Fort McMurray

The Weather Outside Is Frightful…and That’s It

Holy merciful crap, is it ever friggin cold!

I’m not going to lie. I’ve lived in Fort McMurray now for nearly 10 years, and I’m still shocked and amazed when the temperatures suddenly drop like a stone because winter has decided to throw a tantrum.

Today is one of those days.

I will give yesterday, February 6, 2021, an honourable mention though as it managed to hit a balmy -33 degrees Celsius. But it doesn’t sound that bad though, does it? Well, I would also like to point out that my weather app was nice enough to remind me that it felt closer to -41. Of course, there have been plenty colder, but still… IT. WAS. COLD. That being said, the air was clear and the sun was out. Thankfully, there was a silver lining there because you could at least close your eyes in front of the window and soak up some the light drifting through the frost covered glass panes, latching on to what little warmth the sun had to offer while imagining that there were palm trees and green grass on the other side. But that was a different day. And it is not this day…

Today, we hit a new low.

I began today like any other day. I woke up, showered, got dressed, and poured my coffee. Simple. Elegant. Comfortable. But then…*sigh*… it was time to start my car. Remotely of course! I pressed the button as I sipped my coffee, and lo and behold, it started. Sort of. To say my poor, budget conscious Jeep SUV was happy would be a complete lie. In fact, as the engine chugged along it suddenly roared to life. But what I heard would hardly be called life. As the vehicle started, I was greeted by an otherworldly screech. Apparently the only thing that I had succeeded in doing was releasing an angry banshee from very depths of hell. And who could blame her for being angry with me? As I covered my ears and checked the weather report for the day, I was enlightened that the temperature outside was currently sitting at -39 degrees Celsius… but it really felt like -46. Crap. I had dragged this demonic hellspawn in to this deep freeze with me. In disbelief, I tried another weather app. I breathed a sigh of relief upon reading that it was actually only -36… but then nearly screamed myself when I read that it actually felt like -57.

Not to be discouraged, I let the car run for a bit before proceeding to put on my boots and jacket and stepping out onto my driveway – a vast, ice covered tundra devoid of any signs of civilization. I gasped as I felt the warm air sucked from my lungs. In shock, I blinked repeatedly, only to find my eyelashes frozen to themselves. I ran to the car, grabbed the doorhandle, and suddenly felt the tips of my fingers burn from the frost. Finally, I managed to crawl into the drivers seat of my car, blinded, breathless, and tips of my fingers feeling as if they were on fire, when I was greeted by a message on my display panel that read “system is COLD,” as if my vehicle was trying to tell me something that I hadn’t yet noticed. I looked out the window, noticing for the first time that there was a cold, thick haze that hung heavily in the air, making it impossible to see any further than a few hundred feet away. I shook my head and checked my phone one last time, only to find that one of my coworkers was stranded because her car wouldn’t start. I knew what I had to do.

I was determined to not let this day defeat me. I put on my cape, played some heroic music, and sent her a message telling her I was on my way to pick her up. I plugged my coworkers address into the GPS and pressed start….and nothing happened. The screen was frozen. I was faced with a brief moment of panic, but it passed when I remembered I could use my phone. Success! As I put the car in reverse, it started to shake, but it cooperated. A smile crossed my lips. I was doing this! Then it came time to turn my steering wheel. I’m reluctant to admit that the amount of strength it took to turn the chilly leather wrapped wheel was far beyond what I was used to. The only way to describe it was like trying to paddle a canoe through a river of molasses in the middle of February. Nevertheless, it turned and, while moving slowly, I was on my way.

As I drove down the road, my little Jeep vibrating the whole way, I really began to notice the severity of my situation. After only having driven one kilometer, I had managed to feel every single bump, pothole, and imperfection on the road, comparable only to what I imagine it would feel like to have struck a landmine. Each thump, met with a loud spine crunching bang, and I swear my car was mere moments away from shattering like the ice that lay all around it. But I carried on, determined to complete my mission. And that’s when I saw it. One….two….three cars pulled off to the side of the road, several of them with their four-ways blinking methodically, a few others with tires blown clean off. I was starting to feel like I was in the middle of an apocalypse movie.

Despite everything, I finally reached my destination and was greeted by my coworker, who apparently and wisely decided to put on every single piece of warm clothing she had. She climbed in, and I nearly cried as the hot air rushed out of the vehicle and was replaced by the cold. But I held my composure. I did it! And as we drove to work through the frosty morning, the sun struggling to pierce the misty grey, we warmed ourselves talking of tropical destinations, warmer climates, and better days.

Yep…maybe I am weird.

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