Assertion, unsupported by fact, is nugatory. Surmise and general abuse, in however elegant language, ought not to pass for truth. Junius

2006/12/12

And Now for the Weather

We had winter for three days last week, vile cold windy days, that compelled me finally to haul out my bulky winter coat and coffee-stained scarf for the first time this season. Then there was glorious beautiful day Sunday that melted most of the snow, then wet and gloomy since, but mild. Pretty typical December weather, I thought to myself this morning as I cleared the last of the rotting ice from the big water barrels by the barn, at least I won't have to haul water from the house. Then I stopped myself, and asked: since when was real winter weather exceptional in the middle of December?

A disconcerting thought. I spent an eternity of a winter in England once upon a time about 20 years ago (don't ask) and the weather was similiar: a damp dark squib of a day would be followed by a damper, darker, squibier night. But if a southern Ontario winter is starting to resemble the English, in England the weather is looking decidely more southernish. All of Europe, in fact was subjected to bizarre weather last week which included a tornado (!) in London, and record warmth prompting roses to bloom in southern England, spring flowers on alpine ski runs, and short sleeves in Rome.

Another disconcerting thought. Real, Environment Canada-type meteorologists (as opposed to climatologists, another breed entirely), forecasting day to day, are usually loath to ascribe this or that weather phenomonon to global warming: it's hard to extrapolate a trend from one event. Instead they'll talk cautiously and a little ambiguously about the Icelandic low fluctuations or El Nino or the effect of chilly Siberian air masses hitting warm water. Getting a flat statement from a meteorologist connecting December rose pruning in Hampshire to climate change is like pulling teeth from a broody chicken. Thus it was a little unsettling hearing one meteorologist talk last week about the weather in Europe. When asked if the weather in Europe was attributable to global warming, the meteorologist replied without hesitation, "Oh yes, absolutely." And this isn't the first time this month I've heard meteorologists make explicit the connection.

Somehow, I liked it better freezing in a bitter December wind, trudging through snow with frozen toes and listening to meteorologists hedge their bets.

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