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.