Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

A man cross-country skis past Parliament Hill during a winter snow storm in Ottawa, on Feb. 13, 2019.

CHRIS WATTIE/Reuters

It’s a good thing February is the shortest month. Canadians probably couldn’t bear another brutal day of it.

Piercing cold, ferocious winds, treacherous ice and snow piled into Himalayan peaks on front lawns: This was a picture of Canada in February, as a vast country became united in a coast-to-coast cocktail of meteorological misery. As March sets in, so is winter weariness.

“February cursed us,” said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada. “Even fans of winter have to say that February was too much. Either too much snow, too much cold, it just went on, there was no break. Nature did not take a breather in February.”

Story continues below advertisement

Canadians experienced the “too much” of February in their own distinct ways, evoking what Leo Tolstoy said about families: Happy families are all alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

Victoria got record snowfalls, Saskatoon saw wind chills of -50 C, and Montreal got smothered in ice.

Mr. Phillips, who likens himself to the country’s “national psychologist,” has observed that Canadians feel better about the weather when they look afield. “If Canadians know it’s worse somewhere else, they don’t feel so bad.”

In that vein, they can look at Sudbury. It’s been swamped by 334 centimetres of snow this season, 70 per cent more than average.

“It essentially looks like the Arctic here,” said Dillan Ruthenberg, president of Maximum Lawn Care and Snow Removal, whose crews have been grabbing sleep between 12-hour shifts of snow removal. February saw 100 cm of snow alone.

“There are extremely high banks everywhere. People are getting stuck on side roads, and there are ruts from where the tires are. It’s absolutely awful.” His company is deluged by calls from frantic homeowners who can no longer shovel themselves out.

“People are saying they have nowhere to put the snow,” Mr. Ruthenberg said.

Story continues below advertisement

Then there’s Saskatoon: The city’s average temperature in February was -24 C, and several days it was so cold that buses were cancelled and Environment Canada issued frostbite warnings. Wind chills frequently dropped to the -40 C range.

One meteorologist tweeted Wednesday with some good news: “This was Saskatoon’s warmest morning of the month with a low temp of -18, feeling like a balmy -29 with wind chill!”

One of the coldest spots in Saskatchewan was the community of Val Marie near the Montana border, where the temperature dipped in February to -45 C.

“It was damn cold,” Mayor Roland Facette said from inside his Dodge pickup on his cattle farm on Thursday. The 77-year-old said it was even hard on his cattle, which were out all day. A few people in Val Marie complained, but he’s being upbeat.

“It could have been worse. Heck, there could have been 50-mile-an-hour wind,” Mr. Facette said. “We didn’t have the wind. It was just cold.”

Victoria experienced its second-coldest February on record.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

Victoria, which likes to remind freezing Canadians that it has the mildest climate in Canada, got an Arctic blast that delivered the second-coldest February on record. The city’s 68 cm of snow last month was 10 times the normal volume and the most since officials began tracking data in 1941.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Phillips joked that it was retribution for the city’s annual “Flower Count” in early March, when Victoria promotes its blooms and blossoms.

“The Arctic outbreak came, and the snow came, and the rest of us cheered,” he quipped.

While February saw snowstorms in Vancouver and Victoria, Edmontonians had four days when it was -30 C or lower, and Calgary had its coldest February since 1936.

Canadians like to tease Torontonians for being weather wimps, but residents of Canada’s largest city may have whining rights this year. The city has had only nine dry days since Jan. 1, Mr. Phillips said. Something has fallen from the sky every other day, including 130 cm of snow, 50 per cent more than normal.

How to train properly to avoid snow-shovelling problems

Fed up with this never-ending winter? Book a sunny family getaway now

It’s not the weather that’s cold – it’s us

Rene Lanteigne gets help from her dog, Molly, as she shovels her walk on Feb. 13, 2019 in Deux-Montagnes, Que.

Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

As for Montreal, winter has felt like a relentless cycle of snow, rain, slush and frozen precipitation. Several sidewalks are coated with enough ice to sustain a decent game of shinny, and stores have seen a run on crampons.

The Urgences-santé ambulance service has had 800 calls for falls, with injuries ranging from wrist and ankle sprains to concussions. “On some surfaces, like parking lots, we’re talking about sheer ice,” said Valérie Tremblay, a spokeswoman for the service. “Even the salt and abrasives can’t handle it.”

Story continues below advertisement

Montreal saw nine days of thaws and freezing in February, according to Mr. Phillips, meaning that whatever was liquid on the ground during the day turned to ice overnight.

“It was maple-syrup weather – above freezing during the day, below freezing at night,” Mr. Phillips said. “What nature melted, it also froze.”

To experience schadenfreude, he suggested looking at the nation’s capital. Ottawa got 263 cm of snow this season, 56 per cent more than usual. The city has also been through numerous thaw-and-freeze cycles. Residents are posting pictures on social media of cars entombed in frozen slush and kids practising their hockey moves on the street – in skates. Stores are running low on abrasives.

“If I was giving a gold medal to misery, I think it would probably be Ottawa,” Mr. Phillips said.

Arctic air and shifting jet streams help explain Canada’s harsh winter conditions this year, particularly the cold, said Gerald Cheng, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

“Arctic air masses keep invading the south,” he said. “The jet stream is dipping south. It allowed colder air from the North Pole to come in.”

Story continues below advertisement

The impact has spread across the country: ski resorts in Ontario and Quebec dealing with high winds, storms closing schools in Atlantic Canada, and Quebec’s Gaspé getting swallowed under 450 cm of snow.

“No one has really been left out of this misery,” Mr. Phillips said. “February will go down in Canadian history from coast-to-coast-to-coast as one of the most difficult months. It has been truly Canadian.”​

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies