The picture you see above was taken this morning on the
West side of Chicken Delight and Subway. The camera was held at eye
level. Though you might think I am am pointing out the obvious, that things are
piling up a bit, that isn't really the story. If you look carefully, you will notice
that the pile of snow, is itself covered with fresh snow and that is the story.
The drought that has been with us here in Western Canada for the past four years,
and perhaps more, was predicted by the climatologists to continue into the coming
year. The Pacific Ocean's condition is responsible for the much of the world's climate
as it is the largest body of water and what happens out there on its surface and
in its depths, determines what happens to the air above.
The predictions of this year were that we should expect weather similar to the past
two years, with a cool to cold fall, dry mild winter, cool to cold prolonged spring
with little precipitation and a short hot summer. What looks like we are getting,
is a winter similar to last yea,r only a notch or two moderated. The fall was not
so long as the year before and definitely not as dry, the winter has been warmer
than average, but cooler than last winter.
But its in and on the ground the most profound change has taken place. Last winter
the surface and subsoil did not freeze. There was so little moisture in the soil
that the ground remained as powder until late summer. This winter, after the recent
cold spell, the frost has descended now well past three feet. The point being, that
there is moisture in the soil to freeze and that is a marked difference from the
This brings me to the point about the snow. It takes a lot of snow to add up to
much moisture, about ten inches to make the equivalent of an inch of rain. The two
things do not exactly equate, because of the behaviour of frozen water and what happens
to it when spring comes, is substantially different to the direct infusion of moisture
into the ground during spring, summer and fall, by even small amounts of rain.
What we have been seeing this week is definitely significant, late January and early
February according to the patterns of past years have been ultra dry. But we are
getting small, very small amounts of snow fall almost every single day. We have
settled into a pattern of overcast skies arriving during the early morning, long
before dawn, staying clouding until noon, then clearing off, but each day just a
bit of snow falls.
Volume is relative, not to single large amounts of precipitation, but to continuous
We are by far, a long way out of the threat of another dust bowl situation, but there
is reason for hope. Farmers are feeling good about the situation, the machinery
dealers can sense the mood changing and the bankrupt Pool Elevator company
has been given a brief reprieve from its ultimate collapse. All of those things
look like signs to me.
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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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