Dan Schaumann

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No streetcars today (the Toronto Ice Storm)

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December 22nd, 2013 Posted 10:30 pm

In the very early hours of the morning I was awoken by strange whirring noises and sharp flashes of light radiating through my bedroom window. At first I thought it was some kind of hallucinogenic dream, but as I regained consciousness and peered behind the curtains I found a streetcar creeping along the tracks at a very slow pace. Each inch it travelled, it would let out a bright electrical spark at the point where the trolley pole touched the overhead electrical line. I assumed it was a faulty tram on its way back to the depot for repairs and I returned to my slumber, completely unaware that Toronto was in the midst of one of the most catastrophic ice storms in recent history.

Unlike a conventional storm of wind & heavy rain, an ice storm is formed when light drizzle mixes with a sub-freezing ambient temperature. A layer of ice gently and gradually materialises on exposed surfaces; often unnoticed if it occurs overnight, as proven in my case. Its dangers include an increased risk of road accidents, slips & falls on the footpaths, and the collapse of trees & power lines under the pressure of the icy build-up. This can of course lead to loss of electricity, heating and plumbing – all vital for survival during the winter months. As I write this, an estimated 250,000 people across Greater Toronto are without power, a very un-Christmas-like situation which may not be rectified for another three days.

Having said that, the meteorological anomaly also has the ability to transform everyday objects such as bicycles, plants and rubbish bins into spectacular works of natural art, quite unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before. It wasn’t until I woke up again at around 9am that I looked out my window and first saw the effects of the ice storm for myself, on the overhead electrical lines above Dundas St West. One thing was for sure as I made my way outside to investigate further: there would be no streetcars today.

 

Toronto Ice Storm-1

No streetcars today

 

Toronto Ice Storm-2

(B)icicle

 

Toronto Ice Storm-3

Smoking dog / frozen tree

 

Toronto Ice Storm-4

Cold Kensington shrubbery

 

Toronto Ice Storm-5

Frozen berries

 

Toronto Ice Storm-6

Some playground equipment in Bellevue Square Park

 

Toronto Ice Storm-7

Polar pines adjacent to the playground

 

Toronto Ice Storm-8

Frozen tears

 

Toronto Ice Storm-9

Al fresco

 

Toronto Ice Storm-10

Outside a Kensington fashion boutique

 

Toronto Ice Storm-11

Bellevue Avenue

 

Toronto Ice Storm-12

A white driveway along Nassau Street

 

Toronto Ice Storm-13

I’m pretty sure this is the same streetcar that edged past my bedroom window in the early hours of the morning. He was stuck there presumably until the overhead lines defrosted.

 

Toronto Ice Storm-14

The almost-glacial Trinity Bellwoods Park

 

Toronto Ice Storm-15

A frozen pond in Trinity Bellwoods

 

Toronto Ice Storm-16

Rubbish bin

 

Toronto Ice Storm-17

Tennis court

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This entry was posted on Sunday, December 22nd, 2013 at 10:30 pm and is filed under Blog, Canada, Photography, Travel. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Responses to “No streetcars today (the Toronto Ice Storm)”

  1. DuvessSimone
    12:37 am on December 24th, 2013

    Oh these photos are AMAZING!!!!!
    I have honestly never heard of an ice storm? i know of snow storms, blizzards, etc. so thanks for explaining that all. pretty scary stuff though . . . do you yourself have power?

  2. Dan Schaumann
    4:28 pm on December 26th, 2013

    Cheers Simone! Thankfully there were no power problems where I am, although a massive tree in Bellevue Square Park toppled over a few hours after I was there! There are still 50,000 people without power today 🙁 Yesterday I went for a walk with my housemates around an area 10km east of the city and there were a few streets there without power, there were still trees over powerlines and exposed wires, it was pretty scary. Check out this photo, it’s the best pic I’ve seen of the ice storm so far.

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