/What’s up with the weather

What’s up with the weather

By Jim Poling Sr.
From Shaman’s Rock

It’s February! Time for happy dancing and thumbing noses at the month just expired.

January was wretched. A coronavirus that would not go away. Threats of war between the U.S. and Russia. Continuing ethnic cleansings and other human tragedies in places like Afghanistan.

Then there was the bizarre weather. Unprecedented winter storms, including tornadoes, in parts of the world. Midwinter forest fires in California and Siberia.

There were no forest fires here at home. Just cold and snow. Brutal Arctic-style cold. 

It was the coldest January in recent memory. 

The average high temperature for the month was a chilly minus 6.3. The average low was minus 22.2. The normal January daily high for the Haliburton area is minus 3.8, and the normal low minus 15.9.

Twenty of this past January’s 31 days saw lows of minus 20 or colder. On seven of those days county thermometers dived below minus 30. On the morning of January 21 furnaces and wood stoves worked overtime against a low of minus 38.

All those temperatures were recorded by an Environment Canada co-operating private site at Haliburton Village.

The cold seemed to keep heavy snowfalls away. There were no large snowstorms in January and when the month ended there were only 36 centimetres (14 inches) on the ground in most places.

There was no January thaw this year. Usually we see one – a day or two above freezing – in the last half of January.

All this was much different from January last year. The average daytime high temperature in January 2021 was minus 2.7 and the average low for the month minus 12.3 – much warmer than the month just passed.

And in January 2021 there were no days minus 30 or colder and only seven of 30 days in which the thermometer fell to minus 20 or a bit lower. The coldest day in January 2021 was minus 28.

But all that is history. The main interest now is what weather we can expect in coming weeks, and whether we will be treated to an early spring.

Things aren’t looking good so far. January’s cold continued into early February with signs of some slight warming this week. Most of the morning lows in the first week were in the minus 20 range.

A variety of weather sources are predicting day and night temperatures below freezing for the first three weeks of the month. Nighttime lows are forecast to be in the minus double digits for much of the month.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac forecasts more cold followed by snow storms – some of them heavy – for later in the month. That almanac has been around for 230 years and claims an 80 per cent accuracy rate for its weather predictions. 

Some people question that percentage, but the almanac was accurate in its forecast for this winter. It predicted the winter of 2021 – 2022 would be “a season of shivers.”

“This coming winter could well be one of the longest and coldest that we’ve seen in years,” the publication’s editor Janice Stillman said last fall.

At any rate, none of the forecasters are predicting spring-like weather for the rest of February. They seem to agree that the first three weeks of this month will see constant below freezing weather, plus snowfalls pretty much every day.

The better news is that most forecasts predict settled, warmer weather in late February and early March. Long-range forecasts for spring and summer see warmer weather with above normal rainfall.

Who knows? Someone once said the most accurate weather forecast is obtained by looking out the window.

And, whatever we get, we get. Despite all our advances in science there is nothing we can do to change the weather, at least in the short term. We can, however, start living in ways that reduce global warming and climate change.

Besides, there really is no bad weather. Sunshine is great, Snow can be pretty and provide fun. Rain is refreshing and wind can be bracing. 

Or, as Alfred Wainwright, the famous British walker and author, wrote in one of his books:

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”