It has not been a great year for winter activity enthusiasts in Orléans. After a somewhat mild beginning to the New Year, colder temperatures during the third week of January had many hoping that better days were just around the corner, then last week’s thaw happened along with the freezing rain, closing the area’s outdoor rinks and covering the local cross-country trails with ice.
Most of the outdoor rinks in the area were open for less than a week before they were put out of action, except for the outdoor rink next to the R.J. Kennedy Arena in Cumberland Village which was open for two weeks.
The inclement weather also forced the Queenswood Heights Community Asso-ciation to postpone their winter festival two weeks until Feb. 9.
Last January, was one of the warmest Januarys on record with an average daily high of -2.3 degrees and average overnight low of 9.3 degrees.
This past month, the average daily high and overnight low have been nearly the same. As of last Saturday, the average daily high stood at -3.1 degrees and the average overnight low was -10 degrees.
The only real difference has been in the amount of snow. Last January, Ottawa had a total accumulation of 96.5 cm. During the first three weeks of January this year, Ottawa received 54.4 cm.
Last week’s freezing rain also forced the NCC to close the Rideau Canal to skaters after being open for just a few days.
How long it will remain closed is any-body’s guess. If the overnight low continues to hover in the negative teens, it should take only a few days for the NCC to open up portions of the skateway.
Last week’s freezing rain is actual helpful in getting Orléan’s outdoor rinks back in shape. It levels out the base and makes it easier to flood the surface once the temperatures drop.
With any luck, the outdoor rinks should reopen within a week or two, as long as Mother Nature cooperates.
The temperatures can’t drop fast enough for organizers of this year’s Winterlude festival which gets underway this weekend and runs until Feb. 19.
The canal is set to host the capital’s first Capital Pride Ice Parade on Feb. 11 and the Ice Dragon Boat Festival on Feb, 9.
The Ice Dragon Boat Festival was can-celled last year when the Skateway didn’t open for the first time in its history. This is the first year for the Pride Ice Parade.
If the weather prevents organizers from reopening the Skateway, both the Ice Dragon Boat Race and the Pride Ice Parade will be moved to another location.
For more information about this year’s Winterlude festival, visit www.canada.ca/en/