-15 Never Felt So Good!

Winter hit with a vengeance here about a week ago. First, the snow came, about 25 centimeters(11 inches) in about 30 hours. That's actually quite a bit in one day for Edmonton, and the city was nearly crippled because it was so slippery, and so much snow, the side roads were barely drivable while the crews kept the bridges and river valley hills in as good a shape as possible so people didn't slide into the North Saskatchewan River. That alone kept almost all of the city's sanding crews busy, allow precious few pieces of equipment to cover the rest of the very large, spread out city that Edmonton is. I had to go to work for 5am last saturday, and while I didn't get stuck, I barely made it out of the residential area that I live in. The city did a fantastic job with the resources that they had. Dealing with that much snow, in such a large city, is hard. Most people have no idea how difficult it really is in our city. With our steep river valley hills, numerous bridges, and sheer size of our city that is too spread out for the population, it is nearly impossible to get the roads sanded and plowed in real time. And besides, with the high winds we experienced, plowing was useless anyway, as all the snow just blew back onto the roads anyway.

After the snow, came the cold. And wow, is it ever cold. In the city center we hit around -28, and it got down to -37 at the airport. And for any americans reading this, -28 and -37 in Celsius are -22 and -35 on your whacky Fahrenheit scale. going from about 5C(41F) at the end of November to almost -30C a week later was quite the shock to the system. I know we get cold, but -30 is very cold, even for us, especially this early in December. It really felt like everything has been moving at half speed outside this week, something that has reflected in the fact that it's taking me nearly twice as long to get to work. There are accidents all over, and it's just a mess outside.

Today, however, is a very balmy -15(+5F) outside. I went outside to start my car today, and it actually felt warm! That's when you know that you're used to winter, when -15 actually starts to feel warm. It's part of living in a winter city, and now that I'm used to it, it makes the winter months that much more bearable. However, that won't last long, as we're expected to get down to about -33 this weekend again, possibly only getting up to -30 as a high for Sunday. That, once again, is really cold, and I'm glad that I don't have much to do this weekend. I like winter, but when it's that cold, I don't like going out unless I have to. The one thing about this weather, is that it's really starting to feel a lot more like Christmas, which, in many ways, is actually a good thing.

Be safe out there. Enjoy the weather. We live in a winter city, so if you can't enjoy the weather, it makes for a *very* long winter. And really, it wouldn't be Christmas without some snow on the ground, would it?

Tragedy at Big Valley Jamobree

Tonight another storm ripped through central Alberta. 2 weeks to the day after tragedy struck the city of Edmonton, a community just south of Edmonton was struck.

This weekend is the 17th annual Big Valley Jamboree. it is a massive outdoor event showcasing country music. When the storm hit, the winds, in excess of 100km/h tore apart the main stage, while a concert was going on. 1 person is dead, 4 are in critical condition, 4 more in serious condition. As many as 60 people were injured. News is still flowing in, but we know that the City of Edmonton dispatched Ambulances and the mass casualty truck to help. Considering the severity of the storm, the open air style of the Big Valley Jamboree, and the thousands of people that were there, it could have been much worse. While we can mourn the death of a person, we can be thankful there was only one death.

Once again, social media played a massive part in this story unfolding. However, sorting through the noise was almost as hard as the facts. One of the greatest advantages to twitter is the literal real time access to the news, however much of that news is not accurate. I saw people marking their posts saying a tornado hit, which is not true. I applaud the news agencies like Global TV and radio stations 630 CHED and iNews880 for doing their best to sort through the noise and report only the facts to us. Great job by them.

The web pages of 630 CHED and iNews 880 appparently have not weathered the storm very well. As of this posting, their websites are down, so I cannot link to the correct articles. I assume becuase of the excellent coverage they had so many people going to the website they just could not keep up.

Keep trying to go go www.630ched.com or www.inews880.com for their excellent coverage of this tragic event.

What a Storm

Last saturday an absolutely wicked storm blew through the Edmonton area. It was truly one of the most damaging storms I have ever seen. It was matched only by the massive storm that caused flooding few years ago. And while there was little to no rotation in the clouds, to many, the storm reminded them of Black Friday, when a Tornado touched down in the city in 1987.

The Clouds were easily the darkest I have ever seen. I had a wonderful view of the storm. I was over at a friend's condo that night. He lives in the river valley on the 7th floor of a condo building. He has a beautiful view of the river valley from which we could see the storm. The lightning was intense, and the wind was fierce. On the 7th floor balcony it was quite intense. I could feel the wind pushing me. I could see large tree limbs being pushed across the parking lots like they were pieces of paper. The first front passed by quickly.

The second front, about 45 minutes later, was not quite as windy, but it brought the rain. Easily the hardest rain I have seen in years. It came down very hard, very fast, and very large drops. Even with the patio doors closed while we were inside, we could hear the rain. That lasted for about 30 minutes. We never lost power there, but the lights flickered numerous times. While I was driving home, large portions of my trip home were dark, and without power. When I got home, it was obvious that the power had been out, probably for about 3 hours, and had just recently come on.

I did not take any really good pictures, however, many edmontonians did. Linked is the photo gallery from iNews880 of the damage that was done. Thousands of trees were destroyed, buildings damaged, the pictures really are amazing.

Once again, Twitter played a large role in this storm. There were many, many tweets during, and after the storm, pictures being relayed in real time, and first hand accounts being displayed in real time, as it was happening. This allowed coverage of the storm that simply would not have happened in the past, and is truly amazing. Also linked is Mack Male's blog where he talks more in depth about social media than I would. It's a must read.

[Read] - iNews880

[Read] - Mack Male's blog