It is a January thaw! Almost everyone in this part of the world appreciates a break during what has traditionally been the coldest month of the year. It is almost a rite of passage for Canadians and people in the Midwest to brave the harshness of winter. But, like most “rites” comes with myths and adjustments. These thaws do not happen every winter and, depending on latitude, sometimes sunshine and almost melting temperatures have to suffice.
Okay, but this thaw is different. The first 12 days of this year have been balmy, averaging 5 to 10°C (8 to 16°F) above seasonal. The warming began in December and the continued temperatures suggest an early April, confirming the “thaw” part of the equation.
While some of us are enjoying the warmth, that expression, “be careful what you wish for” may apply to others. The tradition of “winter roads”, using frigid winter temperatures to construct transportation routes, to deliver bulk cargoes to the far north, almost certainly has to be abandoned. Recent winters have featured shorter durations and lighter loads. This January thaw is over as winter storm warnings are in affect from Fort Frances to Moosonee, but even a return to average conditions will not be enough to create thick ice over lakes and safe roadways over the normally frozen landscape.