Soon the ice will be slowly melting

Adam MacInnis
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This time of year people in Pictou County should be getting ready for maple syrup season says David Phillips, senior climatologist with Environment Canada.

Ice at Melmerby Beach is evidence of how cold this winter has been. Climatologist David Phillips said it’ll take a bit longer for the warm weather to be felt in Pictou County this year as a result of the ice buildup. JOHN BRANNEN – THE NEWS

But this hasn’t been an ordinary winter and it looks like the snowsuits will remain on for at least another month.

Across Canada including here in Nova Scotia, people are remarking how cold and snowy this year has been and their comments are justified, the climatologist said.

“It’s been a real wakeup call,” Phillips said. “They can’t remember a winter like we’ve had in terms of cold and snow.”

Already there’s been about 25 per cent more snow than people in this area would typically expect and with the colder air the snow has stayed on the ground longer. Typically the snow and cold here is followed by warmth and sometimes rain, which takes away the snow, but this year there’s been few periods of reprieve.

While in recent years Nova Scotians could expect to escape winter until the new year, this year it struck hard in December with the temperature being an average of three degrees lower than normal. January had some thawing moments, but they were short-lived and February has been running much colder than in past years.

“My sense is everyone has a little to complain about,” he said. “The winter has been cold.”

The effects of the cold weather will carry into this spring as the ice keeps the coasts colder longer. When the warm winds blow our way they’ll have to melt the ice before they can have any lasting impact inland.

On the bright side, the days are getting longer now. On average, daylight will be increasing by 3 1/2 minutes each day now.

“The sun in March is a lot warmer than in January,” Phillips said. “…Eventually winter gives out no matter how tough and solid it is.”

As much as people want summer weather now, Phillips said it’s actually better for a slow transition with a period of warm days and cold nights in between. Otherwise the province could see severe flooding.

“Instead of standing in snow you’d be standing in water.”


Snow budgets

With the increased amount of snow and cold this winter, municipalities in Pictou County have been keeping a close eye on their bottom line. For some the end result is looking sunnier than others.

New Glasgow currently has used about 69 per cent of their budgets. CAO Lisa MacDonald said they had fortunately put more in their snow budget this year and it paid off.

“We’re maintaining as long as we don’t have three storm weeks until the end of March,” she said.

Trenton has gone over budget by $765 on their snow removal budget but have only spent $35,700 of their $50,000 set aside for salt.

Pictou has fared poorly. Earlier this year they expressed concern about their snow removal costs and it hasn’t improved. Eldon MacDonald, town accountant, said he couldn’t release numbers before presenting them to council next week, but “you can tell just by looking it’s not good information.”

The Municipality of Pictou County has very few roads and some sidewalks to maintain. Brian Cullen said their work is done by contractors, but so far they’re within budget.

Calls to Stellarton and Westville were not returned.

Geographic location: Canada, Nova Scotia, Pictou County New Glasgow Stellarton

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