Strange Weather Patterns

        We have had a couple of recent e-mail communications from our son who has been living in Kansas for the past ten or twelve years. He tells us that they have just had a truly white Christmas and that they have had more snow already this winter than they usually do for the entire season.

        The temperature in Miami the other ranged from a high of 16 to a low of 5 - and while that seems pretty benign to us, Miami is in a semi-tropical weather zone, where the temperature rarely drops below 20 (unlike central and northern Florida which has some frost on an almost annual basis). There is snow in Spain (even on the Plain, I gather) and people are once again skating on the canals in Holland. England and Scotland are having their hardest winter in years and the snow has been heavy enough across Germany to cancel hundreds of air flights and cause even more travelling chaos than have the most recent anti-terrorism measures. (Is it possible that this is the latest and most insidious Al-Queda strategy of them all?)

        Even most areas of New Brunswick have had heavy snowfalls on several occasions already this winter, and both Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island have had their troubles with the weather.

        All the while, we in the often called "frozen north" have experienced a December very unlike any I can recall in my more than forty years here. Oh, yes, I can remember early winters with little snow, but not with such consistently mild temperatures. As I write, the temperature outside my window is -14 (this at shortly after 10 PM); last night the temperature dropped to about that level - and that was the coldest night of the season to date. Yes, cold enough, but nothing like the -20's that are commonplace around here even in December. One year ago, the river in front of home was frozen over by Christmas - this morning there was no ice visible anywhere I could see and I was told that one had to go up past Atholville to find ice anywhere in the river. (Mind you, there is a nice stretch of it in our driveway, but that is another story entirely.)

        It was, as I recall, about three winters past that smelt fishermen were only able to fish the main channel for about three weeks in February; I am beginning to think that they may not be able to get out there at all this winter. It is the first time that I can remember that the shanties in Dalhousie had to be pulled off the ice in early January, and that no one - at least so far as I know of - has even ventured to put out anything at Shaw's Cove or up by MacLeod's.

        In all, it has been an exceedingly strange season thus far. It isn't that it has been unpleasant: As a Biathlon coach, I was relieved that we had enough of the white stuff to have been able to hold our scheduled New Brunswick championships this past weekend; and getting around in the woods without snowshoes or skis is something of a rare experience. Still, it just doesn't seem natural, especially with so much harsh weather practically everywhere else. What to make of it? Who knows? Perhaps, by the time you read this, we will be shovelling our way out of the aftermath of a blizzard and the possibility of the "winter that wasn't" will have disappeared in a swirl of blinding snow.


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