Editor's column: Richmond's weather is all talk

When it comes to snow, I figure I’ve got some credibility. I was born in Winnipeg, grew up in Calgary and lived for 10 years in Ottawa. Okay, it’s not the far north, but it can still get darn cold — and very white.

In other words, I know my snow: powder snow, crud snow, dry snow, wet snow, dirty snow. But last week, I heard a new one, “conversational snow.”

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No kidding.

And, as the name implies, it’s the kind of snow that does nothing more than provide fodder for conversations.

How quintessentially Vancouver.

While the rest of Canada is subjected to a brutal polar vortex that saw temperatures plummet to -50C with the wind chill, accompanied by massive dumps, the Lower Mainland is experiencing a weather phenomenon that simply gives us something to talk about.

And, talk we did: “Will it snow?” “Won’t it snow?” “How much will it snow?”

 “Will they plow?” “Should they plow?” “Will buses run?”

Anyway, I have to hand it to those folks at the weather office for coming up with such a perfectly apt description.

Speaking of those folks, it was nice to see them honoured on Tuesday with National Weatherperson’s Day.

Yeah, I thought you might have missed it. I would have too if I didn’t live with a weather geek who spends hours recording daily weather stats in a big black book and has a weather calendar pinned to the wall. It was on the calendar that I noticed the otherwise overlooked day of honour. Feb. 5 was chosen for National Weatherperson’s Day because it’s the birthday of John Jeffries, one of America’s first weather observers born Feb. 5, 1744.

According to Wikipedia, Jeffries started taking daily weather measurements in 1774. (There you go, Honey, you might get your day yet.) In 1784, he took the first balloon flight over London, England to gather data for his study of air at high altitudes. (Okay, maybe not.)

We’ve come rather a long way in 200-plus years, with satellites, space cameras and elaborate computer systems to track every type of atmospheric phenomenon. We’ve also come a long way from when weather persons were less than versed in all things meteorological. David Letterman is just one of the more famous comedians who started his on-air career as a weatherman, providing critical astronomical observations such as, “Sunrise and sunset – those are very important statistics – if you happen to be a raccoon or a bat.”

 In these days of climate change and berserk weather patterns, it’s probably best we have actual weather experts providing our forecasts and observations. But science alone can’t make people care, that takes a certain art. So kudos to the inventors of “conversational snow.”

On the note of talking about weather, the Richmond News has just started posting weather forecasts on our website, along with weather trivia and even some stats.

We’re predicting its not just raccoons and bats who care to know when these short, dark days are ever going to end.

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