To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake it is necessary to stand out in the cold ~ Unknown
When my husband and I announced to all our family and friends that we were leaving Nova Scotia and moving to Manitoba the number 1 response was "But their winters are horrible!". I must admit, I was afraid of Manitoba winters and the severe cold but the adjustment wasn't as bad as I imagined it to be. Here is a general idea of an east coast winter vs. a prairie winter from my experiences.
Nova Scotia: Lots of heavy, wet snow often. Lots of shoveling and plowing. Slush, freezing rain, black ice, puddles of melted snow. Temperatures range from -10 degrees to +5 depending on the day. Roads are salted and sanded and for the most part the plows do a pretty good job and the roads are pretty good except when a snowstorm hits. Everything feels damp and cold to the bone. Schools get cancelled because the roads are very slippery.
Manitoba: Really really dry cold plus wind chill can make it feel like -40 degrees in January and February. Proper winter boots and winter jackets and long underwear are necessary. So cold you can get frostbitten easily. Light fluffy snow, very irregularly, it is almost like it gets too cold to even snow. Roads are covered with packed down snow most of the time even if it hasn't snowed in days and the plows never use salt or sand and for the most part do a horrible job. The wind is horrible and blows snow drifts up against your house and in the roads. Schools get cancelled because it is too cold to go outside.
People can debate what is better or worse but no matter where you are - Nova Scotia or Manitoba - winters are horrible. Two horrible snowstorms stick out in my mind as the worst I've ever experienced - one in Nova Scotia and one in Manitoba.
The Nova Scotia one took place in February 2004 and was nicknamed "White Juan" as it mimics Hurricane Juan that took place a few months earlier that destroyed parts of Halifax Regional Municipality. The storm was horrible and dropped 95 cms of wet, heavy snow, completely burying cars in the parking lot. It was the most snow received in 24 hours since 1950 and was designated as a nor'easter blizzard. I was scheduled to fly to Cuba the next morning for a girls only vacation and I didn't think I would make it. I can remember watching people fight in the parking lot of my apartment building while attempting to move the snow, claiming that each other was simply clearing the snow around their car and tossing it directly on the next vehicle over. Thankfully I made it to the airport in time and was very happy to escape the winter mess and instead lay in the sun on the beach.
The other snowstorm took place in Manitoba in April 2011. It was horrible. The wind was so strong and so much snow fell that it created snow drifts up against our house. When it was all over the snow was so high that I could hardly see out my living room window. The stop sign on our street was completely buried in snow. We decided to wait until the next morning to clear the snow in the daylight. The next morning we were woken up by our doorbell ringing repeatedly over and over again. We assumed there was an emergency and someone was at the door. Nope. The snow was so high in a drift against our livingroom window and door that it was pushing against our doorbell and ringing it. Ding dong. Who's there? A snowdrift! Crazy!
Hopefully this winter is nice in Nova Scotia and in Manitoba. But I doubt it will be as Nova Scotia just got hit with their first snowstorm of the season and it is already getting colder here in Manitoba. I have a possible trip planned for Cuba again this winter (first trip back to Cuba since February 2004 after White Juan) so just my luck it will blizzard the night before like the last time! Keep your fingers crossed this doesn't happen!