Montrealers are in the throes of the winter’s first real cold snap. With temperatures dropping to -30C and the wind chill making it feel like -40 (no need to designate Celsius or Fahrenheit, as the two scales meet at this point) one does not need a calendar to tell it is January.
Aside from the Styrofoam crunch of the snow underfoot, and the adhering shut of one’s nostrils after an intake of breath (making you feel like a synchronized swimmer), there is one surefire way to know it’s extremely cold. The wind, that same beast that can provide a delicious cooling respite after a long humid July day, feels as if someone were driving a nail into your forehead!
But extreme cold conditions are not limited to physical discomfort, they can also play havoc with driving conditions. Even if road surfaces are clear of snow, there remains the infamous Black Ice. As Wikipedia puts it: Black ice, sometimes called clear ice, refers to a thin coating of glazed ice on a surface. While not truly black, it is virtually transparent, allowing black asphalt/macadam roadways or the surface below to be seen through it—hence the term “black ice”. A bit of snow packed down by cars gets frozen solid as the temperature drops, but often looks just like the road surface itself. You couldn’t create a more devious element.
Below is a photograph I snapped yesterday shortly after the driver of the garbage truck had a first-hand experience with a patch of black ice. He wanted his truck to go one way, but the ice had other ideas and before he knew it he was wrapping his truck around a street light. I don’t believe there were any serious injuries, although emergency vehicles were present.
I suspect the owner of the truck will get a bill from the City for damage to the lamp standard. Which will result in the owner suing the City for not providing adequate road safety.