Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cold enough for ya ?

Since we're in the dog days of summer here in Middle TN, and since I spent the evening perusing three generations of Central Ontario weather records, I thought it'd be appropriate to share some boring cold weather stories with everyone !

Canadian farmers love to talk about winter weather, especially cold and snow. Once they got going, my grandfather, father and uncles could tell stories about cold weather and snow all day, each one better (and seemingly more implausible) than the last. Although the prevailing thought in that part of the world is that they don't get much winter (and compared to most of Canada, they don't), believe it when I say that winters are long, cold and severe compared to anywhere in the eastern United States that isn't immediately proximate to the Canadian border. Here's a a short collection of cold weather memories of my very own.

40 degrees below zero on Christmas morning 1980. Dad said it was so cold the reindeer froze so Santa had to hitchhike to our house in a school bus (!) and we walked to Christmas dinner at the village hall.

Frost on the pumpkin and more importantly, frost on all the immature corn and beans, 28F/-2 C August 28, 1986.

Was that snow in the air ? Yes, and all over the ground. About three inches of it, heavy and very wet. Sept 27, 1989.

Anyone from Buffalo or Western New York will remember the Blizzard of 1977. We got it in Ontario too; 4 feet of snow in 24 hours combined with winds gusting to 80 mph. The drifts really were over the telephone pictures to prove it and we were out of school for a week !

Frost on the pumpkin sprouts and snow in the air ? Sure, and while we're at it lets replant all the corn and beans too. 25 F/-4C June 9, 1983 and if you didn't like it that time we got to try it again three mornings in a row, each one colder than the one before June 3, 4 and 5, 1998. I lived in Southwestern Ontario at the time and I was delivering a load of feed to a dairy customer the evening before this frost event began. He and I got to witness the only tornado either of us had ever seen. We were three miles straight west of Norwich, Ontario and about a half mile south of the tornado which went on to destroy a lot of buildings in Norwich !

Can anyone say "ice" ? You could if you remember the Ice Storm of 1998 when we got freezing rain continuously for *six days* resulting in ice accumulations of as much as four inches across most of Ontario east of Toronto. Thankfully we were west of the worst hit areas, but we were still without power for a week.

Where did summer go ? In 1992 our weather records show that we never cracked 85 degrees at any time during the spring, summer or fall. Although it never officially reached 32F/0C, we recorded light frost on at least one day in each summer month, including June 22 and 25, July 30 and August 21 (see note below). We also had a stretch of weather for several days in late June where the high temperature never got out of the 40's....more typical of mid April than late June ! Our cold summer was followed by a heavy fall of October snow that stuck around a lot longer than it should have and flattened field after field of wet, immature soybeans. This set the stage nicely for a huge December blizzard which ushered in the most miserable winter I ever remember. [NOTE: Because official weather station temperature measurements are taken at a height of five feet above the ground and because cold air sinks, it's possible albeit somewhat unusual to have ground frost form any time the official temperature is below 3 C/37 F. ]

Okay, this post is long winded enough ! Feel free to add your own weather tales !


Anonymous said...

I remember 92 very well. took a week off school to go home and combine and move manure in late Nov. Could only combine corn at night when everything froze up well with the corn moisture around 40% when it thawed. Worst farm year of my generation to date I think.

Jason said...

Thanks to the Dec blizzard a lot of that wet corn got to sit out all winter, in some cases buried under snow for most of it in our part of the world. I remember you going weren't the only one!

Jason said...

Thanks to the Dec blizzard a lot of that wet corn got to sit out all winter, in some cases buried under snow for most of it in our part of the world. I remember you going weren't the only one!

Owd Fred said...

We are experiencing the driest summer since 1976; the pastures have turned brown, which is very unusual for us in UK. This year it has rained heavy in Scotland and northern England, they have also had rain in the south east and south west, but all the rain has split and missed us across the midlands.
No rain to speak of since February.
When a cloud comes over it does not drop the rain, other than a little damp drizzle, not enough to run off the roof. Ditches have not run since mid winter, hay is in short supply. But we have some peat meadows that are still green and growing.

On the whole we don’t have much to moan about in this country, after all in the midlands we are still only 270 feet above sea level.