It’s not you, it’s the yo-yo style weather
Freeze-thaw days and mild temps? You can’t tell if winter is coming or going
Really, is this what winter has come to?
The once reliably beastly season now as fleeting and fickle as the here-today-gone-tomorrow digital age we surf in?
Yes, it’s cold and snowy again. For a little while.
Dave Phillips, Environment Canada guru, please explain this yo-yo winter and tell us what the dartboard — er, long-range forecast — says.
“I think the perception is correct that it has been quite variable, almost as if winter has not got a foothold,” he said.
Despite winter’s little kick in our shins on the weekend, the numbers back him. It’s been a mild one. Typically, between Nov. 1 and Jan. 10, the Hamilton area would have 30 “freeze-thaw” days, where the temperature drops below freezing and rises into plus-territory in a 24-hour period.
This winter, says the senior climatologist, there have been 47 freeze-thaw days during that stretch, which is why you can’t tell if winter is coming or going.
There have been only 11 days with freezing temperatures around the clock. Normally, there’d be double that by now.
Also, so far the coldest moment has been Nov. 22, when the temperature dropped to -15 C, but by this time last year there had been 14 days colder than that.
And the area has had less than 30 centimetres of snow, about half of what is normal.
This, even though it seemed like our hot summer would be a prelude to a nasty winter.
Phillips says the reason for the tepid season has been southerly air that keeps being pushed north: “The phrase polar-vortex has not been uttered yet.”
Does anyone lament it? “I don’t think many are complaining; maybe skiers, ice fishers.”
A few icewine makers have reportedly expressed concern about the growing conditions, although at least one of them, John Kocsis, of Atlantis Niagara Wines in Beamsville, says it’s what he expects.
“Truthfully, swings in temperature create better quality icewine. Freezes and thaws get rid of excess water in the berry, the flavours become much more concentrated.”
As for the rest of the season, Phillips suggests that old man winter might still show his blushing face.
He says the dead of winter, the point at which we reach the coldest moment, is typically around Jan. 23. “At that point we can say more winter is behind us than in front of us.”
His model for the rest of winter? “Either warmer than normal, or uncertain.”
Recall the wisdom of comedian George Carlin, in his role as Al Sleet the Hippy Dippy Weatherman, in 1966: “Weather tonight: Dark. Turning light by morning.”
Judy Pierce does double duty as she tries to clear snow in front of her Strathcona Avenue apartment building while holding onto puppy Bentley Cooper.