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Snow Job

Snowed In Sunday
Forget death and taxes: the one real constant in life is breathy local news coverage of almost any kind of weather. Watching TV news reporters acting bewildered by temperature fluctuations or any amount of precipitation, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the giant dome that has maintained the city’s perfect 21° year-round weather for hundreds of years had just broken down, letting sandstorms, radiation, and monsters invade the city from the post-apocalyptic wasteland that surrounds it.
Take CityNews‘s six o’clock coverage yesterday. Francis D’Souza‘s astonishment at the massive snowbank on the side of the street was only the beginning. “I mean, look at this snowbank,” he exclaimed in his story’s lead, gesturing at a pile of snow that came up to his knees. “It comes up to my knees.” Can you believe that it got worse from there?
Meteorologist Michael Kuss followed up by pressing his gloved hand into an untouched patch of snow on Queen Street, measuring its depth to demonstrate the gravity of the situation. He held his hand up for the camera like a cake tester pulled out of a fresh muffin, estimating the accumulation at “probably six, seven centimeters already.” Don’t try this at home kids, he’s a trained professional and, according to his bio, a “Level 2 snowboard instructor.” If anyone knows snow, he does.
Not quite done with underwhelming weather-related visual stunts, City continued with Chris Potter in Oakville, who showed viewers a barren parking lot with wind-blown “wisps (of snow) floating by.” Haven’t we all seen snow blowing across a parking lot before? Apparently not. Potter went on to explain how this wind-blown snow collects into these things called “snow drifts.” Who knew? And just in case viewers were wondering just how troublesome these so-called drifts would be, Potter duplicated Kuss’s stunt and recklessly plunged his hand into one, declaring it to be “a few centimeters” deep. Oh, the humanity.
And then there were the inevitable man-on-the-street interviews, with Marianne Dimain asking such hard-hitting questions as, “Do you like driving in this weather?” and “Are you tired of shovelling?” Fascinating.
With all this fuss over snowbanks up to your knees, snow on Queen Street sidewalks almost deep enough to cover your fingers, and snow drifts in parking lots almost ankle deep, is it any wonder that the rest of the country thinks that Toronto is one giant wimp? Perhaps the best treatise on this subject hails from last winter, when Rick Mercer covered Toronto’s overreaction to snow in a bit of level-headed commentary masquerading as satire.
None of this is to say that it didn’t snow a lot yesterday, or that there weren’t any problems because of it. Sure it did, and sure there were. But for all the attention they pay to the weather, TV reporters seem to have difficulty moving beyond stating the obvious and performing silly visual stunts. “It’s snowing,” they’ll assure us at the top of each newscast. Really? What else? “It’s snowing a lot.” Tell us more. “Uh, it’s really snowing out there! Look at me, I’m wearing a toque and there’s snow on my head! Can you imagine how much snow there is out here?” Really, is that all you can tell us about this storm, that it’s snowing? “Oh, and traffic is slow, and Cam Woolley says there have been a lot of accidents.” Gee, thanks for that insight. Got any ambulances to chase?
Photo by ~EvidencE~ from the Torontoist Flickr Pool.


  • Carly Beath

    Hilarious post. Everyone keeps saying there’s so much snow, but it honestly doesn’t seem like that much to me. Francis D’Souza should check out eastern Ontario – when I went at Christmas the snowbanks were as tall as me.

  • sloanbuller

    I find the tone on Torontoist increasingly bitchy and it’s not appealing.

  • ReluctantTorontonian

    Wow, thank you. After a couple dozen winters elsewhere in our lovely province, I was starting to think I had crossed into some weird parallel dimension where winter usually courteously side-steps Canada.
    I know it’s a tired old joke, but the way that this city reacts to snow is completely surreal. I feel like I’m in the middle of some elaborate episode of Just for Laughs Gags, and the whole city is in on it except for me.

  • Ben

    We’re already at double the usual amount of snow for the winter, with triple the amount for a February. This is a lot of snow for Toronto and it is a pain in the ass.
    You could make the kind of criticisms in this article about any story on a television newscast.

  • antiboy

    I like people like sloanbuller. I think they’d want online blogs to be like their own little Romper Room.

  • acer

    Hey Sloanbuller, if you want good clean fun, why not go over to
    I’m sure they will have some great reading over there, social commentary, interesting articles, criticisms, you could learn something new about your city there. LOL

  • sloanbuller

    antiboy, I’m not saying ‘online’ blogs (as opposed to all those print blogs?) need to be warm and fuzzy. I’m just saying that when I first got a day-job and started reading Torontoist a few years back, there wasn’t all this half-assed media watchdog nonsense going on. It profiled events and people in the city and it did so with humor.
    Now if the mandate of this site has changed, fine, but I find that for every three articles about just stuff going on, there is a post about the stupidity of Star reporters or one calling out plagiarizers in very inappropriate ways. More often than not, I stay away from Torontoist and hit up sites like BlogTO because at least there I know what I am getting.
    Leave the media snarkyness to sites like the late, great ninegrambrain, please.

