Tuesday, November 24, 2009

winter weather gremlins

The weather continues. So much for the long, bitterly cold winter we were supposed to get (shhh . . . don't tell the weather gremlins or Farmers' Almanac I said that). This has got to be one of the longest, mildest, sunniest, snowless-iest Novembers in the history of Upsala. The ground is as bare as Yul Brynner's head, and there is still no major snow in sight.

Oops. I just looked at the Upsala weather report which calls for periods of snow this Saturday (blast those weather gremlins . . . they must be reading over my shoulder). Not that Environment Canada's seven day forecast is anything close to being accurate. 'Periods of snow' could mean anything from cloudy with a flake or two, to rainy with a spatter of wet snow mixed in, to clear and sunny and 'oops, I guess we got that one wrong,' to 'forty-below-and-I-really-hate-winter' weather.

In all sincerity, I hope they got it wrong. Normally, even I'm not wimpy enough to complain about snowstorms in November-nearly-December . . . normally. But this Saturday and Sunday I'm back in Kenora for more firefighter training. We have mostly fun stuff left to do, like car fires, pit fires and interior attack fires, but all fires involve dragging hoses and spraying water and getting wet, and then getting wetter. Even if you're an instructor. Especially if you're an instructor. In normal November weather, your turnout gear gets so crusted in ice that you look like a Hokkaido ice sculpture by the end of the first evolution (you can see more of that amazing artwork here).

Have any of you fire chiefs out there in cyberspace ever noticed that white helmets attract water? Mine does. It's a regular water magnet. I'm standing there innocently mentoring my faithful firefighters while they run their paces with the inch and a half hoselines, when suddenly, with expert clumsiness, they momentarily lose control of the nozzle and give me a brief shower. The innocent 'sorry Chief, did we get you wet?' look gives it all away. Students from other departments aren't quite so bad, but I believe it is a universally held truth that yellow helmets must occasionally and accidentally shower white ones.

When the sun is blazing, and you really would rather go for a swim than a sweaty sauna in your turnout gear, a shot of water is welcome. But when the spray freezes Jack-London-to-build-a-fire-instantaneously, turning you into a walking icicle, the humor is quickly lost.

All that to say, I hope the nice weather holds until Monday. After that, winter weather gremlins do your worst. We're ready for you.

On a sort of related topic, you can read Pittgirl's humorous take on a Pittsburgh winter here.

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