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Extreme weather could be here to stay – are you ready?

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The words ‘Polar Vortex’ have now become a regular part of our winter weather-related vocabulary, along with freezing drizzle, pellets or rain. Other words like whiteout, snow squall, frost quake, black ice and wind chill factor, slip off our tongues with ease. During the summer we now master the buzzwords: heatwave, hurricane, typhoon, tornado, heat lightning, ball lightning, microburst and humidex factor. Long and short range forecasts, low or high-pressure systems, it all comes down to two words – extreme weather. According to experts in this field, the instability of it all could be here to stay and the extreme weather patterns we have been experiencing will influence how we live, breathe and do things.

It has been predicted for some time by renowned scientists and climatologists around the globe, who have determined it is being caused by the actions of humans creating a ‘greenhouse effect’ on this planet and they put it under the ‘umbrella’ words of Climate Change. There are people who believe it is real and there are those who believe it is all nonsense and just the natural order of things where the earth is just experiencing the beginning of another ‘ice age’. The latter being good news, as it will take at least thousands of years to take a significant effect.

In the meantime, it has been so cold here that a rapid freeze along the St. Lawrence river between Trois-Rivières and Les Escoumins during the last week of January, held ten ships from moving on. They were effectively trapped at port as Canadian Coast Guard icebreakers worked hard to force open a channel through a massive ice jam. Eight ships were also held at the Port of Montreal.

Prairie provinces, Manitoba and Saskatchewan recorded the coldest temperatures in the country when they were hit with cold air from above the Arctic Circle last week. Winnipeg hit a low of -39.8C with a -52C wind chill. To put it into perspective, the North Pole reached around -32C. Siberia on the other hand, which has the coldest temperatures on this planet, reached temperatures hovering around -15C to -23C. However, Key Lake, Saskatchewan beat it all with a temperature reaching over -47C. While in Vancouver BC, temperatures last week were as high as +8C and never went below freezing except for one night when it reached -2C at night.

Environment Canada stats show that Montreal had nine days of rain since the beginning of January 2019, which is more than double the average amount. In a CTV News report, meteorologist Alexandre Parent said, “Temperatures are fluctuating remarkably for this time of year.” And then concerning the icy conditions that went with it he said, “This is consistent with climate change science: we will continue to experience more freezing/thawing events.” He further states that ‘governments will have to adapt as well – especially when it comes to urban planning’. “They have to make serious renovations, and in the structure they think more and more about how the weather is going to affect them… it’s the same thing as when we had heat events in the summer (we need) more green areas, less asphalt and black surfaces.” It seems that the extreme weather is likely here to stay. Are you ready to change your ways and adapt? Or will you simply continue along with nary a worry, seeing as you won’t be around as the next ice age takes hold of the planet?

By: Bonnie Wurst – info@mtltimes.ca

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