Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Tough Sledding

At the turning of the year, I wrote about the lack of snowmobiling action around here over the Christmas holidays. At that time, I reviewed the climate data from various stations nearby and concluded that a brown New Year's wasn't that extraordinary. Now here we are a month later, and still virtually no snow. The annual Snowmobile Rally organized by the Arcola Optimists went ahead last weekend, with posters proclaiming "We Have Snow!", but they had to trailer the sleds up into the hills where there actually was a bit of snow on the bush trails. There were only about a quarter as many riders as last year, from what I hear.

I'm also hearing comments from bloggers all over the continent about the mild conditions. Deb in Minnesota saw pussy willows in mid-January! Wondering what happened to our usual arctic high pressure systems, I thought to myself that maybe we've had them and just not noticed, because the arctic air is so warm.

Not so, according to this story from Yahoo News:

It's not like winter evaporated. It has just skirted the world's second largest country and focused its fury on other parts of the globe.

Arctic weather masses have left parts of Europe encased in ice. Greece has endured its heaviest snowfall in a decade. And an extreme cold snap across Russia sent temperatures plummeting to -40C and left dozens dead.

Oh dear. I hadn't heard anything about that. I did hear that there have been big disruptions in natural gas supply in parts of eastern Europe. That combination spells misery or worse.

Yet we go complacently along. I know that our home's heating system is doubly vulnerable, because the furnace won't run unless it has both natural gas and electricity. I've wondered about rigging up some sort of pedal-powered alternate drive for the fan, and a backup electrical supply if needed for the valve controls, so that we could at least have some heat as long as the gas supply was on. Then I get thinking that it might be simpler and better to just add a woodstove. I'd really like to rearrange the whole floor plan so that we don't have picture windows facing north and west, and most of the south wall taken up by an unheated porch. It just doesn't make sense for solar gain.

Then again, with the cloudy winter we've had so far, there wasn't much solar gain to miss.


Update - Wayne has more about mild weather in North America, and the long-term context.

1 comment:

Demoncrush said...

Hi I'm Jeff I've been checking out your blog. I'm a friend of Pilot's. It seems we all have a common goal (granted trying to accomplish it in different ways). Self sufficentcy and sustainability have been topics not far from my thoughts. I'm presently living in Regina but I'll be moving to Carlyle soon enough (my gf lives there).

Anywasy not alot of time to chat, just thought I'd say hi.

I'm also part of the blogging world check mine out at http://demoncrush.blogspot.com/