Wishing for Weather – I Said Rain – not Snow!

Towards the end of our stay in Arizona, I saw a TV commercial that made me long for a rainy day. An off road vehicle was driving up a winding mountain road. A light rain was falling. I remembered how fresh the air could feel and how wonderful the forest could smell after a rain!  In contrast, Phoenix Arizona was dry desert heat that could possibly fry an egg on the hood of the neighbour’s car.

gnarled trees blue sky

A few days later, we were on our way back to Alberta. Our first stop was the Grand Canyon. We arrived late in the afternoon, and spent several hours walking along the rim taking pictures.

storm clouds

Dark clouds to both the east and west hinted that a storm was brewing. My rainy day was very near!

I woke the next morning (my birthday) to a steady drizzle. I marveled that The Car Guy was able to deliver such a great present on my birthday. As we drove back to the Grand Canyon, I got whiffs of fresh air and fragrant forest.

We parked the car, put on rain coats, and walked quickly over to the rim.  Surprise! The Canyon was, for all intents and purposes, gone… I was really glad I had got my vista pictures the previous day.

snow blizzard

There was no reason to stay at the Canyon, so we drove east along the rim road. The rain turned to snow. As we dropped in elevation, the snow became rain. Eventually the rain stopped for a while – then we drove through a heavy hail storm. Apparently my birthday present was a gift of all the weather I had NOT had in Arizona for several months!

snow pink flower

The QuipperyDays later in Alberta, we were greeted with an early blooming season thanks to a warm, dry spring. I threw caution to the wind, and did a rain dance…  We got snow.

A rainy day – do you carry an umbrella? Do you put up the hood of your rain jacket? Do you just get wet, because, after all, rain won’t make you melt into the puddle.

‘Unseasonable’ Weather, Climate Change and Forest Fires

What causes ‘unseasonable’ weather? According to this report in ‘the guardian’, unseasonably warm weather is an indication of climate change:

April 28, 2016, Australia – “Unseasonably warm weather a clear sign of climate change, say scientists.”

But what causes unseasonably cold weather – like this snow in the UK?

April 26, 2016, Britain – “Snow stops play at cricket matches in the south as Britain suffers unseasonable late April cold snap.” – The Telegraph –

‘The Telegraph’ did not attribute this colder weather to Climate Change (which generally means Global Warming and refers to warmth, droughts, fire, floods, melting, etc.) Instead, The Telegraph offered this tongue-in-cheek explanation:

Some (twitters) suggested the arctic conditions were a gift from the late popstar Prince, alluding to the lyrics of his song ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’.

Are you as tired of the term ‘Climate Change’ as I am? I blame the media for that. Weather (which is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere in a region and its short-term -minutes to weeks- variations) is being reported like it is our Climate. Climate is the statistical weather information that describes the variation of weather at a given place for a specified interval (usually 30 years or more.)

‘Climate change’, a concept that should have remained in the hands of scientists and been vigorously researched and debated, has moved out of the realm of research and into the political arena. The cheerleaders of alarm – the media – consistently argue that unseasonably warm weather is the harbinger of climate change.

If ‘Climate Change’ really was about science, then scientists would all be working together and learning from one another. There would be a wealth of research from a diverse number of individuals and groups who didn’t try to mold their results to fit a believer, skeptic or denier position. The ‘Good Guys’ would not be on the payroll of ‘Big Government’, while the ‘Bad Guys’ were funded by ‘Big Oil’. The public would not be bombarded with fear mongering weather stories masquerading as apocalyptic climate change.
– Margy –

Perhaps you’ve been following the story of the Fort McMurray Fire here in Alberta. Many journalists jumped on the Climate Change bandwagon, though a few paused to consider whether the timing was good. More than 80,000 people, many of them employed by the Oil Industry, have been evacuated and are temporarily homeless.

The rush to draw the connection between the Fort Mac fires and climate change could come across as blaming, Pike said, adding “I really personally question the timing and how best to have that conversation”.
– Cara Pike, climate communications expert with Climate Access, National Observer, May 12, 2016 –

Other reporters looked beyond the unseasonably warm, dry spring in Alberta to ask – what else is happening to Alberta’s forests?

I have been repeatedly asked: “what does it hurt to say that the fire was caused by climate change?”… As a pragmatist I recognize that we live in a world where our governments have finite budgets and need to allocate resources wisely; to do that they need good information. Bad information makes for bad decisions, and attributing the forest fire to climate change would mean advancing bad information over good.
– Blair King, HuffPost Alberta, May 10, 2016 –

Mr. King’s article points out that the larger concern in Alberta is that Wildfire suppression programs have been successful! Now we have large swaths of mature forests that present new problems:

Before major wildfire suppression programs, boreal forests historically burned on an average cycle ranging from 50 to 200 years as a result of lightning and human-caused wildfires. Wildfire suppression has significantly reduced the area burned in Alberta’s boreal forests. However, due to reduced wildfire activity, forests of Alberta are aging, which ultimately changes ecosystems and is beginning to increase the risk of large and potentially costly catastrophic wildfires.
– Flat Top Complex Wildfire Review Committee Report, May 2012 –

While it is important to recognize that Alberta’s climate may become warmer, the more critical issue is how Alberta will manage aging forests.

Canadian forest fire management agencies have, for several decades, been gradually moving away from their traditional fire exclusion policies that were based on the assumption that all fire is bad and that it was to be excluded from the forest at almost any cost – and towards the development and implementation of enlightened fire management policies. These call for achieving an appropriate balance between reducing the detrimental impact of fire on people, property and resources and letting fire play a more natural role when and where it is appropriate for it to do so.
– David Martell, professor in the Faculty of Forestry and Fire Management Systems Laboratory, UofT News, May 6, 2016 –

As wildfires increase in severity, Smokey the Bear’s legacy makes it harder for the public to get behind controlled burns. Maybe it’s time for Smokey to advocate the need for smart forest fires.

In the past 30 to 40 years, how has the climate changed where you live? Has it made your life better or worse?