I know those words don’t seem to be in the right order but then this winter hasn’t been very orderly either! Now despite the surprise that most Canadians express when it appears, the season of winter is a given here in the Greatish White North. It has been since the ice bridge brought the first peoples over 6,000 years ago (I got this figure from a Bible-based website so live with it!) Which is why it always surprises me when people complain about weather delays when travelling – but that is another story.
Back to my main theme – this has been one of the strangest winters I can recall in my seven decades. It was abnormally warm most of October and November and there was no snow until just before Christmas. We had a white Christmas but by Boxing Day warm weather made for a slushy grey Boxing Day. Then the “weather bomb” brought truly Arctic temperatures to most of North America for Christmastide. Here on the Island it was -35c (-31f) with winds up to 135 km/h (85 m/h). This was followed by heavy dumps of snow as the temperatures became a sub-sub-tropical -10c (14f). In the past few days the temperature has risen to a sub-tropical 11c (52f) and great puddles of water and brown winter lawns are more common than piles of pristine snow. However never fear winter is returning and in some places the temperatures are predicted to plummet more than 25º within a few hours.
However there are still moments when that well-worn cliche “a winter wonderland” does apply. As an example yesterday pilot Paul Tymstra was flying into Charlottetown; as he came over the Abegweit Passage, the narrowest part of the Northumberland Strait, he noticed the unusual ice patterns created by the movement of ice flows passing under the Confederation Bridge. (Left click for a closer look!)
Aside from the beauty of this photo it also gives an indication of the engineering of the 12,900 metre span. Apparently there are ice shields on the pylons that act as cutters or as one commentator suggests “a giant bread slicer”. Tidal movement at that narrow point can be up to 7 km/h and more if there is a strong westerly wind blowing.
It’s only a coincidence but the pattern is almost like the patchwork of fields and roads you see as you come over the Island. Unfortunately I was unable to come across a photo that would compare the two but I’ll continue searching.