First Snow of the Season


I have a rule that I won’t pull out my heavy duty warm winter coat until December 1st. There’s always a few chilly days in November that make me consider regretting that I made this rule. But I just can’t embrace winter until December beckons. So, December is here. The winter coat has come out. It’s mighty cold outside, and the season’s first snow is on the horizon.

There is something magical about snow in December. The image of white flakes gently falling from the sky, blanketing the city, brings a smile to my face. Once a couple of centimeters have come down, the bright and clean snow covers the ugliness of bare trees and dirty sidewalks.

The kids run outside to build the first snowman of the year, throw snowballs at their father and even pull out a shovel to clean the front walkway and driveway. In my neighbourhood, everyone cleans the sidewalks and driveways quickly after the first snow. It’s as though we are all excited to experience the first taste of the fresh winter season.

Matthew shovelling us out following a 2016 winter storm

Turn on the radio or flick on the TV and the broadcasters are muttering the warnings of a “special weather statement.” An Arctic low is approaching that will combine with a system that formed in the Gulf of Mexico, which will bring plunging temperatures, high wind and snow accumulation. Make sure the winter tires are on. Fill the tank with gas. Take out the winter boots, hats and gloves. Get ready.

The first snow of the season has arrived in Southern Ontario. Some areas north of Toronto already have a significant accumulation of the white stuff, but I think only today we will experience our first real winter wallop. Or at least that’s what the meteorologists say on my Weather Network app. They predict that the city of Toronto will get anywhere from 5 to 15 cm of snow over the next day or so. Whatever that means.

The view to my backyard after some snow

No matter how much snow we receive, I believe that Torontonians will embrace our first real snowfall of the 2017-2018 season. Since today is December 11th, I have to figure that many people are dreaming of a white Christmas. If the temperatures stay cold and we keep getting more snow, their wish will come true.

fresh snow on the ground after a storm last year

Note that I say more snow. If you want the city of Toronto to be blanketed in white on December 25th, then I can promise you that it won’t be if we get snow today and no more for the next two weeks. You see, what quickly happens to the beautiful fluffy white snow within hours of it falling on the ground? 

It turns brown. Or grey. Or even black, when it gets really dirty.

Which is why the excitement of the first snow of the season doesn’t last long. Okay, maybe the hearty Canadians that we are, we embrace the first few snowfalls in December. But for many people, come January, the fun is over. The temperature keeps plummeting, the trees are still bare and the city is dirty.

But the first snow also means that winter activities can begin. What’s your fancy? Skiing? Snowboarding? Skating? Sledding? For me, it’s skiing. Stay tuned for what I’m sure will be many posts over the coming months about my skiing adventures.

I am a Third-Generation Weather Watcher


Sun, rain, snow, sleet, hail, hot, cold – it doesn’t matter to me. I just love to monitor the weather. If a TV remote control could have The Weather Network on speed dial I would program it. I have to settle for it on my favourites list. I start my day with a check of the weather and monitor it closely throughout the day. Of course before I go to bed at night I check one more time.

Modern technology only encourages my obsession, with live updates on various websites and of course my favourite, an endless choice of apps on my smartphone. I am partial to The Weather Network app, though I am sure many others will show me the weather patterns in other great ways. With GPS, not only will my app tell me the exact conditions outside my door, but I can keep up to date on what’s happening in Auckland, Hong Kong, Halifax and Paris too!

I come by this love quite naturally. One could say it’s genetic. I have fond memories as a child first checking the weather in the newspaper with my maternal grandfather, then when cable TV became popular, sitting with him on the couch as we watched the weather channel like it was the new feature movie. Even though the content repeated itself over and over, my grandfather’s attention never wavered. It amazed me how focused he was on the day’s temperature and how much rain to expect.

My grandfather passed this love down to his daughter, my mother. My mother often organizes her daily activities around the weather forecast and will call me, text me or email me news and updates when an exciting system is approaching. For my mother, there is nothing better than a massive thunderstorm that lights the sky in the valley across from our country home.I enjoy the beauty of a big snowfall in January, dense fog that takes over the sky in October, a big thunder and lightning show in July or a bright sunny day in May. What weather system is coming next? What is the temperature outside my window right now?

I often like to photograph changing weather conditions. It could be the blueness of a bright sunny day, snow, rain or fog. The changing colours of the sky at sunset are always a treat, especially when it’s what my husband’s family calls a “fake-o sunset.” That’s when it rains all day then suddenly, as evening approaches, the sky clears and you see a magnificent sunset. The sky tricks you into thinking that it was a beautiful day but really up until minutes ago it was too foggy to see anything.

Pea-sized hail in my backyard yesterday
A fabulous downpour with dense fog in New Zealand
A fabulous summer sunset
Ice and snow from the sky and on the road
Mix sunshine and rain and you get a rainbow

So far, I have not seen this dominant gene appear in any of my children, but there is still time. My son does ask me what to wear each morning based on the weather, so maybe he is my best hope. I will start working on him now. In the meantime, I need to check my app to see today’s and tomorrow’s weather.

Are you a weather watcher? Does it run in your family? Do you have any cool photographs of a weather event? Post your comments here, or post a photo or comment to me on Facebook or Tweet me @AliciaRichler.