Sunday, October 15, 2023

What Wiarton Willie, Canada’s Leading Prognosticator, Slept Through This Winter?

Wiarton Willie, who is he anyway? What – a prognosticator groundhog, future weather-teller? I have not really paid attention to Wiarton Willie since I arrived in Canada back in the late 80’s. However, when I heard that on Groundhog Day February 2nd, 2014 Wiarton Willie predicted six more weeks of winter – damn you groundhog. Perhaps you don’t know what an eventful nasty cold winter we just had this year. Did you sleep through it?

“There is no way this winter is ever going to end, as long as this groundhog keeps seeing his shadow. I don’t see any other way out. He’s got to be stopped. And I have to stop him.” ~ Phil Connors, Groundhog Day Movie

Let me recap what Wiarton Willie slept through or he would have if he lived in Aurora. Just in time for Christmas it started to rain. This was a fine slow falling innocent rain. After a couple of days all the trees were beautifully covered in thick crystal clear ice. The town was in sparkles when the sun shined or the street lights went on. Eventually with a thick accumulation of ice, the spectacular looking ice storm became disastrous and dangerous – trees started to crack and fall down. At night some parts of the town were in complete darkness due to power outages. Traffic was affected by power outages as well. Many lost power in their homes until Christmas. The ice did not melt for about two weeks.

When temperatures suddenly dropped, what now, the sky was falling? Mysterious booms were heard throughout the town and no they were not meteors falling from the sky. The mysterious booms turned out to be frost quakes – energy released by the ice in the form of loud sound. Sudden expansion of the ice due to sudden temperature drop caused these mysterious scary booms. From an exciting and new phenomena never heard by many of us, the frost quakes quickly became quite annoying.

Just as we had enough of the ice and cold temperatures, some really cold temperatures arrived in January as a result of the polar vortex. Temperatures dropped to below -40 C even during the day. I stayed home and I didn’t let my son go to school as well. I was definitely not in the mood to experience that freaking freezing cold again. Last time I remembered that cold was back in the mid 90s.

“I’ll give you a winter prediction: It’s gonna be cold, it’s gonna be grey, and it’s gonna last you for the rest of your life.” ~ Phil Connors, Groundhog Day Movie

If you missed the ice storm, frost quakes and polar vortex – I hope you didn’t miss the sun dogs? Some of us called them rainbows, just because they looked like rainbows. Rainbows need rain and sun to form and in the winter there is no water up in the sky. On cold winter days ice crystals in the air disperse the white light around the sun and give us a similar effect showing off the colors of the rainbow . So if you saw what you thought were rainbows in the winter these in fact were sun dogs.

Driving my son to school a couple of days ago I was reminded that Wiarton Willie might be right after all. The giant mountain of snow pile probably two meters high sitting on the curbside is not melting anytime soon. Enjoy another six weeks of winter and hopefully Wiarton Willie is wrong, wrong and wrong.

Anna Lozyk Romeo
Aurora, ON

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