Thaw foils much of NCC’s party preparations

David Gonczol/for metro ottawa


Children from Leslie Park Public School meet Papa Ice Hog and his family — the official Winterlude mascots — yesterday at Ottawa International Airport. Papa Ice Hog is hoping for colder weather in coming weeks so Winterlude can be a frozen affair.

With nearly all the work they accomplished making snow in Jacques Cartier Park last week literally down the drain, National Capital Commission officials refuse to let their hopes for Winterlude melt.

The unusual January thaw has weakened ice that was beginning to build on the Rideau Canal Skateway and has stalled work on the Gatineau snow slides, but weather fluctuations are something the NCC overcomes each year.

“We’re waiting out the mild weather in order to make snow,” said NCC spokeswoman Kathryn Keyes. “We continue to work with snow structures right up until the week prior to Winterlude. We do work when the weather permits.”

Still, with three weeks to go before Winterlude opens, January temperatures that have hit 10 C have thrown a curve. The NCC had spent four days making snow this month that has since disappeared. And there was no work being done on the canal as of yesterday.

“I’ve never seen snow disappear like it has,” said David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada. “It’s disappeared right before your eyes. We’ve broken daily max temperatures three days in a row and that’s quite unusual.”

But there’s good news for the Winterlude committee since Phillips says the January thaw will soon end.

“We’re going to return to something more typical for this time of year early next week,” said Phillips.

“But it’s not enough to grow ice.”

When the temperature gets to -2 C again, the NCC will resume snowmaking at Jacques Cartier Park, said Keyes. Up to 35,000 cubic metres of snow is needed to build attractions.


  • This year will be the 30th edition of Winterlude.

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