But it’s a cold heat…

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Heat, as they say, is relative: whether it’s the salsa or the temperature, what’s hot for one is not necessarily hot for another. Even in science, heat is a process involving the transfer of energy, not a specific number as it relates to temperature. And so this story from the Great White North about the unusual heat which, in this case, is allowing the ice roads to melt too early and fall into disrepair — trapping people and vehicles while preventing a half-year’s worth of supplies from reaching their destination.

Making hay while the sun shines. A "train" of loaded supply trucks moves north while a couple of empty trucks head south. Photo: dzblog.net

The ice roads are the lifelines to civilizations that would otherwise only be accessible by air. With the ice roads open, months’ worth of supplies are trucked in; trucks running the roads 24 hours per day each day of the week — as long as the ice will support them. Perhaps you’ve seen History Channel’s "Ice Road Truckers" which details the job, the roads and the lives of the men and women who transport supplies along these seasonal and dangerous roads, reaching the northern communities of Canada’s Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

In addition to the athletes and thousands of spectators for the Olympics, warm weather has visited Vancouver and western Canada as mild winds from the North Pacific moved inland across British Columbia, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories much as it is doing today. Image: ImpactWeather’s Gmaps 2.0.

It usually takes months of Arctic weather to freeze the ice thick enough to support the tremendously heavy trucks. In fact, Canada’s ice roads typically don’t open until February and then begin breaking down in April. So it was with surprise that authorities were called out to rescue 139 people from the ice roads over the past several days as surprisingly mild weather has made an impact on the roads. Helicopters and earth-moving equipment have been used for the rescues, as well as many vehicles as yet not bogged down into the muck. Some of those rescued had been waiting for up to five days. As of last week, more than half of the ice roads in northern Manitoba are closed as the mild weather continues to impact the area. Many communities have not received the building and fuel supplies they will need for the coming summer months. Meaning, they will do without or pay the higher costs for air freight.

An extended stretch of "below normal" is what’s needed for Canada’s northwest territories, but it doesn’t look like that will happen. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch.

Not too difficult to figure out what happened here. Photo: dzblog.net

A friend of mine who lives in Alaska tells me the only difference between the pickups with the ATVs in the back and the ones without, is how much further out in the Boonies they are when they finally get stuck. Photo: Flickr.

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