You’re right, winter is more wintery

  • Feb. 13, 2008 3:00 p.m.

By Alex Rinfret–If you think this winter has been snowier and colder than other recent winters – you’re right. But Tlell weather observer John Davies says he isn’t yet ready to give 2007-2008 the title of “worst winter ever”. He has vivid memories of the winter of 1972, when the islands were blanketed by more than eight feet of snow in total. In metric units, the snowfall of 1972 translates into exactly 201.9 centimetres, he said. To compare, so far in 2008 he has recorded about 32 centimetres of snow. One problem with comparing winters is that the new year occurs in the middle of the season. The 1972 snowfall amount reflects snow which fell between January and December – covering the end of one winter and the beginning of the next one. To get a better idea of how this winter compares to the average one, Mr. Davies added the snow we’ve had since the beginning of December to the snow we’ve had so far in 2008. By Feb. 8 this amount equalled a grand total of 81 centimetres, with the potential for more to come. That is pretty much the most snowfall we’ve had for at least the past 10 or 15 years, Mr. Davies said. In the recent past, we’ve had two years – 2003 and 2005 – when less than six centimetres flaked down. Not surprisingly, given all the snow, this winter has been somewhat colder than usual, Mr. Davies said. In December, he recorded 22 days when the temperature was below zero, in January 18 days, and so far in February, six out of eight days were freezing. Total number of freezing days so far: 46. The upside of the cold and snowy weather is that there have not been as many southeasterly storms as usual, Mr. Davies said. Big wind storms don’t often occur when the temperature is below zero. “We are delighted at how few storms there have been so far,” he said. While Mr. Davies is a keen weather observer, he said he never makes predictions about what the weather will be like in the future. Just because we’ve had a lot of snow so far doesn’t tell us anything about whether the rest of the winter will continue that way. However, he did take note of the weather on “groundhog day” this past Saturday. Tradition has it that if it’s sunny on Feb. 2, so that a groundhog can see his shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter. If the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, spring is just around the corner. Mr. Davies said he would have to search long and hard to find a groundhog to observe, but he stepped out to check for his own shadow, which he could see clearly. As for whether that means six more weeks of winter, we’ll have to dress warmly, wait and see.

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