Saturday, April 4, 2009

Is It Spring Yet?

Anybody else tired of winter yet? It was supposed to have moved out on March 20, but as usual it is overstaying it's welcome. our CTV station has a daily online poll. The question for April 1 (and the day of our last snowstorm) was "Are you sick of winter?" Well it was one of the highest responses in ages with about 2,000 people logging on to vote. 88% said yes and only 12% said no! It should be noted that the 12% who said "NO" need to have their heads examined!

Those 12% and a few others, are the odd - and I do mean ODD - folks who love winter and are sad to see it go - like the winter sports enthusiasts, but I think that the vast majority of us weary prairie dwellers are more than ready for a little bit warmer weather.

Twelve years ago, in 1997 we were looking towards a fairly routine spring and slightly elevated risk of flooding. By the beginning of April, the streets and sidewalks of Winnipeg, were pretty much clear of snow and ice. The snow banks on boulevards and shady areas were quickly disappearing.

Then, Mother Nature unleashed a massive spring snowstorm that changed everything.

" 1997 - April 5-6 - Worst recorded blizzard in Winnipeg this century. Total accumulated snowfall: 48 cm (Friday to Tuesday). Previous record: 1966 - 38.1 cm snowfall. Duration of storm: 24 hours, Average wind speed: 60km/h, gusting as high as 85 km/h."

We all know that the aftermath of that storm, led to the flood of the century that devastated many homes and businesses.

Well, the spring of 2009 is also proving to be rather nasty. We've had a few teasers of mild weather, but have also had a couple of nasty storms in the last two weeks. The snow had been starting to melt at a reasonable pace and then a winter storm rolled in on March 25 and unleashed freezing rain, then ice pellets then snow. It lasted off and on for a couple of days. We were just starting to get over that, when another storm hit this past week and dropped another 8-10cm (3-4 inches) of snow over southern Manitoba.

Our friends in Fargo, North Dakota and Moorhead, Minnesota were hit even harder and have been facing an uphill battle trying to prevent major flooding. There have only been a few minor breaches so far, but the memories of Grand Forks in 1997 are still very fresh in their minds. So far, we here in southern Manitoba aren't at major risk for flooding, but all precautions and sandbagging is taking place to protect vulnerable low lying areas. Volunteers are still needed for sandbagging in certain areas. The main concern at the moment is the possibility of ice jams blocking the flow of water near bridges and doing damage along shorelines.

The line between winter and spring can be like walking a tight rope. If the snowfall has been heavy, you want a slow steady melt to avoid major flooding.

At the same time though, you have had a long five or six months of wearing extra layers of clothing and heavy boots. You are tired of plugging in the car or freezing at the bus stops. You are tired of shoveling all that white stuff, tripping over snow banks/drifts and having your glasses fog up, the moment you step inside.

The spring thaw cycle can cause major damage to roads and can be treacherous for pedestrians and drivers.

Traversing the sidewalks at this time of year is quite an aerobic workout. The daytime thawing creates puddles and mini lakes all along the sidewalks and streets. Depending on the overnight temperature, it then does a partial or full freeze - just enough to create a skating rink in the shallow areas and a layer of ice thin enough to break through in the deeper areas. The deeper areas, refreeze and create ruts that can challenge even the most agile, fully sighted people - let alone those of us who are a little less fleet of foot and/or visually impaired. Throw in a new layer of that fluffy white stuff over it, a few snow banks at bus stops and intersections. Oh and let's not forget the ever popular sea like puddles along the curbs that cars LOVE to speed through so they can spray pedestrians and other vehicles.

Kids may enjoy some of this wet stuff, but for the rest of us? Well let's just say that "We are not amused!"

I don't want anyone to have to go through a flood. I grew up in a flood zone and we got some degree of flooding every year. I know what that is like and I wouldn't wish that on anyone, BUT I'm tired of wearing multiple layers. I'm tired of wearing winter boots and a heavy coat. I'm tired of having to navigate rivers, lakes, streams, mountains and glaciers just to walk to the bus stop on otherwise flatlands of the prairies! I'm tired of freezing at the bus stop and I'm tired of being sprayed by passing vehicles. I'm tired of my glasses fogging up every time I get on the bus or go inside of a building.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate winter completely. I am just tired of it coming early and staying late. It is supposed to arrive on December 21 but, it starts trying to move in sometime in late October or early November and then refuses to leave when it's lease is up on March 20. Sometimes it stays till mid April! Talk about a rude guest! It's a cold hearted, blowhard with bad dandruff!

I want spring and I want it yesterday! PLEASE!!!


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