The Big Freeze
Published Tuesday, January 16, 2007 by Chris Betcher | E-mail this post
If you asked the average Australian - who generally doesn’t have much experience with really cold weather - what happens to rain that freezes, they would tell you it turns to snow. After all, think about it… if it’s cold enough to freeze the rain, it probably turns to snow, right?
Wrong. Rain that freezes turns to Freezing Rain. It may sound like a minor semantic distinction, but trust me… the difference is huge. I’ve heard it said that the Inuit people (you might know them as Eskimos) have many words in their language for snow, each word used to describe a slightly different version of the white stuff. To those who live in those cold conditions, the subtle characteristics between different types of snowfall must be pretty obvious and important. To the rest of us, it’s just white stuff that falls from the sky.
So the weather finally turned here yesterday, with snowfalls over the weekend – not a lot, but enough to turn the place white – followed by bouts of freezing rain on Monday. Freezing rain is rain that freezes, but not into nice fluffy white crystals that flutter down slowly from the grey skies above. It freezes into tiny bullet-like pellets of ice that spray down from the sky, and as the hit objects like cars, houses and roads, they stick together to form sheets of ice. If that sounds dangerous and inconvenient, you’re right, it is. The roads get really dangerous, and if you leave your car outside for long enough it gets covered in a shell of ice, sometimes freezing over the doors so you can’t even open them. Just yesterday, one of the teachers at work had to go help her mum, whose car had completely frozen over with an ice shell that encased all four doors.
When I left school yesterday, my car was not quite encased in ice to the point where I couldn’t get in, but it certainly was covered with enough ice that I couldn’t see out the windows. I spent about 20 minutes standing in the carpark with an ice scraper trying to chip through the icy shell. Fun! Especially in sub zero temperatures. What was funnier was looking around the carpark and seeing about 10 other people all doing the same thing. Must just be part of being Canadian eh?
Wish I had my camera with me at the time! The photos shown here were taken in the same carpark a few days later...