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Expect the white stuff to remain: Environment Canada 0

Cheryl Browne

By Cheryl Browne, Barrie Examiner

Kayla Kaffer, 15, gears up for her first run of the season during her visit to Ski Snow Valley ON Thursday. Kaffer and many like her took advantage of the 14 centimetres of snow which fell during our second blast of winter this season. MARK WANZEL PHOTO

Kayla Kaffer, 15, gears up for her first run of the season during her visit to Ski Snow Valley ON Thursday. Kaffer and many like her took advantage of the 14 centimetres of snow which fell during our second blast of winter this season. MARK WANZEL PHOTO

Mother Nature was a little behind schedule when she delivered a white Christmas across the province on Boxing Day.

But according to senior climatologist David Phillips at Environment Canada, now that it’s here, it’s going to stay.

“We’re going to see several days with temperatures below the freezing mark. I’d say it’s going to last,” Phillips said.

He said climatologists watched this storm — which began in California and moved across the mid-west as a series of deadly tornadoes — coming towards the eastern seaboard for a week.

“It reached New York and Cape Cod Wednesday and its tentacles reached north and brought the snow,” he said.

While cities to the east such as Brockville and Montreal saw upwards of 30 to 40 centimetres, Barrie and the Toronto area only had to shovel out from under 15 centimetres, he said. But, as Phillips points out, one person’s curse is another’s blessing.

“This weather will make the skiers and snowboarders jump with glee,” he said.

Peter Hanney, general manager of Ski Snow Valley, located outside of Barrie, is grateful for the help Mother Nature is lending at this important time of year for the ski industry.

“It’s great. The snow is falling; it’s fluffy and we’re happy,” he said on Thursday.

“All the runs aren’t quite open yet but we’re making great powder, which is wonderful for this time of year, compared to the soft start we had last year.”

Cooler temperatures and technology are making up for what isn’t falling from the sky.

“Manmade snow is what keeps us going,” Hanney said. “Our snow-makers are working like dogs to add to the natural snow.”

Over at Hardwood Ski and Bike in Oro-Medonte Township, an additional 25 centimetres of snow early Thursday morning has made a good thing even better for the 18 of 30 kilometres of trails that are already up and running.

“It looks like we’ll have pretty much all the trails open on Friday,” said president and general manager Jack Sasseville. “We’re grooming and repacking trails today and having that new snow adding to the snow pack is great.”

Conditions are good, he added.

“We have nice powder conditions and the temperature’s not too cold. We’re looking forward to a very busy weekend,” he said.

For those who don’t have shelter, many of the social services welcomed the cold, tired or weary across Barrie.

“The street centre was open for services today and welcomed many in first thing this morning for a hot cup of coffee, a warm shower, gloves, coats and a smile of course,” said Sara Peddle at the David Busby Street Centre.

“Everyone weathered through just fine as the wonderful folks at the Out of the Cold and participating shelters were there to take them in.”

In fact, Barrie’s Out of the Cold program offered 21 people a warm place to sleep at St. Mary’s Catholic Church during the storm, said organizer Karen Sanderson.

“Everyone was really thankful to get in from the snow. It was such a miserable night,” Sanderson said.

However, when Aaron Belleghem, 22, and Brennan Esteves, 21, woke up to a white world Thursday, they heard opportunity knocking.

“It’s a business opportunity,” said Belleghem as they shovelled a neighbour’s driveway. “We make $10 or $20, and some people give you a nice tip, or something hot to drink.”

Esteves, who eschewed Belleghem’s scoop shovel for an old-fashioned kind, said he doesn’t mind shovelling when it’s not too cold. “It only takes half an hour. If we move fast, we stay warm,” he said.

Although many chose to hunker down indoors as the snow and wind continued throughout the day, Liam McCallion, 13, and his father Charlie found Liam a pair of size 12 skates and took to the Circle at the Centre skating rink at Barrie City Hall.

“He can’t be lying on the couch playing video games all day,” Charlie said. “We needed a little fresh air to skate that turkey off.”

— With files from Ian McInroy

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