Ice storm

Some personal observations by Erik Sandblom

Freezing rain of eastern Canadian calibre can make a young tree bend over double.

I know because the tree on my way to school, on the corner of South Park and Victoria in southend Halifax, used to bend over double when there was lots of freezing rain. I have experienced winter in Montréal, Halifax, Vienna, Stockholm and Gothenburg. Only in eastern Canada can you actually talk about "ice storms". They don't seem to happen anywhere else.

Last week's ice storm was the worst on record and forced many Montrealers into temporary shelters, as electric heating failed. Attempting to use other heat sources, some people overtaxed their fire places and set fire to their homes, or were poisoned by gas stoves.

The storm is only expected to make a small dent in Hydro-Québec's profit, the province's huge utility. Electricity from Hudson's Bay is one of the province's key industries, though not as glamorous as the pharmaceuticals industry in Montréal. In fact, the Hudson's Bay project has unglamorously, unethically and brutally drowned many Indian burial sites under water.

I flew back to Sweden from Halifax after the holidays last Saturday (the 10th of Jan.), with the help of anti-freeze spray on the plane's wings. When I sat in the plane on the runway in the dark of the evening, I saw this light coming at us. I thought, if that light is from a plane, then that plane is going to land on the plane I'm sitting in. It turned out the light was from one of those man-lift things, where a guy hosed us down with white gooey stuff ;-). But the light was coming from an oblique angle, looked exactly like a plane landing. I know because a plane did land just before we were de-iced.

Then the antifreeze guy came round once more, hosing us down with something more like water. Then the wings started steaming. They kept on steaming as we raced down the runway and took off. Then I thought, how long does that antifreeze stuff last? If the plane is going through thick fog at -2C, at 300 km/h, won't the antifreeze dribble off, to be replaced by icy fog?

... Well, I'm here now...