WEATHER LORE ICE STORM A cold northerly wind, a good covering of snow and the whole of the north and east of Britain grinds to a halt. Spare a thought, however, for the people of Canada and the USA in the north east of North America. The ‘Big Freeze’ of 1998 was on quite a different scale to the sort of cold weather we usually experience. In the January of 1998 the worst ice storm in living memory hit the densely populated provinces of Eastern Canada and the states of North East USA. Temperatures in Winnipeg fell to -36 degrees Celsius, and... ...even in New York, which is way south of Britain, the thermometer registered -15. Strong winds from the Arctic brought snowstorms to the east of the USA. 60 mile an hour winds and heavy snowfalls produced snowdrifts up to 15 feet deep, blocking roads, closing airports and other transport services, and causing over 100 deaths. Further north in Canada the effects were even worse. Rain and supercooled droplets ( rain droplets at a temperature below 0 degrees Celsius) fell on frigid surfaces. Freezing instantly the water produced layers of ice up to 50 mm thick on electric cables; the system collapsed…... …..leaving over 3 million people with no electricity by the 9 th. of January. ....Weathermen called it Crystal Chaos! In this country we would call it ‘rime’ on exposed structures. On frozen surfaces like roads, supercooled droplets may be deposited in a clear layer of ice; black ice, invisible to the naked eye, but deadly to drivers! In North America millions of children suffered several ‘snow days’ when they were unable to travel to school. Children and Teachers rejoiced! Polar bears at Philadelphia Zoo were kept inside during the Big Freeze, when their pool froze!! Zoo keepers said they might use the ice covered surfaces to jump over the surrounding fences.
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