Spring, is that you?
By Chad Ingram
Published March 23, 2017
Spring technically arrived this week, making its entrance Monday.
It was an understated entrance. Barely noticeable, in fact. Little sun or warmth, not the sort of the day that sends early bulbs into bloom.
That was the day before. Monday was a frost-bitten morning that gave way to a cloudy, grey malaise of an afternoon.
There has of course never been a switch that is flicked when a new season arrives, magically morphing the weather to a stereotypical, season norm through some enchanted thermostat.
The changing of the seasons takes time.
More and more, though, it seems like the four seasons we know in this country are experiencing an identity crisis. The passing of the proverbial baton from one to the next can become a violent tug of war. Look at the mild spell we recently experienced in Haliburton County, temperatures peaking around 10 degrees Celsius during the day, then plummeting to nearly minus 20 at night. A swing of nearly 30 degrees in a 24-hour period.
Mother Nature is going manic.
A record was set in Toronto on Feb. 23 of this year, with the temperature reaching 17.7 degrees Celsius on that winter day.
Last spring, Haliburton County residents may recall, we had snow in May, and frost in June resulted in some flowerbed fatalities.
These transforming weather patterns pose much greater problems than dead flowers or conundrums over which coat to wear.
While this winter in the county was more wintry than the past couple in terms of snowfall, it was still punctuated by a few unseasonably warm thaw periods that left snowmobile trails and ski hills a slushy mess, as well as undermined the thickness of the ice on area water bodies. Despite the snowy whiteness of this winter, ice conditions were quite precarious in some cases.
Shortened ice fishing, snowmobiling and skiing seasons all have negative economic connotations for the area.
Along with increasing frequency of extreme temperatures comes increasing frequency of severe precipitation events, with more frequent flooding expected by climatologists in coming years. Flooding wreaks havoc on municipal infrastructure – roads, bridges, storm management systems, etc. – and has negative economic ramifications of its own.
In February, the federal government announced new programs – the Municipalities for Climate Innovation Program and the Municipal Asset Management Plan – that will deliver $125 million in funding through the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Haliburton County’s townships each have advisory committees of some sort dealing with issues of environment, green energy and climate change and the work of these committees will be increasingly important moving forward.
At some point, substantial and expensive alternations will be required along the Gull River in Minden to safeguard the community against flooding.
But for now, let’s just enjoy the spring.