Global Warming Cuts Both Ways

As the frigid air continues to hover over the northeast of North America, comparisons are aplenty. The one above indicates the relative cozy -14C in Anchorage, Alaska while we in Montreal are freezing our asses off!! When all those folks comment on the very hot summer weather that now hits Montreal due to global warming, just remind them that it cuts both ways!

DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Polar Vortex: An Unwanted Weekend Guest

It arrived sometime early Saturday morning. Totally uninvited and certainly unwelcome, it  bullied its way into the north east of North America and made it clear it will spend the weekend. I don’t mean an annoying relative,  I’m referring to the phenomenon known as the Polar Vortex. So far we have been spared our usual winter conditions thanks to El Niňo, but one of the prices to be paid for a mild December and January is the occasional touch of extreme cold.

… it bullied its way into the north east of North America and made it clear it will spend the weekend. I don’t mean an annoying relative …

As I write this I can hear the wind howling down my street, a street lacking the usual Sunday  morning pedestrian traffic. The man on the radio told me that the temperature is -25 Celsius (-13 Fahrenheit) . That’s pretty nippy, but nothing compared to the  -37C (-34.6 F) degrees that is felt when the wind blows. One report yesterday stated that the windchill may hit – 50C (-58 F) before our guest departs.

If you are in the affected area you are only too aware of the sensation of extreme cold. But for those who are more familiar with prickly heat than frostbite, let me explain. The snow that was on the ground when the temperature dropped took on a styrofoam-like consistently, including the squeaky sound when it is walked or driven on. Driving became even trickier as road salt is not effective at these temperatures, and the glare of the sun low in the sky is nothing short of blinding.

Speaking of the sun, one of the cruelest characteristics of a good old cold snap is the beautiful clear blue sky. In July that same sky would be inviting, but don’t be fooled by the fluffy white clouds out there today, it’s just a ruse to get you to go outside.

Warning

I got into my car yesterday and it was like sitting on a park bench; everything was frozen. On went the seat warmer, a feature that seems dumb in August, but is oh so grand in February, rear window defroster, heater at the highest level and windshield defogger. I remembered not to give in to the temptation to spritz the windshield; like road salt, that blue or yellow liquid is useless in these temperatures until the car and windshield warm up.

I waited a moment or two then, with gloves on as the steering wheel was way too cold to handle without, I pulled out. Of course after several hours parked in the cold the tires had gone square. Well, not exactly square, but the bottom of the tire, having supported the weight of the car, has been pressed flat and frozen. As the wheels turn this works its way out, but those first few blocks make you wonder if all four tires have deflated.

Yesterday when I did that I was immediately reminded of the extreme cold as, even after a drive and wait, the key started to adhere to my tongue!

The grocery store I was headed for is about a six minute drive. It took another few minutes to be directed to a parking spot by the guy doing a most unenviable job, that of organizing the lot. I think he had on every item of clothing he owns, perhaps saving him from frostbite, but putting him at risk should he fall as I’m sure he’d never be able to get up. I parked and turn off the car. For some reason, habit I assume, I always put the key in my mouth while I undo the seatbelt. Yesterday when I did that I was immediately reminded of the extreme cold as, even after a drive and wait, the key started to adhere to my tongue! Fortunately I was able to remove the key before it ripped off my taste buds.

But all of this hardship gives us a greater appreciation of the summer when a one-hundred degree difference can be felt during a humid hot spell.

DCS_Grad_2 DCMontreal – Deegan Charles Stubbs – is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and an occasional Frean and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DCMontreal on Twitter and on Facebook, and add him on Google+

 

Polar Vortex: Winter Driving Dos and Don’ts

This weekend yet another large winter storm, a nor’easter in fact, made its way, appropriately, both north and east causing much havoc to holiday travelers. At one point CNN reported that 100 million people were in the storm’s path. Although we are in the north-east of North America, here in Montreal we were spared all but a dusting of snow.

I dug out this parking spot so it’s mine … forever!

Watching the news coverage of the storm and its aftereffects I was struck by a report of the unwritten rule in South Boston that once you dig your car out of the snow if you place a marker in its stead, your parking spot is deemed to be off-limits to others. Huh?!?

ParkingConeOne often hears people saying that Canada is a more civilized nation that the US given our socialized medicine and attitude toward guns. But this parking spot respect knocked me for a loop. Way up here north of the 49th parallel – where snow was invented – once you vacate a parking spot, it’s up for grabs. Regardless of whether you have placed a construction cone, a chair with a shovel, or your grandparents sitting at a kitchen table quaffing tea, once you’re out, you relinquish all claims to the spot. The logic being everyone digs out once; if I dig out my car I then look for dug-out parking spots and the driver who shoveled out my new spot does likewise.  I’ve seen arguments break out between drivers attempting to pull in behind my just cleared spot.

The photo above from the Boston Globe must be a set-up. First the cleared and reserved parking spot appears to be beside a hydrant and secondly there isn’t enough snow to warrant digging, assuming you are using snow tires!

As much as I admire the sentiment I think the current way of doing things is entrenched in our minds and people here would no sooner respect a cone in a parking spot than they would a guy ‘holding’ a table for four by himself in a crowded bar.

All-season tires may work in all Florida seasons, but …

Trying to drive in snow with all-seasons is like trying to go deep-sea diving with a snorkel; it works up to a point, but to really get the job done better equipment is required.

As a snow person my heart has always gone out to those who are not familiar with the white stuff but who occasionally have to deal with it. Boston, New York, Chicago all have the wherewithal to cope with winter. Washington, D.C. on the other hand is not a winter city and therefore even a small amount of snow can cause chaos. The sight of people trying to navigate slippery icy sidewalks using the best available footwear is nothing short of pathetic (if sometimes just a wee bit funny).

But when it comes to driving in snowy conditions without proper tires there is nothing funny about it. And when I say proper tires I mean snow tires, not all-seasons. Trying to drive in snow with all-seasons is like trying to go deep-sea diving with a snorkel; it works up to a point, but to really get the job done better equipment is required. A few years ago the province of Quebec enacted a law making it mandatory to have snow tires on your car from December 15 to March 15. Too many motorists were trying to save the cost and hassle of using two sets of tires by installing all-seasons, unfortunately they must have been referring to all the seasons in Missouri when they made those tires.

… what I’m asking is that whether you live in Minnesota or Nevada, if there is sufficient snow on the road surface and you don’t have snow tires don’t, for everybody’s sake, drive!

Many folks – men for the most part I believe – claim to be able to drive just fine on their all-season tires in any condition. Not only is this more bravado than fact, it doesn’t stop the lesser talented driver from spinning out of control and into your vehicle. Yep, socialist Canada, we all use the roads so let’s do so in the safest way possible for everybody. Am I suggesting everyone in the United States be required to have snow tires just in case? Of course not, what I’m asking is that whether you live in Minnesota or Nevada, if there is sufficient snow on the road surface and you don’t have snow tires don’t, for everybody’s sake, drive!

MeDCMontreal is a Montreal writer born and raised who likes to establish balance and juxtapositions; a bit of this and a bit of that, a dash of Yin and a soupçon of Yang, some Peaks and Freans and maybe a bit of a sting in the tail! Please follow DC on Twitter @DCMontreal and on Facebook, and add him on Google+