Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Weather Thoughts From the Comforts of South Florida

I am a proud Canadian. It is often said of Canadians that we are obsessed with two things in life; hockey and the weather. Actually, if you think about it, the two are inextricably linked. Winter life bred our consumptive fascination with shinny. But, it is our interest in the weather that I find truly interesting. 

My guess is that our history as an agrarian society has some basis for this passion. Farmers need to follow weather patterns, else they perish. There was a time in the not-so-distant past where a majority of my compatriots depended on rainfall estimates and wind models for their livelihoods. Not so much today. More than 80% of Canadians now live in major urban centres, where weather is a thing to be loathed, embraced, feared or mocked. Ask any Canadian today what the temperature is and they will answer something like this: "Well the actual temperature is a brutal -21 degrees C, but if you factor in the windchill, it feels more like -32!" (For all of you Americans who still haven't embraced the metric system like the rest of the world, that is translated as f*&$#@g cold!! As a touchstone, you might want to remember that -40 is the same on both the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales!) The same holds true in the reverse. If you were to ask a fellow countryman for an assessment of the searing summer heat, you would get a response close to the following: "Well the actual temperature is hovering around 32, but the humidex has it closer to 43! It is stifling!" We can never just say the real number, because the real number doesn't feel like the real number. 

We pour over the weather reports like crack addicts. We need to be the most accurate and the most up-to-date. "It isn't -21.  CityPulse said it was -19, and they are never wrong!" Cold is cold people! We are incredibly loyal to our weather casters. Everybody has a favourite. 

"I watch Dave because he is always accurate." 

"Are you nuts? Susan is the best! She has never steered me wrong!"

Dipsticks!!! They all get their information from the same place, Environment Canada, and they are all preaching the same bullshit. You like Dave because he can write backwards with both hands and you like Susan because she is hot! You could be just as accurate by walking outside and assessing it yourself.

And, we are pompous about our weather acumen. We brag about our heartiness and we scoff at blizzard reports. Snow? Bring it on! Heat? We're tough! Rain? We'll compare our floods with your floods anytime, anywhere! Most of us own several winter coats. One for looks, one for warmth and one for frigid. When a former mayor called upon the army for aid during a particularly horrific storm, we Torontonians cowered in shame at the images broadcast. We were the laughingstock of the country. (It is interesting that we also can't forget about it. The ten year anniversary of this event occurred last week and it was marked with commemorative newspaper articles and interviews galore.) We mock our southern brethren when they close schools for an inch or two of the white stuff, and we laugh out loud at the mess they make of road clearing. Yes, we Canadians know our weather.

It is amusing that this obsession transfers when we travel or relocate. Whenever I come to the southern house, The Husband always immediately checks out the weather channel. We worry when a cold front is approaching (as if a 70 degree temperature will seem chilly to us!) and we stress over the number of rainy days. (I will admit that being down here for an extended period of time this year has made me far less involved with the atmospheric conditions!) You wouldn't believe how many native Floridians are wearing turtleneck sweaters and ski jackets today in what they laughingly refer to as a cold snap! We Canadians? Today you can find many of us at the beach soaking up the sun. 

I know that whatever I say today will be of zero comfort to my nearest and dearest back home, stuck in the midst of a miserable deep freeze that is showing no signs of abating. That is the reason that I winter as much as possible down here. I may be a proud Canadian, but I sure as hell am not stupid!!


  1. The year I visited my sister in Phoenix in February, I was astounded to see that she got the kids up, dressed, and out the door to daycare without once checking the weather forecast! Of course, why would she? The only variation is in temperature between hot and very hot.

    I've always thought we'd feel more comfortable if we reversed it: In summer, we could say that the temp is 27, but with the windchill it feels like 26; in winter, -20 might feel like -19 with the humidex. No, wait, that doesn't work, does it? It's not the cold that sits in the bones, it's the damp. OK, let's just use the windchill in the summer for starters.

  2. Just checked the Weather Network online (MY favorite source) -- it's -18 BUT IT FEELS LIKE -27!!

    Here are my plans for a true-north-strong-and-free-weather-obsessed day:

    I will be telling everyone I speak to today to make sure they wear a hat & gloves.

    I will comment on - no, make that complain about - the cold snap at least 20 times.

    I will worry about my parents, who should be in South Florida, not Thornhill.

    I will have to retrieve my dog from the back yard when she can't get back up the steps after a 30-second pee break.

    I will feel sorry for my aging Camry.

    I will continue counting the days, nay, the hours until I board our national airline and head south to the other land of our people.

    I will actually daydream about a parking lot dust-up at Publix.

    I AM CANADIAN. (and I am frickin' freezin')