Spring 2019: Now with extra spring

As I type this it is currently 15°C and sunny. The temperature is higher than the seasonal norm and the season–officially Spring as of today–has debuted in spectacular fashion. After a good six weeks of below seasonal temperatures in the last month and a half of winter, this is welcome indeed.

Flowers are flowering, trees are budding and people are already getting sun burns. It’s great.

Cooler, more seasonal temperatures and showers are forecast for next week, but for now we bask in the glory of an early spring, the restorative powers of the sun providing an extra boost to the trials of a typical work day.

Today I did not wear my winter coat

Today was the first day this year I did not wear my winter jacket to work. It was 21ºC when I got home, according to Weather Underground.

It was nice.

March 16, 2019

This is the date that The Weather Network is promising Vancouver will reach double digits for the daily high for the first time in 100 years. The temperature is alleged to reach 10ºC. I will ya out my shorts and t-shirt that morning in anticipation. They are also forecasting showers, so I will also include an umbrella next to my shorts and t-shirt.

With spring approaching this month and the promise of un-cold weather in the near future, let’s review Winter 2018/19:

December: This month was a bit of a throwback to winters of yore, which is to say it was relatively mild and not-so-relatively wet. It rained a lot and I spent many-a-minute eyeing the traffic roaring at highway speed along Brunette Avenue, hoping to avoid being sprayed by a giant wave kicked up by an 18 wheeler. I was mostly successful. No snow. Yay.

January: Mild with some cold days and pretty dry. This is similar to a lot of the winter weather we’ve had in recent years. I like it. Only a few traces of snow. Yay.

February. The entire month was pretty much 3-6 degrees below seasonal temperatures. And it snowed. Not once, not twice, but more than that. Some snow was wet and gone the same day, but the last snowfall has become semi-permanent as daytime temperatures have been too low to melt it much and nighttime lows have been consistently below freezing. We had an actual snow day at work. I am kind of over the cold and snow now, so no yay.

Early March has been more of the same, with cold temperatures, though it seemingly got up to 9ºC today. While it has been getting slightly warmer, this has been offset by sharp winds that end up making it feel even colder than when it’s cold. No yay.

If I was actually running outside right now…well, I wouldn’t be, because there is too much compact snow on the trails, as was the case two years ago during The Great Snow of 2017. At current rates of melting, the trails might be comfortably run-worthy in two or three weeks–assuming we don’t get more snow or another polar vortex or a frost giant heavy-breathing over the region for a week.

The final question is: Why are people so fascinated by the weather? I can only assume it’s because there’s no way to avoid it. And getting soaked by an 18 wheeler hellbent on hydroplaning is an experience you are not likely to forget.

Snow business

I used to get irritated over snow. I even have a tag for this blog called damn snow. But now I just don’t care much about it and I have climate change to thank for it.

Let me explain.

The area around southwestern BC is temperate rain forest. This means it rarely gets too hot or too cold. But it does rain a lot. Like, for half the year a lot.

Except it doesn’t do that much anymore.

It used to be that winters were pretty mild—temperatures consistently above freezing—and we got lots of rain, days and weeks of unrelenting rain. You could almost smell the SAD coming off people as they glumly trudged around through one downpour after another, batting their umbrellas against one another on crowded sidewalks.

When we got snow, it was usually because it just got cold enough for it, meaning it was a heavy, wet snow. The cold wouldn’t last long. Sometimes it felt like minutes. And as the temperature rose, the snow would change to rain.

The rain would relentlessly pound away at the accumulated snow, making it into a slush sea and turning intersections into lakes, with the melting snow jamming up all the sewer drains. It made crossing the street a bit of an adventure. Not the good kind of adventure, though, the “Hey, my pants are soaked up to my knees” kind of adventure.

But for some time that hasn’t really happened. Now it’s more typical for snowfall to occur when it’s too cold to change to rain, and when the weather clears, it stays cold, so the snow melts slowly, instead of turning into vast oceans of slush under ceaseless sheets of rain. This is generally a nice change, because it is more pleasant to deal with slowly melting snow than slush rivers that swallow vehicles whole.

The downside is the snow can hang around a lot longer. I think back two years ago, to our last great snowpocalypse. I ran in the first week of December 2016. It snowed a few days later. No biggie, I think, I’ll miss a week while the snow melts away.

It did not melt. It snowed again. It snowed some more and we had a rare white Christmas. We had a white New Year’s Eve. A white Valentine’s Day. Every time the snow started to melt, another system would sweep in, and because it remained cold, it just piled on more snow.

