The countdown begins

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A word to the wizened, if not always the wise: Only 35 shopping days remain before spring raises its lovely, garlanded head. Unless, of course, you count the weekends which, given the lack of money in various bank accounts around the region these days, why would you?

I like to pretend that in a little more than a calendric month, we in southeastern New Brunswick will be well on our way to a long, beatific summer. Of course, I like to imagine a lot of things that only rarely come true.

About this time last year, I was feeling pretty much the same way as I am today about the universe. In the first place, it looked like we had, for once, dodged the great, white bullet of winter. No more talk of polar vortexes, Alberta clippers and Nor’easters. Only sunny skies and gradually warming temperatures stretching ahead as far the mind’s eye could see.

We all know how that worked out. Two days before the official start of spring 2015, the Weather Network, with its irritating, trademarked cheerfulness, recapped the winter that was:

“According to unofficial totals as of March 18, this winter has now brought snowfall amounts that crack the Top 5 in Moncton, N.B., Saint John, N.B., and Charlottetown, P.E.I. As of Tuesday, March 17, Moncton was only 2 cm away from reaching the Top 5 with a snowfall total of 450 cm. As of 9:35 a.m. AT Wednesday morning, Moncton unofficially reported about 4 cm, which would put them in the no. 5 spot, knocking off the 1991-1922 winter.”

Still, what gives me hope that February and March of this year won’t, again, prove me a liar to myself is another Weather Network bulletin issued just last week. To wit: “The past two winters were dominated by a particularly resilient weather pattern, which kept the warm influence of the Pacific confined to the West Coast, and left the Eastern US open to persistent outbreaks of brutal Arctic cold. The winter of 2015-2016 finally looks to bring an end to this stubborn setup.”

Ah, yes. Good, old El Niño, the oceanic phenomenon that typically brings milder-than-average weather to the eastern seaboard, and chillier-than-seasonal temperatures to the southwest. The continent is experiencing an usually strong one this year. Or as the Weather Network reported a couple of months ago, “El Niño set a new record for heat in the central Pacific Ocean this week (November 24). Is it on track to become the strongest El Niño we’ve ever seen, and what could this mean for the winter?

“So far, El Niño 2015 has been very unusual. Teasing NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) orecasters with signs and signals through 2014, it ultimately procrastinated in its actual development until early 2015 and it has been growing since, into a rival for some of the strongest El Niños we have on record. As of now, it has already set a new record, though. Weekly measurements of temperatures in the central Pacific ocean are now 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for the very first time in the quarter century that these measurements have been taken.”

On the other hand, as in all things weather related in this region, we hold our breath in abeyance of any certainty that our faith will be rewarded. For my part, I’ve lined up my seven shovels on the front veranda as if to challenge the first truly big blow to hit the city.

C’mon, I dare ya!

Tomorrow, it’ll be a mere 34 shopping days till spring. And I’m on a roll to blossom time.

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