Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Snowfalls from the Past

While I was walking with my girlfriend today, I couldn’t help but talk about how high the snow banks were.

We had another major blast of winter yesterday – getting 15cm of snow in total. We’ve had a number of big snow storms recently, so much so, it appears as if we’re having a major snow storm a week.

My comment to my girlfriend speaks to just how much snow we’ve had this winter – so far. I said: “I haven’t seen snow banks that high since I was a kid, and we were up at the cottage.”

I remember when I was a kid, we’d sometimes go up north to the family cottage. Up in cottage country, where the ski hills are, they tend to get a lot of snow every winter. So much snow in fact, that many have to go up on their roofs to shovel it off so they don’t have a cave in.

Up in cottage country, getting snow squalls off the lake is a common cause for the major snow storms. The wicked winter weather we’re having here is due to the increase in the earth’s temperatures – global warming.

Because the world is warmer, more moist air is being picked up by the clouds. This moist air gets carried away by the clouds, which turns to ice and snow as the clouds move over cooler landmasses. Once the ice and snow are too heavy for the clouds to contain, it all comes back down to us. Though all that moist air has done other things too – mainly fuelling the storm cells.

Moist air is energy to a storm cell. Hurricanes typically start off as tropical storms, but only turn into violent and deadly storms once they travel over a warm body of water.

So, not only are we getting clouds with more “stuff” in them, we’re getting more active weather patterns. These highly active weather patterns mean the snow falls are heavier, the winds are stronger, and occasionally we get other things typical of strong storms.

Just last week we had rare winter lightening with the snow and wind storm. At least, this winter the winter lightening is rare, with global warming, that too may be a more common affair.

Winter lightening is just what it sounds like – it is lightening during the winter. We usually only get lightening during summer storms, but last week, there were quite a few bright bolts screaming through the sky.

I don’t mind snow, I actually think freshly fallen snow is pretty. But the consequences of all this snow down the road are going to be disastrous. When it melts, we’re in for a major flooding. Streets and sidewalks will be mini-rivers and streams, basements will become indoor cess pools, water mains will burst under the added strain and pressure.

Good thing I live way up in a high-rise. But even I have to go out and will have to splash my way through it to get to where I am going.

All this water could be a problem for food crops too. Farmers often complain that there isn’t enough snow in the winter, to keep the water tables at a high enough level during the dry summer growing season.

But too much water can wash away the good growing soil (which is lighter) leaving in it’s place, the heavier clays and other dirt and rocks which you just can’t grow good things in.

Farmers can always purchase good growing soil, but that’s a cost that will come back to haunt us at the grocery store.

Maybe it’s just that I’m a typical Canadian – never happy with the weather?

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