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flash freeze in Ontario, Canada


I’m starting to think I should get my own map and ten minute slot as everything I post recently revolves around the weather, but it’s unavoidably the big story here in Canada right now. After a couple of years of unseasonably warm winters, this ‘mutha’ has left us reeling. First the icestorm, which left over a quarter of a million people without power in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) many of whom didn’t get it back until after Christmas, then the big freeze that ushered in the New Year with windchill temperatures in the minus thirties.

After a brief respite that saw temperatures climb to minus one (OMG!!! break out the tshirts!) the Christmas holidays ended with a generous dumping of snow followed by freezing rain (think an army of peashooters in the sky) and a flash freeze to make the Monday morning walk to school feel like your first time on roller-skates.

As temperatures plunge swiftly and the perishing windchill returns, all the snow and moisture from yesterday is solidifying into jagged blocks of ice preserving everything, from the raccoon tracks fringing our house this morning to the tread-prints of heavy duty trucks left in the slush, with the speed and precision of quick-drying cement. Snow flurries are expected all day and into the night as temperatures sink to double digit minuses again.

With real-feel readings back in the minus thirties/forties Extreme Windchill Warnings are in place – exposed skin is liable to freeze in less than five minutes. We’re advised to turn on the lowest tap in the house and let it run in a pencil-thin stream to help prevent pipes freezing, and to keep indoor temperatures a little higher than normal during the night.

I’ve learnt to walk with ‘knees soft’, as my yoga teacher would say, but I nearly up-ended twice this morning. “Happy New Year, mind your rear!” should be the refrain for today. You can see the spiderlike veins of ice-crystals spreading across windows into complex, cryptic grids of feathery alien beauty. A little further north in Ontario, this is what happens if you fire a water pistol…

What will the weather throw at us next?


While weather like this makes many miserable, I have to confess I LOVE it – after all most of us live in well-heated homes and have plenty of the clothing needed to move around comfortably in these conditions. This wasn’t always the case for us though. When we first came to Canada four years ago life was very different from the one we left behind in England – a steep learning curve! I’ll never forget how the school principal (now sadly retired), a British immigrant himself, laughed when I told him we used to switch the heating off overnight in winter before we realised it just wasn’t viable. “That’s something you DON’T do” he chuckled. Now we leave it at around 17 ℃ when we go to bed.

Back in those early days money was tight and we had to get through winter without a car, or any of the clothing most Canadians take for granted. Stop by to read more about that ‘character-building’ experience in my upcoming post ‘We Hunkered Down & Pressed On…’, in the meantime here are a few pictures taken over the Christmas holidays that give you an idea of what it’s like to live in the Great White North…



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