Congratulations, Canada. Our land, that with the longest coastline and the most freshwater, has also won first place for being the world’s most boring country. Why? Perhaps it has something to do with our obsession with the weather.
There’s no doubt that Canadians love talking about our weather. We talk about it on the bus, we listen for it on the radio, and we watch it on TV. Canadian students often organize their schedules around weather predictions because one good snowfall could cancel buses, bury cars, and (hopefully) close schools.
This year, our winter has been particularly strange. Instead of chipping ice off our windshields, we are enjoying spring-like temperatures, rain, and the occasional dusting of snow. Some attribute this to global warming. Others think it’s just a natural quirk. Actually, it may be a bit of both.
La Niña, a naturally occurring set of weather extremes in the tropical Pacific Ocean, sent the jet stream farther north over Canada than usual. By pushing it up higher over the continent, it has also pushed the colder Arctic air up as well. On top of this, La Niña is sending up warm Gulf air and its moisture. Meanwhile, Europe is enduring an unusual cold snap so brutal it’s collecting a death toll.
Where did I hear this? In a family conversation, of course.
Our odd winter has not kept us from our usual weather-centred conversations. If anything, Canadians are instead discussing how bad the winter was last year, how glad they are to avoid winter driving, or how upset they are that they can’t go skiing.
Why do we love to obsess about our weather? Some weather networks say Canadian weather brings people together.
Canada has not always been known for having the “warmest” people. Some Canadian provinces even pin the “nastiest Canadian” title on other provinces. (We can recall the controversial 2009 Coors Light ad in British Columbia that claimed its beer was “colder than most people in Toronto”.)
Yet when the weather turns unbearable, even strangers take time to help each other.
Some say we keep ourselves constantly updated on the forecast because Canada boasts some of the most unpredictable weather in the world.
And we like to be ready for it. On the whole planet, there are only three networks dedicated to weather. Canada is home to two of them.
Bryan Jones, a meteorologist with Canada’s Weather Network, has another idea. “There have been many times when weather events and climate episodes have changed the course of history,” says Jones. “The lull in the storms either side of the Normandy invasions of World War II, the abandonment of the Viking settlements in Greenland and Newfoundland as the Little Ice Age developed, the Irish Potato Famine of the late 1840s and the resultant mass emigrations, and many other weather-related events have helped alter how the wave of history might have turned out otherwise.”
According to the Weather Network, our mild conditions could last until the end of February. They caution that winter could still show up at any time. Snow recently pummelled areas north of Lake Superior, and the rest of us still have March to go.
Don’t worry. We still have a lot to talk about.