Sunday, November 13, 2011

Getting Ready For Winter

October was a weird month. It started out warmer than normal and only a few days were below normal. We had two thunderstorms. The first one had only a couple of mild thunder boomers and several streaks of lightening with only a bit of rain. The second one was a bit more intense and lasted a good half hour. Lots of lightening and precipitation that was somewhere between rain, hail and ice pellets. October thunder storms aren’t unheard of in these parts, they just aren’t the norm. Usually an October storm brings snow. Sometimes that snow stays all winter.

For the most part, the trees are bare and the leaves have been raked. Most people have finished up the last of the yard work and have their winter cleanup gear ready to go. The Halloween decorations are down and many have already started to put up outdoor Christmas lights and displays.

I’ve spent a good part of the last month or so getting ready for that inevitable arrival of snow and the, oh so fun, challenges of navigating city streets and sidewalks.

In mid October, a gal pal and I headed to Costco to pick up many of my pantry and non perishable supplies. I’ve been to Morden’s to pick up my chocolate for the Christmas baking. I’ve been to a couple other stores to do more of my winter “squirreling” so that my cupboards will be full for the coming months. The summer clothes have been moved to the back of the closet and the winter coats have replaced the lighter weight coats in the closet by the door. I bought new boots at the start of last winter and I bought a new winter coat this year. (There is a story in that coat but I’ll save it for when winter really gets going.)

It’s not that I want to do all that prep work for the changing seasons. Maybe I’ve taken it to a bit of an extreme, but for those of us with mobility issues or that don’t own a vehicle, it is just easier to get as much of the bulky, heavy or awkward stuff done before the snow flies.

On October 11, the Winnipeg Free Press published an article that had weather forecasters predicting an early and cold winter for us. Supposedly temps will be about 2 degrees cooler than normal with the coldest being in December and January. Most of our snow should be in January and February.

Um, pardon me but how exactly is that different than any other winter in Manitoba? Most years, it is cold by December and even colder in the early new year. Of course, we are going to get some snow accumulations in those months! Okay, that can vary but even I could have predicted that forecast!

On the plus side, they goofed about snow in October here. They predicted that we would have an accumulation of snow BEFORE Halloween! Well, thankfully they were wrong on that count – and hopefully they will be wrong on how cold it will be also.
As advanced as weather forecasting has become, it is still an educated guess. Accuracy can go out the window in a heartbeat. Frankly, I think they could just write the various predictions on a paper and throw them all in a hat. Might be just as accurate!

On October 29, much of the north-eastern US got hit by an early and very nasty winter storm. The leaves were still green on some trees and the weight of the snow, caused limbs to break and trees to fall on buildings, vehicles and power lines. Tens of thousands were without power for several days. In some areas, Halloween trick-or-treating was even postponed for several days so that crews could clean streets and remove fallen trees.

We, here in Winnipeg can understand how hard it is to cope with those early and unexpected dumping of white stuff. We’ve learned to expect the unexpected when it comes to weather. Driver’s carry winter survival kits in their vehicles along with shovels, scrapers and any number of other items they may need along the way. We’ve learned to take winter with a grain – make that a bag of salt to melt the ice. Many a relationship has been started over talk of the weather. And yes, it is a dry cold!

We are almost half way through November now and at least here in Winnipeg, we really haven’t seen much snow yet. Okay, there was that one morning in mid October that there was a light skiff of white stuff on the ground but it melted in a couple of hours so that doesn’t really count. Oh yeah, we had an inch of snow late last Sunday into Monday (November 6/7) but quite a bit of that has melted. The only real snow on the ground here in the city is the stuff on the north side of buildings or grassy areas that don’t get much direct sunlight. Only a few flakes here and there otherwise.

As far as I’m concerned, the cold snowy winter weather could hold off indefinitely but apparently Mother Nature isn’t interested in my winter wishes. Oh well, I guess I’m more or less ready – just don’t ask me to like it.

Back in the early 1970’s, a man by the name of Alden Diehl was working as the GM of CKY-TV and CITI-FM here. He penned a winter anthem for Winnipeg that was nominated for a JUNO. Almost forty years later, it still stands the test of time for anyone who has lived through a Manitoba winter. No matter what the winter weather may bring, at some point this winter we will be living this song!


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