The saying goes if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. I wrote a few posts ago how I truly love living in a city where there are four distinct seasons, but every year seems so far from how, as a kid, we learned those four seasons were defined. Calgary is a city of extremes as temperatures have ranged from a record low in 1893 of −45 °C (−49 °F) to a record high of 36 °C (97 °F) in 1919. Calgary is among the sunniest cities in Canada, with 2,400 hours of annual sunshine on average and in between all that sun is a mixture of rain, hail, wind, snow and fog. We rarely see just the normal definition of the weather phenomenons in Calgary. We don’t receive gentle spring rains; we witness severe thunder and lightning storms often with hail, followed by a good flood every few years. We don’t just have gentle breezes; we get “Chinooks” which bring warm winds in the middle of those -30 °C winter days which can warm us up to 0°C within a few hours. Winter is not always a beautiful, serene white wonderland when kids should be out sledding and making snow angels every chance they get as the average snowfall is 127 cm (50 inches) of snow annually (see our record low for temperature above!). The quick onset of snowfall and freezing temperatures result in a lot of snow shovelling just so we can make it out of the driveway to head to the mall to buy the snow boots and jackets everyone put off buying because we were determined THIS year wasn’t going to be as bad as last year. The crazy Calgary weather always provides interesting conversation while waiting in line at the local Starbucks.
We used to blame it on “global warming” but now the politically correct term is “Climate Change” since it seems obvious to the average person who decides to walk outside to find out if a coat or umbrella is required for the day, that the temperature feels more like it is cooling off, not warming up. I seem to rely less and less on the local weatherman to tell me what the day will bring as even science can’t predict our unstable weather with accuracy anymore. We listen and hope for the best armed with everything from sunglasses to winter boots. I have become a master at layering my clothing and trying my best to be prepared, after all, it would really suck to live somewhere the temperature was constant as my closet always welcomes me with the clothes I haven’t been able to wear for a few months.
As I flipped through my photos looking for the fabulous shots of our crazy Calgary weather to share on my blog, I, like many people discussing the weather by the water cooler, got distracted by the morbid curiosity surrounding Hurricane Irene. I could not avoid the media which made a very big deal about the preparedness in Manhattan. Yes, even as I sat at my kitchen table some 4,000 km (2500 miles) away , I wondered what it was like to be in the heart of what may or may not have been the storm of the century. I wonder, no matter how prepared you feel, do you feel prepared? And if you feel prepared to the point of insanity, and the storm isn’t what you prepared for, do you feel disappointed, or relieved? I know I was relieved to read a fellow blogger was safe and made the best of a few days in the apartment by spending quality time with her family. Her area was fairly unscathed, but I also know others were not so lucky. Every morning I hear of the rising death toll in the wake of Hurricane Irene in the United States and at home in Canada but am more curious about those who did survive and how will they move on and rebuild both their property and their lives? Will those close to the storm who didn’t sustain physical damage still feel the effects of emotional damage knowing they’re just fine while neighbours are struggling or will they just move forward like any other day? It is easy for me to sit in my comfy chair looking out at the cloudless blue sky pondering what others might be thinking but I have to wonder, are we next? Calgary won’t ever see a hurricane as it is landlocked, but there are so many other weather phenomenons I’m left wondering if I’ll ever be prepared or if I’ll be the one sitting in that comfy chair trying to blog wondering why the power is out and the internet isn’t accessible?