Take heart! It will be warm again in July
“Perceptions,” by Gerry Warner
Yes, it’s cold out there, damn cold! But, believe it or not, this is not the coldest it’s ever been in Cranbrook. Far from it. And no, this arctic vortex we’ve been living in the past six weeks, doesn’t mean global warming has been reversed and we’re standing on the precipice of a new Ice Age.
But one thing at a time.
Officially, and I emphasize “officially,” the coldest temperature recorded at the airport by Environment Canada is minus 40 C on Dec. 30, 1968. So far this winter the coldest it’s been was minus 29 C on Jan. 4. That’s pretty damn cold, but far from the record. And it should be noted that weather records at the airport only go back to 1968 and it’s quite likely that Cranbrook has been colder than 40 below in the past, especially in the winter of 1949 – 50, generally considered the coldest in the province’s history.
However, one thing is for sure. This has got to be the longest cold snap in recent memory and most of us are just not used to sustained cold anymore. When you step outside and you feel the mucus freezing in your nose it kind of sets you back a bit. And the snow piles around the city are becoming a hazard to low flying birds, if not airplanes. Hats off to City plowing crews, who’ve been doing a yeoman’s job in trying circumstances.
But what about the global warming debate, which is still a “debate” in the minds of some people, if not the world’s scientists and weather experts? Doesn’t the brutal cold snap we’re experiencing now prove that global warming and climate change is a myth hatched by paranoid environmentalists, Greenpeace and the like?
Well, not exactly.
If pictures don’t lie satellite pictures taken by NASA in the summer of 2013 show a shocking sight, namely a camera buoy at the North Pole “swimming” in open water, which ordinarily would be frozen solid year-round at one of the coldest spots on earth. But these aren’t ordinary times! The camera buoy is actually anchored to the ice, but the icecap itself has been overwhelmed by open water drifting as far north as the North Pole because of unprecedented melting of the Arctic sea ice further south.
The summer of 2016 also saw the unprecedented journey of the cruise ship Crystal Serenity through an almost ice-free Northwest Passage with more than 1,000 high-paying passengers and 600 crew aboard. This is the same Northwest Passage that’s been plugged by ice for centuries and taken the lives of hundreds who dared to try to sail through it only to be stopped by cruel ice floes and trapped in solid ice like the much mythologized and tragic Franklin Expedition in 1845.
So take heart as you head out to your vehicle in the frigid morning air hoping that the block heater is working and old Betsy will still start and take you to work where you can sit in a drafty office all day and day dream about that Caribbean vacation you’re not taking. And keep in mind that the weatherman is forecasting above freezing temperatures next week.
Maybe come the dog days of summer in July when the temperature climbs into the high 30’s you can book a ride on a deluxe Arctic cruise ship sailing the Northwest Passage so you can escape the torrid heat of a Cranbrook summer. By then, those bone-chilling mornings in January will just be a distant memory as you order another frosted margarita.
And don’t think of the rest of us back here snuggling up to our air conditioners or trying to cool off at the lake because we all know it may get hot in Cranbrook in August, but it’s a dry heat.
Gerry Warner is a retired journalist, who has no desire to go to the North Pole, wet or dry.