Will rural Newfoundland celebrate Christmas without snow?
Tomorrow is December 9, 2010 with just over two weeks before a visit from Santa and there is not a drop of the fluffy white stuff. Living North of 50, in Northern Newfoundland it is expected that we have snow. Although last year we experienced a typically warm winter with an absence of snow for most of January/February. It wasn’t our first “green” Christmas, but it is somewhat of a rarity.
I remember just 15-20 years ago, as a child trick-or-treating, sometimes we would need to wear a snowsuit or be careful due to a blanket of snow on the ground. In 1995, the island was hit with a severe storm. I woke up with snow covering my bedroom window on the second floor. There were people with bungalows that had snow reaching the roofs and needed digging out from others. Have these days of mountains of snow in yards become a thing of the past for our region. Weather patterns seem to be very unpredictable. I just returned from Ireland on November 24th. A week later they received snowfall that crippled the rail network and put flights in chaos. This has spread to parts of Europe. Southern Ontario is experiencing 100+ cms of snowfall recently and a frost warming for Florida? Just this past weekend after a stay at the Tuckamore Lodge, Maine Brook I checked the temperature gauge on my car, which read 8 degrees Celsius in the morning! Incredible.
For those wishing to take advantage of winter tourism in the region, don’t despair as there is opportunity. We did have snowfall last season, allowing good snowmobiling through March and April, especially on the “hills”. The Northern Peninsula has untapped potential when it comes to developing a winter tourism season, as we have one of the longest winter seasons, an abundance of activity waiting to be packaged (snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, camping, rabbit snaring and ice-fishing) and well-experience guides from residents in the region.
There are always mixed reviews from residents when the topic of snow comes up, with a portion of the population that could live without it, especially digging out and driving it horrid road conditions. However, for most residents there is an outdoor culture. We enjoy riding our snowmobiles, spending a weekend in the cabin with a cup of tea and playing a game of cards or hunting rabbits while snowshoeing.
One thing for certain is that warm weather affects shopping and spending patterns in the rural economy and places strains on small business. These warmer weather patterns makes shopping trips to large urban centres to Corner Brook (400+ KM) south more frequent. Money spent at Wal-Mart leads to future job losses on the Great Northern Peninsula. If weather were colder, I believe more people would shop local. In turn, expenditures would increase for winter clothing, outdoor recreational equipment, gasoline, snack food and beverages for a weekend at the cabin.
Currently, the weather trend is above freezing. A 14 day trend on the weather network for my community forecasts sunny warm weather during this period. There is a glimmer of home that we may have a blanket of snow by Christmas, as the 21st shows possible snowfall.
Although, I don’t enjoy shoveling snow or driving in the poor conditions as I am a commuter to work, I do enjoy snow! It is part of our culture and I will never forget all the sleigh rides I have taken on the hill just outside my house. Hoping to take some more rides this winter….if there is snow.
Share your experiences with Newfoundland winter, favourite moments, childhood memories, Christmas stories and others in the comments section.
Live Rural NL – CCM