Tuesday, April 17, 2007

The melt begins

At some point when we were in Ottawa, the weather in Iqaluit shifted. When we left on April 8, it was still very much winter. The temperatures were hovering around -20, which is obviously a damn bit more comfortable than the -40 or so we had been enduring in the previous weeks. But let's face it, that's still a brisk temperature. We didn't take the BFCs (Big Fucking Coats) to Ottawa, but we did move briskly when outside in our light spring coats getting to the airport.

When we came back on April 14, it was -8 and you could see melting starting to happen around town. By today, the temperature is hovering around 0 and it seems like the whole city is melting. Truly odd. I'm not saying winter is over. Far from it. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised by another blast of snow or cold. If memory serves, a Newfoundlander died just outside of Iqaluit a couple of years ago in a blizzard in late April or early May.

Just respect the weather up here. End of discussion.

Still, the melting is doing its usual wonders around town. Iqaluit really is quite pretty in the winter. It's all white, and you see little of the grime that you can get in other cities when the snow hits. They don't use salt for the roads here, instead opting for a bit of gravel to help with traction when it gets a bit slippery.

But with the warm snap, the snow is disappearing. It's in no danger of disappearing up here anytime soon. I imagine it will still be sometime in late May or early June before the ice is gone from the bay and most of the snow is gone from town (it's no probably to still see snow in shaded areas or higher altitudes well into late July). However, it is starting to become a little…grimier.

This is not meant as a knock against Iqaluit, by the way. Very few Canadian cities handle spring well. Lord knows St. John's doesn't. I've always considered spring the most depressing season in St. John's, between the grime, dirt encrusted snow, foggy weather, emerging garbage and shattered shopping carts.

But the snow is taking a hit on the roads and working its usual magic. Only a very small percentage of the roads in Iqaluit are paved. Melting snow + gravel roads = one big mess for drivers. It's the beginning of pothole season in town, where even if you have a four-wheel drive, you can fear for your vehicle's health.

I'm hoping it won't be as bad this year as last. We live in a different spot and don't have to travel over so much gravel. Also, there was a gravel shortage in town last year which has since, I think, been fixed. So hopefully the city will get the potholes covered more quickly.

Oh, one more thing people might find amusing – we've been leaving the windows open in the living room for several hours a day since coming home. The sun has power up here now, and we have lots of windows as it doesn't take much for the apartment to get stuffy. Remember, these are very well insulated apartments. Even when it was around -50, we rarely had the thermostat above 22C. With the temp around 0, we have the heat off and the windows open. By the time summer comes around and the temperature starts to approach 20, I might need a fan.

Yeah, it can be weird living up here sometimes.

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