Weather around here has been distinctly unseasonable. Well into December, today brought a fine rain and a temperature of +8 C (about 46 F). The average December high temperature is +2 C, and we get snow flurries, although snow usually doesn’t stay on the ground until the end of the month. It has felt strange doing holiday shopping in the rain these past few weeks. You’d think I was in England!
Environment Canada says my city has a 45% chance of a white Christmas. When I was growing up, that figure was 65%. Furthermore, we used to get about 10 cm of snow at Christmas, and now we only get about 3 cm. You can check your chances of a white Christmas in 39 Canadian cities here.
I started thinking about how conditioned I am, by either prior experience or by the media, to expect seasonal weather. Yet, with climate change, there will be a “new normal” and we’ll have to give up our expectations. It’s already underway.
Snow for Christmas used to be a reality here but now it’s more of a media fantasy. We don’t stop to think that our chances of having a white New Year’s Day or a white Valentine’s Day are much closer to 100%!
Kids here have a week off school in March (March Break) and that used to be spent skiing, skating and sledding. Last year, we had a few days of temperatures in the 20s (70s F) at the end of March! We all mocked anyone who booked a winter vacation “down south.” (The most popular winter tourist destinations from here are Florida, Cuba, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic.)
When I was young, we wished we could have outdoor Easter egg hunts in April, like we saw on TV, but it wasn’t Spring yet – we’d have snow several weeks into April. I remember my dad and me taking our new canoe out into clear water on Easter Sunday, only to get caught in broken-up ice at the end of the lake!
American TV would show full summer sun at May and June graduations and weddings, when we were getting two months of cool temperatures and torrential rains. I can’t even count the number of times our Canada Day fireworks have been postponed because fog rolled in over the harbour. Our summer is July and August – at best!
The only season that goes “by the book” here is the Fall. In September, we have warm days and cool nights. We have gorgeous foliage, apples, pumpkins, and crisp nights in October. Then we have a two-month respite until we can expect real snow on the ground around New Year’s.
I feel certain that the weather will be completely screwed up from now on, and our nostalgia will continue to grow. Just as we laugh at our grandparents’ tales of walking through waist-deep snow to get to school (uphill both ways), soon our kids and grandkids will roll their eyes when we tell them how we waited for snow on Christmas Eve.
Sad, isn’t it?