Wednesday, January 15, 2014

After the Thaw - the Ice Man Cometh

We had our annual January thaw over the weekend, as one of those warm southern air masses defeated our usual cold arctic air and crept up to cover southern Ontario.  Temperatures up to 6° above zero, and heavy rain on Saturday.  We always get at least one winter thaw like this.  But after the thaw, the temperature is back at a seasonal -10°C and supposed to stay there.

And that brings the ice.  It depends heavily on how much snow we had beforehand, on how much it thaws and how long the thaw lasts, and so on.  So year by year the details are different, but the winter season always includes some extent of brief thaws, followed by icy conditions - which are a frustrating part of the season.

First, the driveway was a sheet of ice ... and it goes uphill.  So two hours out with a bucket of sand, creating trackways to get the cars up and down, and even to walk up and down safely.  If it had melted a little more we would have had gravel, but no, with a short thaw, an inch of more of ice was left for sliding on.

Then the roads.  Because of the plows and sanding, the roads cleared off more completely, so icy conditions are not a big problem for driving.  But there are numerous small patches of glare ice on the road in our subdivision, and now they're cleverly disguised under a centimetre of fresh snow, just waiting to trap the innocent unwary like me - flat on the road on my face after slipping while walking the dog.

And then there are the ski trails.  A hardy group of 5 tackled the arctic wind and light snowfall today, and had a good ski.  But the trails were icy; in places skis were removed so people could walk up or down the little hills safely.  In the open areas the wind had blown any fresh snow away, leaving an icy crust; in the more sheltered areas, drifting had provided fresh snow covering the tracks.  Overall, not too bad, but certainly not good ski conditions.

And so we have these icy periods as the winter season goes by, not something I enjoy, but definitely part of the season (and this blog is about documenting the seasons). 

The good news is that we had so much snow on the level before this thaw, that it is still a foot deep everywhere you look, with 3 or 4 foot snowbanks.  And the snow has collapsed, transforming itself from light fluffy powder into hard granular crunch - immediately changing the snowshoeing from quite difficult to very easy!  You can walk right across the surface now.

Hope you're also enjoying winter.


  1. We had another nice day here with sunshine and plus 8 at one point. Our snow has melted down 2 feet in some places and there is some flooding in the Moncton area and a few rivers are very high with ice breaking up already. It will be getting colder a bit more each day now so we've been really spoiled the past almost week. The fields are all frozen ice from the rain yesterday and just a glare in the sun. Thankfully our roads are mostly bare and our driveway is too.

  2. I had been a tad worried with that light snow covering the ice today; deceiving then to find out after a person has fallen. I found myself walking baby steps on the driveway yesterday.

  3. Hi Furry....
    I actually enjoyed the cold rather than all the dirty snow, that is left behind from the thaw...
    But....I will be leaving soon for the sunny!
    Make sure and see my posts from Florida....the sunsets are awesome!
    Thanks for visiting me.....
    Linda :o)

  4. I hate the slippery times too, I have an old pair of ski poles that I use when walking and my husband has a treking stick with a spike in it. Hope you didn't get hurt when you fell:)

  5. We had the thaw and turned everything to slush and then I made BAD ruts in the driveway, and then I tried to fix them by hand before it froze again, and then it thawed again so we got more ruts but they were straighter so it was better. Now they are covered with snow again. 400 feet, uphill. O yes, I understand.

  6. Most of the paths that I like to walk are still very icy. In fact they are treacherous. EW! But the roads are least today, they are.

  7. OK..*hand up* We cleared out Canadian Tire of their environmentally friendly ice melter today,and we're not sorry!
    There should be a snow/ice clearing event in the Winter Olympics ..Canadians would get gold every time.
    Visiting for Ontario Blogger's Day from Kirkfield.
    Jane x

  8. Visiting from the beautiful sunny Ottawa Valley!
    It is too slippery even to snow shoe around our place. I'm terrified of falling and re-injuring a wonky knee. Even walking is hazardous. I've been throwing ashes from a wood furnace and wood stove on the driveway. Works REALLY well but makes an awful mess in the entry.

  9. The same thing happened here. It warmed up to the 40's, rained and then snowed again so there was ice. Thankfully the roads were clear but I slipped on someone's driveway yesterday and fell on my knee. Thankfully it's fine but it could have been pretty nasty

  10. We had enough of a thaw, but not enough to really dent the snowpack. The temps dropped again, and all's cold as ever.