Column: The ice man cometh, and waits for warmer temperatures

A strange thing happened to me this winter: I didn’t have to plug in my block heater until late January.

I’ve been in Estevan for nearly 20 years, and I think that might have been the latest I have gone before needing a block heater. Maybe it happened in that glorious winter of 2005-06, when the average daytime high for January 2006 was above freezing.

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But even in our other wonderful winters (2011-12, 2015-16), there would be the cold snaps before Jan. 15 that would force me to use a block heater.

And yes, on that first morning after plugging in my vehicle this winter, I drove off from my apartment building before unplugging my vehicle. Somewhere between my building and the Mercury office, there was an extension chord in somebody’s yard, or in the middle of the street.

That was one for my personal blooper tape.

This seems to be the tale of two winters. December and the first half of January were marked by above average temperatures and below average snowfall accumulations. If we had more winters with conditions like that, then maybe we wouldn’t complain about this accursed season so much. 

But the second half of winter has been marked by frigid temperatures and, finally, our first snowstorm of the season. I have a new extension cord that is being used on a regular basis, which means I shouldn’t forget to unplug it.

The furnace in my apartment has been at the maximum level each day, so at least I get to keep warm at night.

And I’m plotting a fierce, bloody attack on random people who post photos of their tropical vacations to warmer climates on their social media feeds.

We’ve had a multi-day extreme cold warning, and it probably won’t be the last. Prior to that advisory, our only extreme cold warning was a brief one on New Year’s Eve.

Now we have snow. Not lots of snow. But enough snow that we can switch to using the imperial system instead of the metric system when talking about the amount of snow on the ground. Yes, we have six inches of snow on the ground, not six centimetres.

As far as winter storms are concerned, this one was fairly tame. We received several inches over a few days, rather than a foot of snow in a ferocious 24-hour span. The winds were relatively low, so we didn’t have to worry about a blizzard warning, or those massive snow drifts on Wellock Road that have accumulated in the past.

The Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure didn’t have to issue travel not recommended advisories on local highways. It wouldn’t have been great to be driving on Highway 39 Sunday night, but it wouldn’t have been dangerous, either.

The city of Estevan has decided to tackle a full-scale snow removal effort on the local roads, but I don’t know if people would have been complaining this time if the city would have taken care of Priority 1 and 2 roads, and left Priority 3 roads to be packed down.

To be honest, we needed the snow we received this week. And forgive me for saying this, but I hope we get one more system just like it.

We don’t need a storm that brings two feet of snow that is whipped around by 60 kilometre per hour winds. We don’t need a blizzard. But we could use something that brings 20 centimetres of snow over a few days.

The farmers need it. They need more moisture. They aren’t suffering through the incredibly dry conditions, but many of them didn’t have surplus moisture entering this winter.

One more healthy dump of snow would go a long ways in replenishing the moisture conditions.

And the outdoor recreation enthusiasts would certainly welcome a little more snow, too. I don’t operate a snowmobile, but I know a lot of people who do, and they love to go for a ride on the trails during the winter months. It’s been difficult the last couple of winters with the dearth of snow we have had.

There might be enough snow to go for a ride now, but the conditions wouldn’t be ideal.

And it’s great for the kids to break out their sleds, toboggans, snowboards and other items, and hit the hills in the area. I’m not sure how many will be out and about in the next few days, because it’s pretty cold outside, but I’d rather kids be active and enjoy outdoor winter fun, than be inside for more screen time.

So here’s hoping we get one more hearty dump of snow this month, give the snowmobilers the chance to get out a few times in the coming weeks, and then have a gradual melt beginning in early March that will ultimately end with me breaking out my jogging shoes for the first time before the end of next month.

This ice man will be wearing jogging shoes when spring comes in a few weeks. 

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