Photo Essay #7: The Aftermath

After a big weather event, there’s always a Day After. In my previous post, I gave you a glimpse of what Winter’s last gasp looked like, when 40cm of snow got dumped on Montréal in a day.

This is about the aftermath.

Wednesday morning – the morning after – snow was still gently falling. Snowplows had made a quick pass, but it was obvious that it was going to be a rough day.

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Barely a soul aroundBarely a soul around

Barely a soul around

Everything was quiet, as all the elementary and high schools, CÉGEPs, universities declared a snow day and stayed shut. The mayor of Montréal recommended that citizens not go out and stay off the roads, and by all accounts, most people did.

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Watch your stepWatch your step

Watch your step

Of course, there were those that chose to go about their business anyhow.

Old Montréal is an interesting place; most of the buildings are between 150-200 years old, with some up to 300 (decidedly ancient by Canadian standards) and it’s a mix of businesses, residences, hotels and restaurants catering to both those residents and tourists alike.

Architects 100+ years ago weren’t very forward thinking and didn’t build underground parking garages for the future residents of their buildings. So those cars have to go somewhere – but obviously the owners of these cars heeded the Mayor’s recommendation to stay put for the day. This is the night after.

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Anyone got a shovel?Anyone got a shovel?

Anyone got a shovel?

24 hours later on Thursday night, it’s clear that Montréal’s crack snow-removal teams still had a TON of work ahead of them.

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There's a sidewalk under there somewhereThere's a sidewalk under there somewhere

There’s a sidewalk under there somewhere

By Friday, the clouds parted and the sun appeared, warming things somewhat and lending a natural hand to the snow removal crews. Some people still haven’t bothered trying to dig themselves out.

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The Aftermath 5/5The Aftermath 5/5

Here are a few out-takes. For all you Aussies who think this is exotic and would like a taste, please contact me if you’re interested in a house-swap next March.

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Photo Essay #6: Winter’s Last Gasp

Since the week of March 13 was “March break” week for my kids (their schools were closed) we decided to take the week off and get away from it all. Of course, many of our friends went down south, to warm, sunny places like Florida or Cuba, and get an all-natural dose of vitamin D.

Instead, we decided to go to Montréal. The planning seemed sound at the time; winter seemed to be on the wane, almost all of the snow in the city had melted and the forecast for the week was looking decent, with sunny days above freezing. Montréal is a great place for us to visit, as it’s close to home, we have plenty of friends & family to visit, the food is great and there’s lots to do.

A few days before we were to drive down to Montréal, the weather forecast took a turn in the wrong direction, and they were now calling for a big ol’ “nor’easter” to hit most of the eastern half of North America, with Montréal to get hit particularly hard on Tuesday the 14th.

We arrived in the city just as the snow was starting, around lunchtime. The drive wasn’t too bad, but we could see it was going to be nasty. By mid-afternoon, a fair amount of snow had accumulated, and the wind was picking up.

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You're not supposed to ride on the sidewalks, but the lee of the building seemed to be the most sensible place to be.You're not supposed to ride on the sidewalks, but the lee of the building seemed to be the most sensible place to be.

You’re not supposed to ride on the sidewalks, but the lee of the building seemed to be the most sensible place to be.

For some reason that I have yet to fully understand, Montréal is considered one of the world’s great cycling cities. Notwithstanding a winter that seems to last for 6 months, lousy infrastructure that’s always under construction, very hilly topography guaranteed to break all but the most fit into a sweat, and homicidal drivers – people ride all year long. 

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It's always cycling weather, as long as you dress for it.It's always cycling weather, as long as you dress for it.

It’s always cycling weather, as long as you dress for it.

As the afternoon wore on, things got more intense, with stronger snow and nastier winds. Most were undaunted.

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We're almost there, honey. Just a few more steps...We're almost there, honey. Just a few more steps...

We’re almost there, honey. Just a few more steps…

Dinnertime rolled around, so it was time to head out. We walked the 500m to the Métro station, where the normal 5 minute walk took us about 15 minutes. What the you can’t see is the 75km/h gusts of wind that almost blew us down at the every intersection.

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Rue Notre-Dame, looking southwest.Rue Notre-Dame, looking southwest.

Rue Notre-Dame, looking southwest.

We wound up going for a great dinner at a way-too-hip-for-us joint called Lili Co. After an excellent meal of arctic char, peas prepared like crême brulée, duck kidneys and other decidedly-not-awful offal and a to-die-for apple pie served with a huge slab of foie gras it was time to head back to the hotel. The cocktails and wine were excellent, too.

It was snowing so hard by this point that I didn’t dare take my non-weatherproofed camera out again after having taking this one shot just outside the door of the restaurant. Snow had started to drift and was up to 1 foot (30cm) deep in spots.

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Time to go "home."Time to go "home."

Time to go “home.”

By the time everything was said and done late Wednesday, something like 40cm of snow had fallen on Montréal. 

I’ll cover the aftermath in my next post.

Tasse toé!!

In a blizzard in Montréal, it’s usually a good idea to stay indoors: take the Métro, walk the Underground City, stay at the office, stay home, whatever.

Being outdoors can be downright hazardous to your health: the snow-covered streets mean cars can’t stop in time, the sidewalks are slippery, or you might even get run over by one of these things – like I almost did.

PS: “Tasse toé” is the phonetic joual (idiomatic Montréal street French) for “tasse toi” (typical Québecois French) which loosely translates to “move over” or more likely “get the hell out of the way!”