My family is from Zimbabwe, a country in southern Africa, so growing up it always struck me as a little odd how fondly Canadians embraced winter. Sure, there are always those grumblers who complain about too much snow to shovel and dreadful driving conditions, but overall, Canadians do a stand up job of celebrating some of the harshest weather Mother Nature can conjure up.
This past winter was different though. With above seasonal temperatures all winter long, the only thing Mother Nature could conjure up this year was a mere shell of winters past. No stronger evidence of this was there than this past week, when Ottawa broke seasonal records on multiple days.
The laughter and friendly jeering of neighbourhood kids could be heard as they set up games of road hockey, within a stones throw from where a beautiful outdoor rink, complete with boards and nets, had been only a few weeks ago.
“We would rather play on the ice in the park,” says 13 year old Aston Lawrence, pointing wistfully to where the rink now lies in puddles. “But it’s all gone so we have to play on my driveway instead.”
Melting ice city wide
It’s a trend being seen all over Gloucester and the rest of the city, with many outdoor rinks being out of commission for weeks now.
“It’s tough to upkeep the ice when the weather’s like this,” says Gloucester resident Matthew Warnholtz. “It takes weeks of cold to get skateable ice but only a day or two of warmth to ruin it for a week. It’s really frustrating to see all these rinks rendered unusable by the heat.”
For a few, the unseasonably warm weather is a blessing, foreshadowing the warmth of summer’s embrace. For Lawrence’s friend Kian Reid, it also means that football season is getting closer.
“I love that the ice is melting already,” he says with a sly look toward his hockey loving friend. “I like skating but we were only able to go on the rink every two weeks because the ice wasn’t good enough. Now we can get ready for summer.”
In a recent Huffington Post article, senior Canadian climatologist David Phillips said all of Canada has been affected by a warm winter.
“As far as you can see on the weather map, it just seems to be temperatures are a dozen degrees warmer than normal,” he said. “That is really shocking for this time of the year.”
Listen to what Gloucester resident Scott Reese has to say about what consequences an early spring has on one of his favourite winter pastimes: pond hockey.