Cabot Trail near the summit of MacKenzies Mountain

Cabot Trail near the summit of MacKenzies Mountain
Photo 11 of 34: Cabot Trail near the summit of MacKenzies Mountain
Taken 2010 March 6 in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park from the Cabot Trail
near the summit of MacKenzies Mountain
GPS 46°49.???'N 60°51.???'W

This photograph is copyright © 2010 by Charlie MacEachern,
remains the sole property of the photographer,
and has been used here with explicit permission.

In the second and third paragraphs of Chapter 4 of Bill Danielson’s Cape Breton Weather Watching for the naturally curious,¹ he makes this interesting point:

There’s no doubt that snow is the central player in Cape Breton’s winter pageant. Snow is what people talk about, revel in, compain about. Snow dominates the media. Vast amounts of newsprint and TV time are devoted to the latest snowstorm to hit or the next one to come. And when there is a spell with no snow, that makes the news too.
But there’s more to a Cape Breton winter than just snow. Why, there’s also freezing rain! And there’s sleet, ice pellets and sometimes plain rain. There’s ice, on road, river and ocean. There’s wind, lots of wind. And after all that, there are the most brilliant, blue days of the whole year, when the air posesses a spectacular clarity, days that owe their dazzle to winter’s blanket of ice and snow. […]

The gorgeous winter day in early March seen in this photo, taken on the Cabot Trail near the summit of MacKenzies Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, most assuredly qualifies as one of those “blue” days! What a treat it must have been to make this drive with clear roads on such a day!

Judging from the thick coating on the trees on both sides of the Cabot Trail as well as on those beyond the curve in the far distance, the snow must have been very wet and heavy for it to have so caked the branches and remained in place despite the gusty winds that commonly sweep across the Cape Breton Highlands plateau.

And how high the snow is here! Considerably deeper than that seen in the previous photo on French Mountain, it’s almost like driving through a tunnel whose top half has been removed and left open to the sky. Yet what is seen here is still just a fraction of the total snowfall the Cape Breton Highlands receive on average each year: 400 cm (13.12 ft).²

¹ Cape Breton University Press, Sydney, 2007 [ISBN-13 978-1-897009-13-0; ISBN-10 1-897009-13-5]

² Op. cit., Figure 4.18, page 55. On page 54, Bill Danielson says that, in the winter of 2000-2001, Dingwall (on Aspy Bay north of South Mountain in the Cape Breton Highlands) got more than 600 cm (19.69 ft)! I have been unable to locate any definitive information about the year with the greatest snowfall either in the Highlands or elsewhere in Cape Breton itself, though Figure 4.18 makes it pretty clear that the Highlands should be the record-owner. Although he does give in Figure 4.19 on p. 56 the annual snowfall statistics for Sydney from 1900-2005, where the winter of 1963-1964 was the only year to cross the 500 cm (16.4 ft) threshold (and that by perhaps a third — 33 cm (1.08 ft)), Sydney’s weather is often very different from that of the Highlands and other Cape Breton regions, so the question remains open.