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Happy New Year, A Recap From Home

Hello and Happy New Year 2012.

I must first apologize for the updates having ceased since boxing day. Amidst celebrating new years and spending time with family I ended up with no internet for a couple of days due to accidentally damaging the DSL adapter when moving a stand across the floor downstairs. It took until the last minute before the ISP was going to come but I ended simply taking off the protective sheath and replacing the phone cord with an ethernet cord. The phone cord still works so I don’t know why that was the solution.

I am preparing for a bitter one up here. In early November, the 1980s record for November snowfall was broken, and now like all years, we are about to reach our coldest point of the season from late January to early March. The water influences most of our weather patterns. No part of the island is more than 100 km from the ocean. All my life it was within a normal range to experience humid temperatures in the summer, with the months of late June to early September ranging from 10 degrees at the lowest to a normal 15-25C, with highs of 30C + in late July to mid August, and then winter would usually come around in early December, sometimes not until late December.

The temperatures since mid November 2011, have been around 5-10 at the highest, and -15 to -20 at the lowest with a real bitter winter chill at times. I cannot imagine living even a short ride up north in Labrador where temperatures of -25 to -30 are not uncommon.

Aside from having to have available shelter during the late fall and 4-6 months of straight winter, it’s one of the more safe places on Earth once you adapt to the climate. The climate here is very strange – I’ve seen hail fall, snow and rain and sunshine followed by strong winds all in a short period of two or three hours. To think that we have a population of just 511,000 with such a paradise of trees, and oil (though dangerous to acquire) and fish, though the numbers have drastically decreased over the years. We remain more of a mid class society with a fairly high percentage living in a low class environment. The Capital of St. John’s, is the foggiest, snowiest, wettest, windiest, and most cloudy city in Canada. Not always as fun as it sounds, especially for astronomy.

One of the many bridges destroyed by Igor

We don’t have tornadoes or volcanoes threatening us, but we do have risks for danger like the slight increase in hurricanes since the early 2000s, having been hit by Hurricane Igor in 2010, which has been since been referred to as a 1-in-100 year event. I had been living in the downtown St. John’s region at the time. The hurricane was regarded as a Category 4 in the beginning days, but when it reached Newfoundland it had been called a Category 1. We had in the past and have since been hit by rapidly decreasing category 1 systems, typically of Cape Verde. In my mind, based on all of the climate change worldwide, it feels only a matter of time, 2 years, 20 years, before a Category 1 or 2 tears things up once more, being on such an island where it is located, I believe we’ve been lucky without realizing it all of these years.

2010 - Flooding in Trouty, NL

Large stretches of roadways were completely washed out by severe flooding, including a portion of the Trans-Canada Highway, isolating approximately 150 communities. Many parts of the capital had no electricity for 2-5 days, other parts were out for weeks. There are so many small towns and fishing communities up north. The videos of roads splitting from the flooding and the stories of people swept to the waves were tragic. It reminded us that not even we are safe here in our Atlantic haven. Me and my roommates at the time had decided to bundle up intensely and to head out in it, so we did that.

When we first went outside the gales were strong enough to pull your entire being. Traffic lights that remained swayed, most were completely missing and at least one hit a passing vehicles in the capital. Down one road we meet a massive tree that had torn up an entire drive way and had impaled the roof of a house, poles were down all over, fire trucks and lines swaying all over. We get to the harbour and the wind is just enough not to throw us. The flooding was terrible, entire yards were consumed, the main roads in the area had water to a person’s chest at some points. I remember lots of trucks and vans attempting to run the flooded bridge to get to the main road, some could do it but some couldn’t and had to back out. The entire park and it’s benches were engulfed while swans and other animals frantically ran around the roads and people’s lawns.

Igor Making Landfall on NL

For a decreasing category 1, it sure hit us. The warnings were for a strong tropical storm as it decreased in power. I would argue with the force of the winds and rainfall that it was a category 1 right before it hit us, if not one that tapered off from a hurricane after it hit parts of the island. Some areas received up to 238 mm of rain, ranking Igor the third wetting tropical cyclone of Canada’s history. There was a storm tide of 1.1 m along the coast and winds ranged from 80 to 172 km per hour. Excessive runoff and flash flooding was noted all over.

With regards to earthquakes, the last earthquake was the 1929 Magnitude 7.2 off the southern Grand Banks, the banks being a set of high undersea plateaus ranging from 80 to 330 feet in depth that are practically guarding Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. The 1929 quake was devastating at the time for the types of weak structure housing and fishing communities that stood close to the coast.

And that’s where I am on this blue gem. I had always taken it for granted, but I feel so very appreciative of it after so many peaceful years here.

Let’s hope that things calm down this year and that many lives are spared of the inevitable tragedy of having no selection or choice of where one is born. That, is the most important thing, that we put aside our differences and that we understand how the random selection works, and that no human needs to experience the fury or pain of this random selection based on the inhabitants and general rule of each area on this planet.

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January 4, 2012 - Posted by | Admin

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