Saturday, 10 January 2015

Wild winter weather week

A spectacular accident Friday morning on I-94 near near Battle Creek, Michigan involved 150 vehicles, including a fireworks truck that exploded. 22 were injured and one Canadian truck driver killed in the collision caused by snow squalls. (CNN Image)
The long  and slow Friday morning commute on L'Ile Perrot. Just another day in a week of terrible road conditions in and around metro Montreal. (ValleyWX Photo)
Ice storms, thousands without power, brutal cold, frost quakes, two hour commutes, over 30cm of snow and numerous multiple vehicle accidents, welcome to the first week of 2015. Whew, take a break, you made it to Saturday. That can only be described as one wild weather week in Montreal and across most of the continent. Brutal cold dropped temperatures in Montreal to -28C (-18F) on Thursday morning. It was as cold as -40C (-40F) with the wind. Parts of central Quebec had lows in the minus 40's. It has snowed everyday in January so far in Montreal, for a total of 33cm (13 inches). You can add to that 28mm of freezing rain last Sunday, that knocked power out to over 150,000 Quebec homes and left roads and sidewalks in dangerous shape. Numerous injuries occurred from people falling on the ice.

Frost Quakes
If that was not enough, in the wee hours of Monday morning, I was shaken out of bed at around 2:30am by what I thought was an earthquake. Turns out it was a frost quake or cryoseism. It was heard and felt across the West Island and here on L'Ile Perrot. Frost quakes occur with rapid changes in temperature as well as precipitation seeping into the ground and then freezing quickly as it did last Sunday in Montreal. This puts stress on the surrounding rock until it is released with a loud boom and in some cases even a crack or shake!

Treacherous Roads
The week also featured terrible roads conditions across the Great Lakes region into Ontario, New England and Southern Quebec. Brutal cold, combined with snow squalls iced up roads and cut visibility rapidly. I spent over 12 hours in my car commuting around metro Montreal this week, including two hours Friday morning just to go 28km (17 miles). The weather conditions lead to a rash of major accidents including one yesterday on Interstate 94 near Battle Creek, Michigan. The accident involved more than 150 vehicles with one fatality and 20 injuries. The one death was sadly a truck driver from Quebec. Michigan State Police had to close the highway in both directions for over 14 hours. It was just one example of many that occurred this week.

This morning it is quiet so far in Montreal and chilly at -12C. A few snowflakes are possible all weekend with a chance for accumulating snow Sunday night into Monday morning almost guaranteeing us another slow commute. It will be milder this weekend but turn cold to start next week. You have to love January, but I don't!

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