Paul and I returned home from our long weekend camping adventure on Monday. It was raining a bit when we pulled into the driveway but happily it stopped long enough for us to unload the car. Then the rain started . . .
I called my mother, who lives 10 km away, to let her know we had arrived home in one piece. She complained about how dry it had been and wished she would get some rain.
The rain that hit Burlington was localized and HARD.
In fact, the city received somewhere between 125 mm to 200 mm in a few hours.
The flooding was crazy!
(this is a four lane highway . . . closed off after it became a lake)
Friends of ours had a foot of sewage fill their basement.
We were lucky. We live in a new housing development. New housing developments now have to be designed with storm drainage designed to bring water away from houses, into a network of diversion ditches, sewers, and ponds. I often whine about the ditch and culvert in the back of our yard since it takes up a lot of space and messes up the landscaping. At one point during the rain it was full of about 3 feet of water pouring non-stop down the culvert and rushing to the holding ponds. It did its job and the basement was dry as a bone.
Much has been written about how challenging the winter has been in these parts. No matter how bad things get though I'm guessing that short of a coronary whilst shoveling snow the experience is better than this guy's:
Here in these wild parts we turn to a ground hog to predict the arrival of spring. Not just any ground hog though - an albino ground hog named Wiarton Willie!
This year he emerged from his cozy den Sunday morning and immediately spotted his shadow, which according to groundhog folklore means Canadians can expect six more weeks of what has already been a long, cold, snowy winter.
Three days before Christmas Eastern Canada got walloped by an ice store. Happily we were spared the worst of it where we live - that same lake effect that delivered significantly higher snow accumulation to us last weekend worked to ensure that some of the freezing rain fell just as rain.
Nonetheless everything had a thick coating of ice on it when we woke up yesterday.
We lucked out - we never lost power, phone, cable, or internet service. I heard of many who lost all. In fact today they were saying that some in the city would have no electricity until after Christmas!
People were in a panic. How would they ever be ready for Christmas?
I reminded more than a few of the lessons from the Grinch:
"Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. "Maybe Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!"
Yes indeed, it isn't gifts, packages, turkey and stockings - it is spending time with friends and family you care about.
I am sure my reminders were helpful for those trying to make lunch by warming up a pot of chili on the BBQ!
We had a great day - we stuck inside, made sugar cookies, napped, and relaxed by the fire.
We didn't venture out of the house but here are some shots of the ice in our yard and from our porch.
More about that foul storm I mentioned yesterday . . .
We were predicted to get 15 cm of snow. Because we are near the shore of Lake Ontario and the water is warmer than the surrounding air mass, the storm system picked up extra moisture from the lake. Said moisture promptly froze and fell as more snow!
By the time the storm headed east we had 30 cm of fluffy white stuff on the ground.
This required three bouts of shovelling, followed by a fourth after the plow had plowed us in!
By mid-afternoon I was sore and cranky.
We are not used to this much snow in December.
We live in a sub-division which was built as land was running out in the area - meaning large houses on small lots with no lawns . . . where does this snow go?
Anyway, here are some shots from our fun times ...
Remember the joy of a snowfall when you were a child? Remember? Shame that joy becomes work and sore muscles as an adult.
Here in the Toronto area we tend to be whimps when it comes to winter. At the mere mention of a snowstorm we race to the store, madly grabbing provisions to tide us over.
In most cases the storm never arrives and we move on with our lives, grumbling all the while about the fool weather service.
A huge storm was predicted for last night and extending well into today. I cancelled my meeting scheduled for this morning as a precaution and decided to 'work' from home.
Many school boards took the precaution of cancelling schools yesterday. This is rare - generally the call is made at 6 AM to cancel the schools for that day.
That should have been a sign that this was no false alarm.
When Paolo woke up at 3 am to get ready for work I looked out the window and noticed very few flakes out there.
'Pfft' I thought - another false alarm.
When I finally crawled out of bed at 6 am the snow had started. It's 4 PM now and it hasn't stopped. We figure it is the most snow we've had in about 4 years.
I shoveled at 10 AM - back spraining shoveling. The snow was up to my knees.
By the time I had finished one area of the driveway it appeared that it hadn't been done at all because so much snow had fallen on it again! ARGH
I helped shove cars out of the unplowed street. That was when I decided in for the day.
Someone posted this helpful information on facebook:
you consider that a shovelful of snow weighs 5 to 7 pounds, you realize
how much weight you have to lift to clear your sidewalk or driveway —
on average, several hundred pounds! These technique tips will help keep
your back in top shape:
Do a quick warm-up and some simple stretching.
Always try to push snow rather than lifting it.
Protect your back by lifting properly and safely:
Stand with feet at hip width for balance.
Hold the shovel close to your body.
Space hands apart to increase leverage.
Bend from your knees and hips, not your back.
Tighten your stomach muscles while lifting.
Avoid twisting while lifting.
Walk to dump snow rather than throwing it.
When snow is deep, shovel small amounts at a time.
...And don't forget to take breaks!
Paolo arrived home at 12:45 after a long trudge from work. The regular 10 minute walk taking 4 times that long.
Here is a shot of the traffic camera on Canada's busiest highway taken at about the same time:
Yes, people are actually shoveling the onramp by hand. We Canadians are a hardy lot.
Unlike the crowds who descended upon the stores last night I decided to wait and do my shoppin this morning after the false-alarm snowfall. When I took stock this morning I was out of both milk and eggs. I did have plenty of beer, wine, vodka, and rum.
Tomorrow is the first day of spring although to be honest it feels as if it's been here for awhile.
Everything is 4 - 6 weeks early this year.
There was no snow melt run off since there was no snow to melt.
Our tulips and daffodils are about 8 inches above the ground.
The birds that migrate south have returned. Actually they have been back for about two weeks.
The ice cream truck drove through the neighbourhood for the first time.
This will be a happy thing today and tomorrow as the temperatures are supposed to be as warm as in Cayo Coco, Cuba.
Kids were outside playing well into the evening.
There are insects flying about. we even saw a mosquito.
Today the lawn service showed up for the first treatment of the year.
You may think that this is all normal stuff but it isn't. If we don't get a 10 cm drop of snow in the next 10 days it will be the first time in history that we haven't had at least one 10 cm dump of snow in a winter and the first time we haven't had one after March 17th.
I confess to be conflicted by this. I don't care for winter - I'm happy that spring is here. At the same time I worry about what we have done to the planet to cause weather this mixed!
On Friday my neighbour and I were discussing it (he was out in shorts washing his car) - bill's theory is that the Mayan's were right - the word WILL end on December 21st. He believes that the gods are making these last few months on the planet sweet ones to compensate! Extreme, perhaps . . . but something is amiss.
We left the snow behind and headed to California for a long weekend of fun. We shoppedm toured wineries, tasted olive oil, met up with good friends, and ate some wonderful food. I can't wait for slow bowl 2009.