Sunday, December 22, 2013

Toronto Ice Storm




This morning, after two days of non-stop freezing rain, Toronto awoke fettered in ice. Even before sunrise, it was being reported as the worst ice storm in decades for this city.

From The Globe and Mail:

Ice storms can arise whenever warm air forms a wedge between two layers of cold air – one high up in the atmosphere and one at the surface. Precipitation that begins as snow quickly turns to rain as it falls through the warm air. Then, as the raindrops re-enter the cold, they become supercooled, dipping below the freezing point even though they remain liquid. In such a state, droplets of water freeze on contact when they touch a surface, forming an icy glaze on roads, sidewalks and everything else.





This morning, all exposed surfaces were glazed over in solid ice up to 3 cm thick. The trees that could not bear the weight of all this ice drooped over or snapped, sometimes ripping down power lines. Roads and sidewalks were completely slick: no traction whatsoever. Dangerous driving and walking.






Danger aside, I woke up early and dressed myself in the same gear I wore to climb glaciers in Iceland last year. I'm a weather watcher: if this was the biggest ice storm in decades, I wanted to take a look and get some photos, too. I was lucky not to slip over or to get hit by any huge ice-laden branches which continued to crash down throughout the day.





The wide angle view of the storm: the city is a wreck today. Branches everywhere. Sidewalks and roads impassable. The macro view: the ice is beautiful.



(Branches shatter when they hit the ground, as they have taken on the properties of ice instead of wood.)


(Broken branches on power lines at Spadina House)

(St. Clair West looking worse for wear.)


(Streetcar services were suspended for all of Toronto due to ice on the overhead cables.)



(Evergreen trees fared better in the conditions than deciduous ones.)



The weather forecast doesn't show us going above freezing for the next two weeks - there may not be much chance for the ice layer to melt off the trees for quite some time.




As of Sunday night, about 350,000 people in Toronto are without electricity, plus tens of thousands more across southern Ontario and Quebec. There have been several power outages in the almost three years that I've lived at this apartment but I have never lost power even when houses directly behind me did. I don't know why this is but I'm glad to be able to share my photos on the day of the experience.


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