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Canada Snow ~ Winter in Canada

Tips for coping with Canadian winters snow and cold!

Canada Snow in Winter can be a big shock if you've always lived in a hot country! If all your life has been spent in a country like Australia, where you can go surfing at Christmas and not freeze to death, you might think you're a happy camper.

But living in a hot climate has prevented you from developing an important skill set : How to cope with living in a cold climate with snow, ice, sleet, like Canada. Chances are, you cannot imagine ' freezing ' rain and don't know how lucky you are! Trivia: Freakishly hot day in winter in western Canada is called a Chinook.

Winter in Canada ~ Snow half shovelled off car!

My car buried in snow in mississauga ontario canada snowstormWhen it's winter in Canada , my emails to a friend in Sydney read like weather reports, as indeed they do much of the year.

In Canada, we even have a television channel just for weather -- and mainly Canadian weather, at that!

Canadians tend to think the entire world is as concerned with weather as they are, and it comes as some considerable surprise that much of the world is not.

It occurred to me that my friend has no frame of reference, other than the few winters she lived in Paris, which Canadians know is nowhere near as wintery!

Winter's heavy snowstorms and bitter cold weather in Canada and the northern U.S. affect every facet of life, things like how long it takes to get to work, or if we get to work at all, when we can shop, or get out and about.

And it means work, hard work, to scrape ice off cars and walks and drives. Australians have no idea.

Trying to explain the impact of snow and cold to a hot weather Aussie is like trying to explain a heart surgery technique to a water buffalo. You can try, but some things -- childbirth comes to mind -- just have to be experienced

So, for my Aussie friend and other warm climate types who can't relate to the tingle of frost-bitten fingers or the stess on a fast-beating heart after an hour spent shoveling snow off the drive, I've put together some pictures and tips to give them a frame of reference for dealing with winter.

Hot climate versus Cold Climate

Port Doulgas queensland australia palm trees First of all, to show what kind of weather many Australians are blessed with much of the year, here's a picture of warm and sunny Queensland, Australia, in November.

You'll notice the palm trees and sandy beach. The only white bits in the picture are clouds, well off on the horizon.

This lovely beach scene with no snow in sight is why Canadians head to the Dominican, the Algarve, Costa Rica or any other warm place when winter comes to Canada! Even those Canadians who love to ski and snowboard!

Snow, Snow Everywhere!

snow in canada covering the tall pine trees in late afternoon This picture shows evergreen trees in Canada following a snow storm. You can tell the storm has passed because the sky is blue.

You can tell it's very cold, and not very windy, because the snow is sticking to the trees.

It's rare to have snow cling to trees for any length of time, unless it's the wet, sticky kind we get when temperatures are right around the freezing mark. But that never lasts.

If the temperature warms, the snow melts and drips off; if the temperature drops, it takes away the mositure and the wind blows it off.

To be fair, hot, dry climates do offer skillsets that Canadians do not have. Australians, it is said, if stranded in the desert without water, will drink urine, or, if stung by a stinger (marine box jellyfish), will apply fresh urine to neutralize the jellyfish venom.

Canadians, too, will use this body fluid, but not as a water substitute. Canadians will use urine as a de-icer. Really. If you are stranded outside a vehicle without a keyless entry system that's totally covered in ice, including the door locks, some Canadians -- males, mostly -- will thaw the locks by directing fresh urine into the door.

Beginning then, with our commonality of alternate uses for body fluids, I will attempt to outline a Skillset for Aussies or anyone from a hot climate who finds themself plopped down in a cold climate.

Skillset for Life in a Cold Climate ~ Winter in Canada Tips

  • Don't eat the yellow snow. Or the blue snow. Or the pink snow. Snow is white.

  • Don't stick your tongue or any damp body part on frozen metal. Do not bother testing this out.

  • Use a proper ice scraper tool. Credit cards will snap under cold and pressure.
  • Don't scrape too hard when you scrape ice off your car -- you'll scrape the paint, too.

  • Don't buy groceries, then leave them in the trunk (boot) of the car. Fresh produce freezes rather quickly, especially bananas. (You'd think something named Iceberg lettuce would be all right, but you'd be wrong)

  • Don't drive off in your car until you've removed all snow and ice, including from the roof of the vehicle. (I cannot stress this enough, people!) When the interior warms up, this ice and snow will dislodge and launch itself like some frozen frisbee at the vehiicles in your vicinity. A frozen projectile at speed can cause (and has caused) serious crashes.

  • Corollary to above tip: Watch out for other vehicles, especially very large trucks that cannot be de-iced easily (They are pretty high and difficult to clear). Large trucks randomly launch very large sheets of icy snow from great heights onto the roadway. It's an adventure in reflexive driving. This also applies to skyscrapers. Watch how you go!

  • Earrings, especially solid metal ones, get very cold very fast in freezing temperatures.
  • Do not lick your lips outdoors in very cold weather. Major chapping! Carrry lip balm at all times.
  • Use a thermal mug for take away coffee, tea and hot chocolate, etc.
  • Inuit -- Canada's native northerners -- have so many words for snow they can describe each of its nuances in a word or two that efficiently conveys the age, temperature, moisture content etc of a particular type of snow.
  • Keep your head covered in cold weather -- the body will lose most heat through the head.