Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Toronto and Another Cold Weather Alert

The radio nudged me awake today at 7:30. Most often, the guys on CBC Radio help me to start my day. "It is minus 21, minus 30 with windchill this morning. The City has declared another cold weather alert, the  5th so far this winter",  Gill Dempsey's cheerful voice proclaimed.   As I opened my eyes I wondered if I would see a winter wonderland scene outside - last night they had predicted some snow this morning.  The south wall of my condo is all glass - I am still debating window coverings -  and so provides an exquisite view of the Lake right from my bed. Not only the lake, but the island airport, the CNE grounds, Ontario Place and for good measure, the Gardiner Express Way, Lakeshore Go Trains and the 509 Trolley route.  Boats, planes, cars and trains all in motion. No, not snow, I could see beyond my balcony and the hint of sunrise.  There was something more magical at play - today my eyes lingered over the lake as the dance of the wisps was underway.

The sun was peaking through the low cloud to the south-east.  Wispy tendrils coming off the water, in the distance leaping up into the sky as if they were transfusing the clouds above providing Buffalo with it's lake effect snowfall.  This is becoming a familiar sight -  the air being so very cold over the lake that clouds seemingly formed directly from the water and rose up into the sky right before your very eyes.  Yes, another cold day.

We haven't yet heard the words "Polar Vortex" being bandied about by the weather man this year as yet - last year it seemed the 2014 neologism .  So far this year, the Weather Forecasters just refer to it as an arctic air mass (meaning just cold weather) and tell us it is descending upon us yet again.  I am hoping we are not in for any Polar Vortex weather this winter.  Anyway, the weather this last week or two has been damn cold that is all. 

The view to the west was not quite as spectacular as to the east, but it was great to see blue skies all around.   I can cozy up and enjoy the sun and the view and dream of warmer days and make travel plans. Abby was no more anxious to rush out for her morning stroll than I was, so I wandered over to the kitchen to make coffee and settle in for an easy do it morning.

 I had been hoping for a much milder winter this year.  I guess we can all blame global warming for this.
According to the City of Toronto Statistics, we have had 1 less cold weather alert in the city than last year at this time - but last winter we had 36 cold weather alerts -  4 times the number for the previous winter (2012/2013)!  The highest number by far in the last decade!  With the 2 recent deaths of homeless men in our streets, I am glad that the City has seemed more open to calling an alert rather than not.  I looked for stats to see how many homeless died last winter, but apparently that is not a question that the search engines can answer. Here is to hoping that we don't have any more deaths due to the homeless dying of exposure this winter.

For the geeks out there - I found a You Tube video which explains the Polar Vortex and last year concluded that these cold weather events would continue and increase in the face of global warning.  According to a Science Digest published study: "... thermal and wind driven ECWAs  (Extreme Cold Weather Alerts) will continue for Toronto under climate change scenarios, although with gradual decreasing frequency."  The weather models the researchers used projected out to 2050 - but of course I will be long gone by then so I guess I'd better get used to bundling up.   And as for the homeless?  I think I will pick up a bunch of warm socks and start handing them out instead of change.  Seems we are in this for the long haul.
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