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Jess Frampton

Bracing for blizzards – soon a thing of the past?

The highlight of winter in frosty Ottawa – one of the world’s coldest national capitals – is the annual opening of the Rideau Canal Skateway, when the waterway at the heart of the city is transformed overnight into the world’s largest rink. Every year since 1970, when it first opened, thousands of hardy skaters have glided to and fro on it, stopping for hot chocolate and deep-fried treats on the ice.

Every year, that is, except 2023. Last year, for the first time in five decades, the canal did not freeze hard enough for skating to be safe, delivering a blow to the tourism industry and depriving frostbitten citizens of a chance to enjoy their city when they otherwise would be huddled indoors against the bitter cold.

With a dangerous storm hammering the Northeast United States and Eastern Canada, and a blizzard hitting the Northwest, this week, readers may not be pining for more opportunities to shovel snow or slog through slush, but winters are getting warmer, which has disturbing and unpredictable implications for agriculture, water security, public safety, and winter sports.

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