It finally seemed that by early March the snow was going away for good—then it snowed yet again, making it three months where I could not run outside at my preferred locations because they were never not covered in hard-packed, icy snow.

That was a bit of a bummer. I adapted by running on treadmills instead. It hardly ever snows inside.

All of this is likely due to climate change. The winters here, usually mild and wet, are trending toward dry, with snow taking the place of rain. It’s not consistent, of course. This past December was wet and mild, but January was cooler and dry. Not cold—not until this past week, anyway— just dry instead of wet.

I can live with that. In fact, I like it. But I know it’s because the climate is changing and this is the new normal and the new normal is generally going to be Very Bad for humans and so I feel guilty for enjoying it.

But I still enjoy it.

So I no longer curse the damn snow, because while it can be more persistent than before, winters are overall a lot nicer than they used to be, even if it means we as a species are probably doomed. You take the good with the bad.

Haiku to The Rains

We’ve had a rainfall warning the last few days, which, as you might guess, means a whole lot of rain– between 40-90 mm, depending on where exactly you are. It’s been quite wet.

The Rains

The rains fall heavy
Vehicles splash and spray me
My spirit is damp

The rain actually doesn’t bother me–this is definitely the wrong area to live if it does–and I’ve learned to avoid the areas where splashing and spraying can happen.

But I still remember that dark winter day last year when I was learning that lesson, diverting along the one block stretch of Brunette Avenue between the Sapperton SkyTrain station and my place, unable to take the much nicer hospital lane, closed (and still closed until December 2019) due to construction. This section of Brunette tends to be driven at highway speeds. I don’t know what the actual speed limit is here, but I am reasonably certain it’s not highway speed. The combination of excess water on the road and the aforementioned high speed led to me getting soaked with a great wave of water that fanned over the sidewalk. I stood for a moment, trying to register the fact that this little slice of a comedy movie had actually happened to me.

I walked on and got soaked three more times. I was very wet when I got home. In the end I found it kind of funny. And instructive. I’ve never risked the same trip along Brunette again during The Rains. The safe diversion adds two blocks to my trip, a small price to pay in exchange for not getting a metric ton of water sprayed on me at high velocity.

The bitey breeze

Today it was sunny. But it was also windy. And the wind felt cold.

Now I must truly admit that summer is over. The summer wind doesn’t feel bitter, it feels playful, except when it’s whipping up forest fires that burn down half the province. But still, it’s at the very least pleasant to feel against your skin. The summer wind, not the forest fires.

What I’m saying is I’m glad I wore my hoodie today.

A side effect of taking lots of nature-type photos is I’m paying a lot more attention to seasonal changes, so I’m noticing things like the leaves on trees changing color, or flowers starting to fade and die a lot more than I did before. Some things, like so many chestnuts on a sidewalk it feels like the sound stage of a slapstick comedy, are harder to miss even without my new heightened awareness.

I swear the next post will not be about the weather.

Hello again summer

It got into the 20s today and actually felt a bit warm. It was nice.

Judging by the 10 day forecast this may be the last hurrah for summer this year. I’m not complaining, mind you, just looking back wistfully on the long, warm days of yore. You know, earlier this month. And today.

But I’ll admit, a lot of the trees are very pretty right now, even as we prepare for The Rains.

Run 596: Fire danger low, slug danger high

Run 596
Average pace: 5:36/km
Location: Burnaby Lake (CW)
Start: 3:45 pm
Distance: 5:02 km
Time: 28:11
Weather: Overcast, some sun
Temp: 15ºC
Humidity: 80%
Wind: nil to light
BPM: 168
Weight: 163.3 pounds
Total distance to date: 4560 km
Devices: Apple Watch, iPhone 8

Last night we had a rare thunderstorm advisory for Metro Vancouver warning people to stay indoors due to the possibility of flash floods. It rained copiously.

It was still raining this morning and I planned on running in the rain for the first time in quite awhile. But I waited to see if the rain would ease up.

I waited and waited.

Close to 3 p.m. the sky had brightened and I figured that was as good as it was going to get, so I put on my long-sleeved shirt, donned my wired Ear Pods (not wanting to risk the non-water resistant Air Pods that cost about seven times as much) and headed out into a light sprinkle.

Weirdly, by the time I got to the river, it stopped raining and it stayed stopped for both the run and the walk back. At times the sun even came out.

