A Little Bit Western


Change is in the Air

Feb 3, 2015

Lately, I’ve found myself with a spring in my step, driving with the windows down and the radio up, and as the song says, letting the wind blow through my hair. The creek is running, the kids are happily making mud-pies and I keep expecting a meadowlark to belt out a tune at any moment.

It’s January.

Call me crazy, but something doesn’t seem right about this. Don’t get me wrong, I’m certainly not complaining about the warmer weather. I hate the snow and cold and bitter winds of winter as much as the next guy, but there has been something a bit unsettling about all of these record-setting warm temperatures. I can’t help but wonder if Mother Nature will issue some type of attitude adjustment in the future and apparently payback is a …. er, payback can be unkind.

One year ago, North America was embroiled in one Polar Vortex after another and I was incorporating long underwear into my wardrobe on a daily basis. Winter clothing was layered on carefully to protect against wind chill and frostbite and the kids could only be released from the confines of the house for the briefest period during the warmest part of the day. The last few years have shown that it’s been slightly hard to predict what will happen next weather-wise.

When I was a kid, it was cold and snowy in the winter time, and hot and (usually) dry in the summer, end of story. There were some severe droughts thrown in there, plus a couple brown Christmases. I remember one winter where I missed a lot of school due to too much snow, but overall, the weather was as to be expected. Fast forward to today and it seems there can be severe flooding in one part of the province, drought in another, summer in winter, and snow in summer.

Climate change is in the news almost daily. I can’t even pretend that I know a lot about climate and weather, but I know that they are not the same thing. Weather is a measure of conditions in the short term, whereas climate is the long-term average of weather. Some folks seem on the fence about whether climate change is a “thing” at all, but I think most would have to admit that at least in the short-term, there have been some extreme weather events. As we have more extreme weather events taking place over a longer period of time, these variations are going to impact our average long-term weather patterns.

As Canadians, we are a nation obsessed with weather. We joke about how there are just two seasons, Winter and Not Winter (or alternatively, Winter and Bug Season) and we can probably hum the tune of all five versions of the Weather Network soundtrack. Weather is important, it affects what we do, how we feel, and in the case of farmers and ranchers, it has a direct impact on our ability to do business.

When Mother Nature deals us a bizarre hand of topsy turvy weather, there isn’t a thing we can do about it. Hopefully we can adapt and be prepared for every situation, but that isn’t always possible. Usually if we are patient enough to wait ten minutes, the weather will change again, but not always. With all the uncertainty regarding weather, we can take comfort knowing that there is one thing that will always remain constant — the wind will keep blowing.

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