Editorial: That’s some cold weather

Trent Ernst


There’s an XKCD comic that sums up the whole climate change thing quite nicely. Two guys (well, two stick figures; this is XKCD after all, it’s tough to tell what gender they are) are walking outside. One says to the other “It is BRUTAL out. So much for global warming, huh?”

The other guy, er, girl, er, stick figure sighs and says “This used to happen all the time.”

“What?” asks the first.

“You’re from St. Louis, right?” says the second. “On average, it used to get below 0 a handful of days per year. But you haven’t had a day like that since the nineties. Then in 2014, when the first Polar Vortex hit, it dipped below zero for two days. And everyone freaked out. Because what used to be normal now feels too cold.”

“It is too cold.”

Which brings us to last week, when the weather got down to a blisteringly cold -40. That’s centigrade, people, not your scabby Fahrenheit that you have down in the States, though at those tempuratures, it doesn’t really matter.

According to the Climate Data Almanac from Environment Canada, the average temperature for February is -13.9 C.

Which is pretty cold.

But the thing is, this is Tumbler Ridge. Where it frequently snows in May and has occasionally snowed Grizfest weekend.

We should be used to cold.

I remember winters where, when, as I drove to work in the morning, the tires thumped, because the side that had been on the ground overnight had frozen flat. And we’re going to have days like that again.

But here’s the thing. As I’m writing this, I’m looking at the forecast for Saskatchewan, and with Wind Chill, it is expected to be the equivilant of -67 in Regina.

Want to think about that for a second? -67. That’s not even stay inside weather. That’s go to Hawaii for a month weather.

And I think how fortunate we’ve been here in Tumbler Ridge to have only seen the backside of -20 a few times this winter, and rarely for more than a few days in a row. I remember when it used to get down to -30 for months at a time.

(Haha, yes, I had to walk uphill both ways to school. Very funny. Now get off my lawn, punk.)

But since we’ve brought up the topic, I’ll say that the discomfort of walking to work at -20 last week was made up for by the absolutely perfect weather in the afternoons.

A couple of days ago, the thermometer struggled past the forecasted -8, and into the positives for the first time in a couple of months. As I walked home, with the sun warming my face, I was reminded once again how one needs to take advantage of these small moments in winter. That even when it’s -30, the sun still has power.

This point was brought home over the weekend. I went out to the Core Lodge to photograph the Ridge Rider’s Poker Rally.

Of course, the cold weather meant that the Poker Rally itself wasn’t happening, though most of the volunteers who showed up and the handful of participants who braved the cold went out for a fun ride.

But even though it was quite possibly the coldest day of the year, by 1 in the afternoon, the snow that had gathered on the bumper of my vehicle was melting in the sun. The wind on my face was cold enough to freeze my flesh solid, but, taking shelter in the lee of my Xterra, it was like a perfect spring day.

Basically my point here is this: spring is coming, but even if we have another blast of arctic air between now and April, take the time to get outside while it’s nice. Find a sheltered south facing corner, and just stand there for a few minutes and remember that, despite the appearance to the contrary sometimes, there’s more to life than winter.