  • heys

    I totally agree, its always “traffic chaos” and it sounds like the hospitals are stacked with people with serious back injuries from shoveling!!!
    TV news has to make everything seem exciting for rating.

  • antiboy

    sloanbuller, I think it’s just really easy for people who complain about Torontoist’s demise to ignore all the really good, non-bitchy content that gets posted on a daily basis. Don’t get sucked into the drama if you really hate it so much.

  • kyliep

    gotta love local media…’nothing catastrophic is happening…why you should be worried…and what it means for your children’. personally enjoyed the sarcastic tone and am requesting future bitchy posts about neighbours who don’t clear their sidewalks…

  • andrew

    There are a lot of people who live in Toronto who have moved here from warmer climes. They contribute to the aggregate complaint quantity and degree of severity. I was thinking about this last night as I waited for a streetcar at Queen and Bathurst. We have a density unmatched by other Canadian cities save for Montreal and Vancouver. The snow affects our city in different ways than smaller cities and rural areas that may experience more precipitation. ‘Peggers, for instance, don’t have to worry about transporting anywhere near as many people over these kinds of distances.
    And you know what? Fuck you, the rest of Canada. Environment Canada issued an extreme winter storm alert. I have a right to complain about the snow I have to trudge through, the effects on my commute to work, and the gee dee cold. Just because you have it worse doesn’t negate my experience.

  • rek

    Wah wah wah it’s snowing. Val hit it right on the nose.

  • paigesix

    You know what else is now over-played in Toronto?
    People complaining about people complaining about the snow.
    (Tomorrow.. let me guess? There’ll be a post about “omg hallmark Valentines Day, wtf!” right?)

  • Mark Ostler

    You know what’s more important than complaining about being 10 minutes late to work because of snow, or having to pick up a shovel (and more important than complaining about the complainers)?
    Taking the time to consider the people that die or are seriously injured because of the weather. I have no problem dealing with snow or cold weather, but people get hurt and/or die in car accidents because of the snow, and homeless people suffer and die on the streets because of the cold. Bitching about the weather or your right to bitch about it, or bitching about the bitchers, seems a little bit trivial now, doesn’t it?

  • james a

    Heh, I watched Global’s 11:00 news last night ’cause City was a half hour late, and their weatherman said “I’m even a Montrealer and this much snow surprises me”, which is obviously an outright lie if you’re ever spent a winter in Montreal. :)

  • acer

    I’m just surprised that people are actually watching Citytv’s joke of a 6pm newscast.
    That’s the real story here! A-Channel in Barrie and CHCH get better ratings at six than Citytv.

  • rek

    Because people are still on their way home from work at 6.

  • Carly Beath

    Good point, mark0. The other day I was on the streetcar, and a man fell off of the uncleared sidewalk and ended up partway under the streetcar as it was pulling away from the stop. His head was bleeding profusely, but even scarier was the fact that he was about 1 second away from getting squashed. THAT’S something to complain about.

  • MariaPD

    Tyrannosaurus: And the worse part is that now they started the “newscast” at 5:00. I sometimes, possibly, make it for the 6:00 PM, but given that most people finish work at 5:00, not many are going to turn on the TV at that exact minute… unless they want to capture the audience who was watching the Ellen show, which used to show at that time. But that’s a totally different demographic, IMHO.
    (funny thing is, I was called for the “research” asking if I would watch the news at 5, I said no, I’m at work. They didn’t know who the sponsor was, but I could tell it was CityTV, the questions could only lead to one answer, and CityTV was showing all over. I guess they didn’t listen to my advice, eh?)

  • spacejack

    It’s all due to decades of global warming nutbars telling us we’d be having +10° winters by now.

  • Karen Whaley


  • Marc Lostracco

    I never really understood Citytv’s weather slogan, “If you can’t see it, you can’t track it.” Obviously, they think it’s a super-brilliant tag line and it’s on the promo spots every few nanoseconds, but it doesn’t make much sense—especially since you totally can track the weather if you can’t see it.
    They also make a big deal about being the only news team with 11 “unique weather stations” around the city, but that doesn’t seem to affect their chunky (and nice-looking) weather maps, which just have a single giant number representing the city’s temperature, as usual.
    Anyway, weird slogan.

  • rek

    The slogan is because they have all those weather stations. If you can’t see the weather, with your active radar or whatever, you can’t report on it. At least that’s what I got from it.