Considering I nearly skipped running altogether, it actually went very well. It was about 15ºC, which is, as far as I’m concerned, the Goldilocks temperature for running. I did sweat a little, but only because it was quite humid after the rain. I went clockwise around the lake, thinking the trails on the south side would be in better shape after the rain, but there were only a few puddles in total that I had to deke around. The trail was generally in quite good shape and sparsely populated, though more were coming out after I was winding down from the run.

Speaking of coming out, the slugs were everywhere. For every puddle I dodged I probably dodged ten slugs. It’s to the point where if it rains, I expect to see slugs everywhere I go now.

The run went surprisingly well. I felt good, had no issues, and trucked along, snipping five seconds off the last run and coming in at 5:36/km. My BPM was up a fair bit, to 168, but still (just) below the max I’m comfortable with. I jogged the majority of the walk out of the lake, with one km even coming in comfortably under the 6:00/km mark. I’m probably ready to run farther now, maybe even back to doing a full 10K, but my knees scare me. Stupid knees. Still, they held up well today. Maybe they like the damp.

Here’s where I once again vow to run during the week, but it’s strangely hard to motivate myself. Maybe now that I’ve done a “rain” run it will be easier.

Weird rain

Weird in that today is the first time in a long while that we have had fairly steady rain during the day.

School kids were probably fuming. This is the first weekend since classes started.

Other signs of impending fall:

  • The swimming pool at Hume Park is closed for the season, and has been drained. The slide is still in place, so if someone really wanted to, they could climb up it and slide down into a nearly four foot deep concrete hole. Probably not recommended.
  • Likewise, the bubble over the tennis courts at the Burnaby Tennis Club (which I can see on my runs at Burnaby Lake) has been put back in place. It looks like a big oval marshmallow. Mmm. marshmallows. People would have been able to play tennis today because it’s up, so good timing there.
  • The sunset tonight was at 7:37 p.m. The post-dinner walks are going to be spooky pretty soon.
  • It never got past 20ºC today. In fact I don’t think it got past 16. Brr, relatively speaking.

I’m not complaining about the change in weather, mind you, as we need the rain and despite a slow start in July, the summer has been pretty dry overall. Still, I always lament this season’s passing. The world just feels so alive and vibrant in the summer.

I will now count the days until next summer. Actually, thanks to a Google search, I now know it’s 265 days. I’m undecided on whether this precise level of knowledge is a good or bad thing.

Request for Summer 2018 in Haiku form

I know this is almost like asking for winter to start in October, so I want to make it very clear I AM NOT ASKING FOR WINTER TO START IN OCTOBER.

That said, my Haiku:

Summer you burned me
And half the province as well
It’s fine to stop now

By coincidence the forecast is calling for showers tomorrow.

Rain today

It rained today, the first rain we’ve had this month during daylight hours (we had one other brief shower overnight). It took 25 days to arrive, which is impressive, but in a somewhat depressing way, less impressive than it once was because dry summers are no longer uncommon.

The rain is good because it helps reduce the likelihood of the tinder-dry forests instantly going up in flames, it helps to douse the smoke drifting down from all the current forest fires already raging due to the tinder-dry aforementioned, and it may slightly revive the very very brown grass seen everywhere.

As I am the lucky recipient of a return of the cold I had a few weeks ago, I probably wouldn’t have run, anyway, but even that turned out to be okay–I enjoyed the indulgence of a true day off, where I shrugged off not completing my activity rings, enjoyed some comfort food, and bought a couple of Frisbees. Er, flying discs.

The weather appear much the same tomorrow, but if I’m up to it, I may try a short, soggy run. And like it!

The first day of summer 2018

Today is the first day of summer and it also marked the abrupt end of the current heatwave, with temperatures in the high teens and cloudy skies, with even a few drops of precipitation in the morning. Yesterday it was around 30ºC and the older SkyTrain cars were like communal sweat boxes thanks to the lack of air conditioning.

So I’m not complaining, exactly. Yesterday was hot. Today I wore a jacket to work. I’d like some more sun, just not Africa Hot sun. The forecast through the end of the month is a crazy quilt of mainly sunny, light rain, cloudy, partly sunny and who knows what else. Meanwhile, the FIRE DANGER signs are in no, er, danger, of going up any time soon.

Again, not complaining. And as I type this the sun is trying to poke out from the clouds, so perhaps it’s time to step outside.

UPDATE: Later in the afternoon it became sunny, with a high of 22ºC or so. Not-a-complaint rescinded!