After one of this winter’s freezing rainfalls, one of our firs had thousands of needles individually wrapped in ice:
There really wasn’t much of a winter this year but there were a few opportunities to get out and take pictures of scenes that weren’t relentlessly brown. Here’s a gallery containing a few of the things I saw this winter that didn’t quite make it into posts of their own for one reason or another.
Spring’s coming, but it’s not here quite yet.
There’s an interesting sight on the Don River north of Pottery Road. Just across the river from Cottonwood Flats, a series of icicles dripping from the hillside create an ice curtain that curves for about 200 metres along the river bank.
Although a few of the individual icicles can be traced to water channels that trickle down from the top of the hill, most seem to sprout from the hillside just a few metres above the river:
Given the extent and uniformity of the ice, my guess is that most of it comes from groundwater seeping into the river at this location.
Seeing a large ice crystal like this, about an inch long, is fairly rare. Now imagine seeing thousands upon thousands of them:
We’re spending a few post-Christmas days at the cottage and awoke to a visual treat on Thursday: Wednesday’s sudden deep freeze and blowing wind gave us a large field of feather ice growing on the lake. The lake began the day on Monday as completely open water; Tuesday brought some long ribbons of ice along the wind lines; by Wednesday only a few open spots were left, and by Thursday morning it was completely frozen over. I don’t know much about the formation of feather ice, but I’m guessing that the low temperatures combined with the wind blowing over the remaining patches of open water on Wednesday picked up enough moisture to cause this field to form near our shoreline. It’s at least a hectare in size.
I would have spent much more time taking pictures, but lying down on a frozen lake while manipulating an SLR on a tripod at ground level isn’t exactly the most comfortable position I’ve ever been in. Check out the gallery below the fold for a couple of additional pictures I managed to take before my pants froze to the lake.
In homage to Goldfinger actress Shirley Eaton, I leave one square inch of my skin exposed so that I won’t suffocate.
The worst thing about riding in -24°C windchill isn’t trying to stay warm. It’s not the extra time I spend each morning bundling up with a face mask, neck warmer, balaclava, and headband to keep the harsh wind off my delicate face and neck. It’s not even trying to unlock the bike while wearing lobster gloves. No, by far the worst thing about riding in this weather is frightening all the kids at the daycare next door to the office. Sorry kids; spring’s almost here. I know I said that last week, but I really mean it this time.
I had my first-ever winter cycling wipe-out on the way to the office this morning. There wasn’t much snow on the road when I tried to set up for a left turn by crossing from one side of the lane to the other. Unfortunately, there was just enough slippery slush (perhaps concealing an ice patch) between the the car tracks to make my front tire slide sideways when I tried to cross. Although I can’t be positive, I’m pretty sure that I had a light touch on the front brake, which is probably what did me in. Turning + brake + slippery road = nothing good.
By the time I knew what was happening, I was already lying on my side marvelling at how soft the landing was. Beyond wounded pride, there was no damage to me or the bike. The best thing about wiping out in the winter is the lack of road rash. I consider myself extremely lucky by the most important measure: I don’t think anyone saw me.
I try to learn a lesson from everything, and I got two today: first, even if you don’t think that conditions are very bad, lower your tire pressure a bit to get a better grip. Second, always ride appropriately for the conditions. I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t taking this morning’s flurries very seriously. Serves me right.
Ironically enough, I spent this morning’s (pre-wipeout) ride thinking about writing a winter riding post in which I would dismiss the supposed danger by noting that I’d fallen off my bike four times as an adult, none of which were during the winter or caused by road conditions or bad weather. Make that five times, and once.
Got that, everyone? Snow is going to blanket southern Ontario, even the city of Toronto. That’s right, the super-futuristic protective weather dome that normally steers all precipitation away from us and maintains a comfortable 21° temperature year-round is malfunctioning, with the result that even the city of Toronto will be snowed upon. The low pressure system, tracking from Windsor to Ottawa will veer as many as no kilometers off its path, ensuring that even the city of Toronto will see at least the minimum amount of snow expected from the storm.
Yes Canada, it’s winter out there. Even in the city of Toronto.
(The Weather Network storm watch has been updated since the above screen cap was taken late this afternoon; Toronto is no longer singled out as if snow is as unexpected here as it is in Miami.)