What a %#@*?^ winter!

Friday's Photo of the Day tells the story--Squirrel huddles with a frozen acorn in the lee of an oak tree during 35-mph winds at the height of the storm yesterday. Photo: Alice Connors, Cumberland Head, NY

Friday’s Photo of the Day tells the story: Squirrel huddles with a frozen acorn in the lee of an oak tree during 35-mph winds at the height of the storm yesterday. Photo: Alice Connors, Cumberland Head, NY

Winter seemingly came early this time around. It stayed late and it sure hit hard.

With apologies, perhaps that was our fault. You see, the spouse and I enjoy cross country skiing. Every year we earnestly pray for snow. Hey! Success!

As one equally-happy outdoor enthusiast gushed on a cross country ski discussion board for Ottawa “This is the winter that keeps on giving!” I would feel like a ski widow except that I’m often out there too. A wonderful season, if you ski.

But I gather others are (shall we say?) less enthused. Take this feature story from Maclean’s Magazine, by Michael Friscolanti and Kate Lunau, which doesn’t mince words: “The winter that ruined everything“. The article is sub-headed: “It broke records, wreaked havoc on the roads and kneecapped the economy. It also showed us how ill-prepared Canada is for a future of extreme weather”. It has a laundry list of ways people have suffered, with some stats to show why:

On March 1, Regina broke a 130-year-old record for that day’s temperarture: -36° C, with a wind chill of -53° C. In Kenora, Ont., where all-time winter lows have wreaked havoc on its maze of underground pipes, the city is in the midst of a two-week boil-water advisory.

In Toronto, where the mercury also nosedived to the lowest point in two decades, the city surpassed its record for consecutive days with at least one centimetre of snow on the ground: 89, as of March 7, and counting. No town, though, amassed more white stuff than Stephenville, N.L. (population 7,800). The winter isn’t even over, and the seaside community has already been hammered with more than two metres (the same height, for the record, as Michael Jordan.) “In December, it snowed 26 days,” says Mayor Tom O’Brien. “The snow kept coming and coming. It wasn’t one big wallop.”

But so what, it’s just one bad year, right? More like the way things used to be. Well, maybe, maybe not. And that’s the point, according to the Maclean’s story:

“Municipalities, which means taxpayers, will struggle to deal with the liability generated from the extreme winter we’ve experienced,” says Jason Thistlethwaite, director of the University of Waterloo’s Climate Change Adaptation Project. “I’ve been reading too much of: ‘Well, the winter weather is an anomalous disruption in the recovery of the economy.’ No. This is a new normal. This is a new cost that needs to be incorporated into budget forecasts. You can’t call something an anomaly when it’s part of a larger pattern.”

Speaking of deep cold and higher costs, NCPR has already reported on the scarcity and expense of propane fuel this past winter, as with this story by Zach Hirsch. Friday morning Ontario consumers read that one of the province’s biggest natural gas companies is applying for a 40% rate hike, which will likely be requested by other suppliers as well. According to CBC news:

Enbridge applied to Ontario regulators for the price increase in the energy rates it charges millions of natural gas customers in the province.

The increase needs to be reviewed by the Ontario Energy Board before being implemented on April 1.

Enbridge spokesman Chris Meyer said this is all because storage pools of cheap gas have been depleted by this year’s extremely cold winter weather.

“Because the winter has gone on so long that lower price natural gas has been largely used up,” Meyer said.

OK, too much gloom. We need some hope here, people. Luckily, good old Rick Mercer knows where to find that. Here’s how Environment Canada’s 7-day weather forecast comes to the rescue.

Want more ways to smile instead of curse? Here’s a plea from a Colorado TV station to cut-it-out-with-the-photos-of-snow-covered-lawn-chairs-already! (Thanks to Nora Flaherty for sharing this on NCPR’s Facebook page, right after she shared photos of you-guessed-it.)

Yes, O winter of discontent. This too shall pass. We will thaw out – probably about 7 days from now.

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7 Comments on “What a %#@*?^ winter!”

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  1. Michael Greer says:

    So let me get this right. We’re fracking and pumping at the highest rare we’ve ever seen. The news stories tell of a “gas glut”, and plans are being made to sell the gas on the world market. There’s even talk of using natural gas as a lever against the Russians. It all sounds pretty promising…like we’ve finally made the big time…pretty soon it’ll be like Qatar around here; jobs and money and skyscrapers for everyone.
    But no. The gas company wants a 40% rate hike. This after we’ve already paid for 40% more gas than usual. It’s time to nationalize the gas and oil deposits, before the companies burn it all.

  2. Hank says:

    Love that Rick Mercer clip!

  3. Pete Klein says:

    We had and are still having winter. It comes every year. Soon it will be spring, then summer and fall, then winter again.

  4. bewildered consumer says:

    how about the double in price of the electric bills this month from last month. they are blaming that on natural gas prices?

  5. Two Cents says:

    “they’re rrrrrrrrrrrrrrripping us off!! ”
    cosmo kramer

  6. Ken Hall says:

    Is not the rule of thumb for prices of “stuff” per the vaunted capitalist economic system “when stuff is plentiful prices go down, when stuff is scarce prices go up”? What does that tell Americans about the actual quantities of “producible” natural gas, via fracturing the Earth’s crust 1000s of feet below the surface, when one relatively cold Winter can effectively double the cost of heating and lighting homes?

    Yes “they” are ripping us off by pandering to our desires to live as we believe we “always” have and consume the Earth’s 100’s of millions of years worth of sequestered hydrocarbon energy in a virtual snap of the fingers, time wise. The only reason there are 7+Billion humans ravaging the Earth, as we speak, is because we discovered how to convert that sequestered energy into food and stuff. In as much as we are too stupid, in the main, to recognize the the Earth is not an infinite source we are hell bent on becoming one of the shortest lived species to ever inhabit the Earth. The real unfortunate outcome of our demise is the vast numbers of species we are extinguishing prior to our exit.

  7. Two Cents says:

    I agree ken,
    may I comment- the earth is infinite, but at a much slower pace than we are willing to live.
    the earth can absorb the shock of everything we give it if it originated by a system that the earth’s system naturally produces.
    carbon monoxide gets produced. the earth has trees that suck it up and give us oxygen in return.
    we remove or alter any part of the process and we F@#% ourselves in the long run.
    this probably includes fracking, irrigating deserts, producing solar panels, building “green” homes… you name it.
    bottom line for me is too many fleas on the dog. and the fleas in control are ass%@&%$.
    this includes me everytime I go to the coop and steal eggs from what were mighty dinosaurs, who now run around like everything out there is going to fall on their heads, again.
    if we don’t slow down voluntarily the earth will make us do it eventually.

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