Tag Archives: winter

More blustering

Dixie taped me walking home from the library this afternoon.  By that time the snow had stopped blowing around, but the wind was still high.  This video gives you an idea of the drifts that have grown on the road in front of our trailer.  The drift I pat near the end is sitting on the part of the road that had been cleared with a snowblower this morning.  I hope the snowblower comes through again tomorrow morning or Luke won’t be going to preschool.

I was born in the Netherlands and lived there for the first 7 years of my life. The weather there is mild and snow, as I recall, was an occasional treat. But my first winter in Caronport, a small town on the plains of southern Saskatchewan, had me acclimatized to inland Canadian winters. In fact, it was in drifts much like those outside our trailer (possibly bigger) in which my mother worried she’d find me when I disappeared during that first prairie storm we experienced in 1985.

A day like we had today would have shut down towns on Canadian coasts, but we land-locked prairie folk are a hearty people, so those of us who live on campus or in Otterburne across the river bundled up and went to the library to study or to offices to work. The school was effectively closed (all classes cancelled) because travel was simply not safe for commuters coming from Winnipeg, Steinbach, Niverville and other villages in the surrounding areas. With the blowing snow, visibility was extremely low and snow drifts on the highways can be treacherous.

But here’s the thing about Canadian prairie people: I’m fairly certain that many of the staff and students were a little ashamed and frustrated that they let a winter storm keep them housebound. As much as we often pine for our brief summers, we take pride in our harsh, cold winters and our willingness to put on toque, parka and leather mittens and face the blowing snow and wind-chills. These days will some day be recounted with pride and mutual understanding, like soldiers exchanging stories from the battlefield.

Snow tires

We received some unexpected (even though it’s winter) snow in Prince Albert today.  The roads were treacherous.  On the way back from running some errands, my car slid past one exit and was nearly rear-ended.  Then I almost missed the next exit, slidding into the grass meridian.  I had to back up to reposition and then almost didn’t make it up the sloped exit.  A car ahead of me somehow managed to do almost a 180 in a straight stretch of road.

In fact, that was typical at the intersection by the church.  I almost slid into a street light, trying to make a left.  Then I watched from my office window as the roads got worse and people got into fender benders and found themselves trying to enter into an exit lane.  Cars perpendicular to the road, drivers clumsily trying to slip-slide their way back into position.

We plains/interior folk like to make fun of people in warmer climes (such as Vancouver and the island), where cities effectively shut down with an inch of snow, but I realized today that if seasoned winter drivers like us have a hard time with wet, freezing weather, it’s understandable that people in areas where snow is uncommon (and slopes are more common) can’t handle it.

So I’m faced with the snow tire issue again.  I’ve been putting off buying rims for the snow tires I have for the van, but now I’m wondering if I should go the snow tire route with the Honda as well.  It seems, however, that I must decide quickly, because there may be a snow tire shortage in the Canadian west: demand for snow tires in Quebec is way up, because they will soon be mandatory on all vehicles.

The thing is, prior to last winter I had never driven on snow tires and never seriously considered buying them.  In fact, I wasn’t aware that anyone I knew used them and was quite surprised to learn that almost everyone in the Okanagan valley, of all places, uses them.  The only reason I used them last winter was because we got a set of snow tires with our van purchase.  But now that I’ve used them, it seems like a necessity.

But I’m not sure I’m willing to shell out the $800 or so to fully equip both vehicles with snow tires (and rims), especially since I had never used them before last winter.  Plus, I only assume that they make a difference, based on what people tell me and the fact that their “winter tires”.  But all-season tires, which I have, cover winter as well.  I’ve never done a driving test and I’m doubtful enough to think that the winter tires seemed to give more traction than the all-season tires simply because I was expecting them to (and perhaps driving more cautiously as a result of my awareness)—but it had been 4-6 months since I had driven in winter on all-season tires and that was in a different vehicle, so comparison isn’t really possible.

That’s today’s snooze-fest, folks.