Bad news about winter
Time to look ahead to winter and what we might expect from it this year. There’s bad news and more bad news.
Sorry about that but this is Canada, the country that has the world’s lowest average daily temperature – minus 5.6 Celsius.
Also, we have the world’s second coldest national capital. Ottawa ranks second in cold only to Ulaanbaatar, the capital of Mongolia.
So news of a cold and snowy winter ahead should not shock.
The Weather Network has given us a sneak preview of its 2018-19 winter forecast. Ontario, it says, will have a winter much like last year with bitter spells followed by significant periods of milder weather.
That sounds like more miserable patches of freezing rain conditions that last winter brought us not-so-great skiing, not so great sledding, much tense driving on icy roads and left us yearning for a real good old-fashioned Ontario winter.
A good old-fashioned winter is exactly what North America’s two best-known, old-fashioned weather predictors are predicting for us.
“Very, very cold,” says The Farmers’ Almanac. And, above normal snowfall.
Colder than normal and snowier than normal for all of Canada, says The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Just so not to be confused there are two Farmers Almanacs. One is The Old Farmer’s Almanac of New Hampshire established in 1792. The other is The Farmers’ Almanac (minus the Old) established in 1818 in New Jersey. (Note the different placements of the apostrophe).
Both claim prediction accuracy rates in the 80 per cent range. However, professional weather people usually raise an eyebrow when hearing weather prognostications from the almanacs.
The almanacs have formulas for predicting weather but these are closely guarded secrets. They apparently are based on magnetic storms on the sun and other such astrological events.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac keeps its secret formula in a black box at its offices. The secret formula of The Farmers’ Almanac is known only to someone named Caleb Weatherbee, which we assume is a pseudonym.
Meanwhile there is much talk about how climate change is disturbing weather patterns and making precise weather forecasting difficult. The world has seen a lot of unexpected weather events over the past year or so.
The Florida Panhandle, devastated last week by Hurricane Michael, saw snowflakes last January. The State of Georgia had 15 centimetres of snow about the same time.
It snowed in the Sahara Desert last January and in February dozens of people died in a cold snap in the U.K., Ireland and parts of Europe. It also snowed in Rome in February and at the end of June in Newfoundland.
Last April was the coldest in 124 years in a couple parts of the U.S. and it certainly wasn’t much warmer in Canada. The average high temperature in Haliburton County last April was 5.9 Celsius. The warmest it got that month was 17.5 Celsius.
That was followed by a warm May and an unusually warm and dry summer. The average high temperature for May in Haliburton was 22.1 Celsius.
Weather ups and downs likely will be a prominent feature for the future.
There is plenty of argument about whether global warming is causing all the changes. But extreme weather events are nothing new, although there seem to be more of them these days.
One thing to watch is Arctic ice cover, which is shrinking every year. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it is happening naturally or caused by human-produced global warming. It is happening and there is little doubt it is affecting world weather.
In the last 40 years the Canadian Arctic has lost 40 per cent or more of its ice cover. When ice melts it exposes dark waters.
Scientists say that Arctic ice and snow reflects about 80 per cent of the sun’s radiation. Dark water reflects only 20 per cent.
Less ice and snow reflecting the sun’s rays exposes dark waters that absorb the sun’s rays and therefore become warmer. More water warming means more ice melting exposing more warming waters.
That’s a cycle that you don’t have to be a scientist to understand.
Meanwhile, northwestern Ontario already has received its first dumpings of snow. Looking at the 14-day forecast, ours could be only days, or hours, away.