Icy Waves break over Sunnyside breakwater in Toronto

Icy Waves break over Sunnyside breakwater in Toronto

Waves breaking on Lake Ontario at Sunnyside in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

On a winter morning, Bob and I left our house to scope out Colonel Samuel Smith Park at the edge of Lake Ontario.  We were on the hunt for some Snowy Owls that had been seen there a couple of days earlier.  We had no idea that, later that same day, surging waves driven by gale-force winds would be battering the Toronto waterfront.

Icy waves breaking on Lake Ontario at Sunnyside in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

After spending a couple of hours searching the spit of land at Colonel Samuel Smith Park and around the marina located there, we found no birds to speak of so headed further west to La Salle Park in Burlington to seek a recently-spotted Eastern Screech Owl.

Icy waves on Lake Ontario off Sunnyside in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Coming up empty-handed again, we drove back into Toronto via Lakeshore Boulevard.  While cruising along near Sunnyside Beach, we were within sight of the shoreline.  Mountainous icy waves pounding the shore and breakwater had us in disbelief.

Waves breaking on Lake Ontario at Sunnyside in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Southwest winds gusting to 65 kph had ruled the whole day, but by late in the afternoon, around 5 o’clock, the gusts were being clocked at 100 kph.  Lake Ontario was being whipped into a turbulent sea of violent wave action.

Icy waves breaking at Sunnyside on Lake Ontario in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

It was exhilarating to watch the mounting icy waves as they crested and then crashed.  By times, the hurricane-force winds would snatch the crest of a wave and cast the water far and wide.  There was so much spray in the air that the lens on my camera became iced over.

Camera lens covered in misty rain at Sunnyside on Lake Ontario in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

When I turned to snap a photo of Bob who was backlit by the setting sun, it was as if I was peering through pebbled glass.

Icy waves at Sunnyside on Lake Ontario in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Massive rollers thundered ashore sending blobs of flotsam, silt and spray into the air to be quickly dispersed by the wind into the parking lot and all surrounding areas.  An icy crust on top of the snow had buoyed us up when we walked from the car to the sandy beach, and surprisingly, it was not slippery at all because of the fine sand settling on everything around.  Despite all that crashing wave action, chunks of ice and roiling waters, a small group of ducks, Common Goldeneye I think, seemed delighted to dive beneath the breakers.

Icy waves breaking at Sunnyside on Lake Ontario in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

It was mesmerizing to see one huge icy wave after another roll over the breakwater, each one carrying large slabs of ice that were added to the mass of pack ice betwixt the jetty and the beach.

Icy waves breaking as the sunsets at Sunnyside on Lake Ontario in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I had only to look westward to see the golden yet hazy sun poke its head through the dark grey masses of clouds gathered on the horizon.  The sun’s rays were deceptive, though, as no warmth radiated from them at all.  Instead, a deep, penetrating cold pierced the very fabric of our coats and probed beneath our multiple layers of sweaters.

Icy waves breaking on Lake Ontario at Toronto, Ontario, Canada

As Bob and I looked on, distant skyscrapers seemed to settle lower on the waterfront when huge waves rose up in the foreground and blocked portions of the buildings from view.  With the buildings ominously silhouetted by the weak rays of the sun, it seemed that disaster was about to unfold like in a scene from some science fiction movie.

Icy waves breaking on Lake Ontario at Toronto, Ontario, Canada

After braving the wind and frigid temperatures for about 45 minutes, Bob and I were finally chilled to the bone and retreated to the protection of our automobile.  It only took moments to chase the chills away with the seat heaters on high and the fan blowing hot air.  I have always wanted to see Lake Ontario when it was tempestuous, but had not expected it to be in the winter.  Next time, maybe a fierce summer storm will draw us to the waterfront to witness the power of nature.

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