From Shaman’s Rock
By Jim Poling Sr.
This summer’s weather has in no way been traditional, and neither was the spring that led into it. Heat and drought brought record wildfires in parts of the country, tropical-like storms brought flooding in other parts.
Our part of Ontario has escaped the worst of this year’s untraditional weather. Bouts of unusual heat gave us forest fire concerns but no seriously dangerous outbreaks. Plenty of heavy rainfall, but generally only minor washout damage.
Some early forecasts for the coming fall and winter talk about a return to traditional Canadian weather. I take that to mean a cool but drier fall, fewer brutal windy, wet storms followed by a cold, snowy winter.
Simply put, a return to shivering and shovelling after slogging through a couple of mild winters when folks kept umbrellas next to shovels at the back door.
“The Brrr is back,” says the Farmers’ Almanac in its 2024 winter forecast. Canadians can “get ready to enjoy hot chocolate by the fireside, skiing, ice skating and all things winter!”
Sounds yummy to me!
The Farmers’ Almanac claims 80 to 85 per cent accuracy based on its secret weather prediction formula created back in 1792, but a variety of opinions backed by studies dispute that. One University of Illinois study says the Almanac’s accuracy rate is 52 per – simply random chance.
Much of the professional forecasting today seems to be focussed on the Niños, those Pacific Ocean weather makers.
La Niña is a cold event in which cold Pacific waters push the jet stream north, creating colder weather. El Niño is the opposite. The Pacific jet stream moves south of its neutral position, causing warmer drier conditions in Canada, notably the West.
The Pacific now is experiencing a strengthening El Niño, which is supposed to bring us a warmer, wetter winter as opposed to the colder, snowier one forecast by the Almanac.
However, global warming and climate change are making weather even more difficult to predict. And, storms seem to becoming more frequent and more violent.
The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported two million people killed by extreme weather in the past 50 years. Plus, economic damage from storms, floods and wildfires has soared by a factor of eight since 1970 to $4.3 trillion U.S. dollars.
Today’s weather disasters are not confined to the places we expect them to occur. Dozens died recently in floods and landslides in India and 400 perished this spring during flooding in the tropical Congo, followed by another 100 in Rwanda floods.
These days, however, we see people dying in record Canadian wildfires, and more than 100 burned to death on the vacation paradise of Hawaii’s Maui Island.
More than 60,000 people died as the result of extreme heat last summer in Europe. They are still counting how many have been killed by this year’s extreme weather.
Hopefully the Farmers’ Almanac is right about the coming months. A bit better than 52 per cent right.
The next two weeks look fairly good for Haliburton County. Official forecasts show plenty of sunshine, daytime temperatures in the mid-20s Celsius, some showers and no morning lows below freezing.
September is almost always pleasant with a gradual and soft change of season. Ditto October, which is basically a dry month with an average of only seven days rain.
Then comes November when we can start waxing the skis and sharpening the skate blades. Depending on whose forecast you believe.
Ruchir Sharma, the international investment guru and author, reminds us about how forecasting works these days:
“The old rule of forecasting was to make as many forecasts as possible and publicise the ones you got right. The new rule is to forecast so far in the future, no one will know you got it wrong.”
No matter whose weather forecast you follow, or whose you believe, one person has the final say on the weather, and that’s Mother Nature.
She loves to remind us that she has the last word – especially when she is angry. And, she certainly has not been in a good mood recently in much of the world.