El Nino… El Nosnow

The South Nation River at Bridge Street in South Mountain. A low hanging sun hides behind a tree and threatens to set much too early, even for a Canadian winter.

Christmas was not totally green this year, but there was certainly much less snow than many people were surely hoping for. Since the summer, Ontario has been dealing with the somewhat less predictable weather patterns brought on by El Nino – a weather phenomenon that occurs once every few years due to higher than average sea surface temperatures in parts of the Pacific Ocean. 

This is our first experience of El Nino since 2016, and the current onset of the phenomenon has been used to partially explain the weather patterns we have been seeing since last summer. A dumping of snow in early December left us with some hope for a beautiful, fluffy white Christmas, and also gave school kids their first and only snow day before the Christmas break. But it was predicted that a warm start to winter would extinguish the beauty of the snow, and it sure did!

In the week following Christmas, heavy rains soaked our area for several days in a row. Any sign of winter was literally washed away by the rains, which – as if the elimination of our winter wonderland wasn’t bad enough – left mud puddles everywhere!

By last week, a cold snap and some snow flurries gave us a renewed reminder of winter, though it was more of a tease than anything. The photo that accompanies this article tells the story of January 4, when the water of the South Nation River flowed as fast as ever through South Mountain despite a biting cold wind in temperatures far below zero. The scene painted a picture of a false chill, with warm days preceding it, and an uncanny feeling that warm weather was once again on the horizon in the days that followed. 

It wasn’t until last weekend that we finally got a dumping of snow to give us the feeling of winter back, and quite a dumping it was! Despite this healthy helping of the white fluffy stuff, El Nino is surely not done with us yet, and if last month’s weather was any indication of the effects of this phenomenon, Ontarians may have to start calling it… El Nosnow!


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