  • james a

    I love how much time they devote to “the currrent temperature is 3.2 degrees in burlington, oh look it’s 3.3 in north york, and oh wait it’s 3.2 in oshawa, etc etc”
    I dunno how people can deal with other channels where they don’t tell you how many tenths of a degree your neighbourhood is off from other ones in the GTA!

  • Marc Lostracco

    But all the stations have access to weather radar, so all stations can “see” the weather to track it, even if they have fewer weather stations. The entire weather segment is pretty much made up of the satellite and Environment Canada weather radar feeds anyway.
    Aside from the useless post-decimal variations, it almost gets cancelled-out by those flashy 3-D maps that all the newscasts use now, which fly around the satellite map in a 3-D perspective and make it tougher to see what they’re representing or where you’re flying over, especially when they’re zooming through cloud cover. Oh, a featureless satellite image of the GTA—that’s MUCH more useful than a simple map with dots that actually indicate Toronto, Mississauga, etc.
    In my day, all we had was Dave Devall with his glass map and grease stick—and we liked it! Kids today and their machine computers.

  • torontothegreat

    There are a lot of people who live in Toronto who have moved here from warmer climes. They contribute to the aggregate complaint quantity and degree of severity.

    IME, those people are less likely to complain about the weather. Most people I’ve met from warm climates don’t mind the winter, never quite understanding I always ask and the response is almost always the same from them:
    in (insert warm place) where I am from, when it gets hot you can only take off so many clothes to keep cool. When it gets cold here, I can just put on more and more layers.
    The logic is pretty solid I tell you. I do find that more people that are born here contribute to the complain quantity then not.

    ‘Peggers, for instance, don’t have to worry about transporting anywhere near as many people over these kinds of distances.

    Now here is a great apples vs oranges argument :P
    you realize the weather and snow levels here go completely unmatched to what would be one month’s precipitation in the peg?
    Or do you realize that most often, people have less distance to travel to and fro in Toronto than in Winnipeg (urban only).
    Have you ever actually been to Winnipeg? You have to drive EVERYWHERE. B/C of the layout of the city, it’s 20 minutes to the core (by car) and than whatever time it takes you to reach your destination past that..
    People live at the edges of the city in Winnipeg, mostly the poor and crime driven people live in the core.

  • andrew

    I’ve passed through Winnipeg. And I spent a glorious week there for a conference, alternately drunk and hung over, walking to and from everything in the midst of a remarkably mosquito-less June. People kept warning me about places not to go but considering that area basically ringed the campus, I walked through ‘em and observed it to be larger geographically than say, Jane Finch, but about as “scary”. Definitely not like wandering through Pigeon Park after dark. I picked Winnipeg at random as a place that gets probably more severe winter weather.
    No, my experience with Jamaicans, Trinis, Bajans (and other Caribbean folk), Latin Americans from throughout the Americas, West and East Africans, Australians, and South Asians, is generally one of shock and bitter resentment at how damn cold it is in Toronto. They are not even grateful when told about these mythic and terror-inducing places like Montreal, Dawson, Iqualuit, or St. John’s where it is really cold.

  • torontothegreat

    we have obviously had different experience with people indigenous to warm climates.
    Ringed what campus, UofM or UofW? UofM is the equivelant of YorkU (I’m assuming you’re talking about UofM) in that it’s cleverly put on the outskirts of the city and is the size of a small town.
    Some fact on the Peg:
    - Coldest city in the WORLD with a population of 600k or more (even colder than say, St. Petersburg or Moscow).
    - Highest murder rate per capita than anywhere else in Canada
    - Been ‘dubbed’ the ‘Gang Capital of Canada’ with more street gangs and gangsters then I’ve EVER witnessed anywhere in this beloved country (I was robbed 4 times in Winnipeg growing up).
    I guess the point is (related to the post lol) is that
    1. we live in Canada
    2. we get snow every year
    For some reason, specifically people in Toronto pretend like it’s the first time they’ve EVER seen snow in their lives when it snows here…
    It always amazes me how people think 2 feet of snow is a lot! Obviously news anchors not excluded.

  • andrew

    I guess it was U of W…er, yeah, ‘cos CJSW was hosting. And not UMFM, although they possed up and drank us all under tables, save for the people from New Brunswick. Four years of radio conferences has convinced me it’s physically impossible for people from N.B to get drunk. They just get excited and start drifting towards the kitchen.
    Again, generally we don’t see this much snow. I’m gonna grumble about it and the rest of the country can mock me all they want. Part of the price I pay for living here, not included in my higher-than-all-y’all’s-rent, is the privilege of griping about the weather even though it is not as severe as yours.
    Besides, if you were all serious about learning what is coming your way, you’d not waste your time with carnies like Michael Kuss, and head straight for the sunny, smiling, wit of Clare Martin on Newsworld.

  • jennyfish

    soooo funny…I was actually laughing out loud