Tag Archives: winter of 2015

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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She’ll be comin’ around the mountain of snow

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A change of the dominant topic of conversation within the warrens occupied by downtown Moncton office workers surely signals – if nothing else does – the imminent arrival of that long-rumoured, nearly mythological, lady called “Spring”.

Bragging rights around the water cooler no longer extend to the those who can demonstrate, via selfies, the sheer volume of snow they have, with their strained and sprained muscles, removed in any given 24-hour period.

Nope; the kings and queens of the annual March madness that is winter in Moncton are now those who can answer the question, affirmatively and with definition and confidence: “So, did drinks come with your all-inclusive package to Cuba this year?”

Pick your poison: Havana or the Dominican Republic’s Santo Domingo. Of course, some here still favour the old standards. The Mayan Riviera along Mexico’s west coast is still a sweet peach of a place. So is, for the well-traveled sophisticates among us, Valparaiso in Chile.

But wherever we choose to bake on a beach, we are sending a message to the universe: Enough, already! And, at about this time of the year, the universe always heeds our entreaties. Doesn’t it?

As I say “we”, I should clarify that I have never left my winter perch for sunny, southern locales in the thick of a Maritime winter. After all, someone should man the snow fort, shouldn’t one?

Besides, being snowbound in Moncton isn’t all bad.

It could be Charlottetown.

There, my wife and I had the exquisite pleasure (and timing) of caring for two of our grandchildren in mid-February whilst our daughter and her husband scuttled off to Costa Rica for 10 days.

“Sure, honey,” I said to Jess, as we negotiated the terms of our sojourn. “No problem at all. This is the age of mobile communications. I’ll just transfer all my files on a flash drive and work from your home office there.”

Then came the snow.

Buckets of white poured from the sky. I broke my son-in-law’s shovel just clearing off the back deck. I ventured out into the blizzard to buy the last two scoops the city proffered. I broke one (again), and the other won’t be seen until the next ice-age recedes to reveal a glacial lake where my daughter’s garden once flourished.

Did I get any work done – the sort that actually pays me to, you know, hang out with snow plow drivers in Prince Edward Island? Let’s just say I arrived home to Moncton fitter than I have been since I swam the Halifax Arm in February, on a dare, when I was 22. (By way, just try that feat this year; I’m told you can skate from Jubilee Point to Prospect Bay without breaking the ice once).

And so, in the winter of 2015, the totals mount. Saint John broke its accumulation record, so did Charlottetown. Moncton is almost there (12 centimeters to go). Halifax? Forget about it. That coastal city has wrapped itself in blankets and assumed the fetal position. Municipal representatives, arguing with the provincial government, are still hemming and hawing over the issue of snow tires on cars that regularly traverse 10 per cent inclines of ice in the urban core. (It’s good to know that at least one thing doesn’t change in the city of my adolescence: utter stupidity).

As for all you periodic “sun-wingers” from the Hub City, enjoy your bragging rights, and know that when you return home, lovely, dulcet “Spring” will be just around the corner, just behind the snow bank you weren’t here to shovel.

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