El Niño, watching neighbours impale themselves on shovel handles, and enough snow to cover all the dog poop in your yard
Colin Wallace | On 01, Dec 2015
What is El Niño?
The Spanish definition is ‘Little Boy’ or Christ Child’. I don’t get it. What I do get is that the meteorological definition is “an irregularly occurring and complex series of climatic changes affecting the equatorial Pacific region.” In a nutshell, it can be explained like this. The trade winds going from the Americas to Asia along the equator blow the top layer of warmer water across the Pacific Ocean; the top layer of water is replaced with colder water from below. The warmer water creates monsoon season in the east and dryer, colder weather in the west. However, every few years when El Niño drops in, the trade winds slow down and reduce the warm water transfer thus keeping the warmer weather with more precipitation in the west.
How does this affect people?
If you are a homeless person living in LA, you might want to consider moving your shopping cart to higher ground; LA generally receives drizzles but El Niño brings downpours causing flash floods filling storm sewers and drainage ditches within minutes (where homeless people like to reside). El Niño is good news for city officials combating the current drought that is straining the Los Angeles drinking water reservoirs. What were they doing to combat the evaporation of the water? They were tossing their balls in the water. That’s right, 96 million black plastic balls were meow introduced to the reservoirs to absorb the sun’s heat and slow down the evaporation process. With the precipitation expected from El Niño, city officials can start pulling their balls out of the water.
Here are a few of my favourite things to watch for around town resulting from the first big snowfall of the season:
People falling down. Especially when they’re carrying a tray or plate with loose items on it. Posting up outside of a potluck dinner party after you hosed the sidewalk down with water will guarantee some carnage.
Someone driving down the street with a 60ft extension cord attached to the block heater on their truck. Bonus point if it drags far enough behind that another truck runs it over and rips the block heater out of the motor causing a geyser of boiling coolant to cover the road. Good times.
Running with the snow shovel so the snow kinda snowblowers itself and you don’t have to do the scoop ‘n’ toss into the snowbank. This usually ends one of two ways when you hit a crack in the driveway: You are using a plastic shovel and it disintegrates into like a zillion pieces rendering it useless. Or. You are using a metal shovel and the handle impales you in the gut, leaving you gasping for air in a heap on the ground. Both are incredibly funny outcomes when you are watching it happen to someone else across the street from the safety of your living room.
Being late for work and you don’t have time to scrape the windshield. Non-issue. See that little windshield washer thingy on the steering column? Hit it. Hit it and hold it on till 4 liters of washer fluid has been drained onto your windshield. With any luck the electric motor in the pump will start glowing red hot and burn a hole through the plastic washer fluid reservoir.
Going out to grab some firewood in your pajamas and bare feet and dropping a log on your toes and it hurts so much more because it’s so cold. If all goes well you just finished cutting your toenails and hopefully you cut one a little too short and on impact with the log it explodes like a ketchup bottle run over by a truck.
When it snows enough that an entire summer’s worth of dog poop in the backyard is covered. Saves me from having to pick it up and throw it over the fence into the neighbour’s yard.
Ending up in your own bed after walking home from the Riverhouse after a couple saucy pops with the fellas and you take 5 in a snowbank but it’s too cold to lay there for any longer than 45 mins to an hour before you wake up with pneumonia or hypothermia. ‘Cause if it was summer you probably would have slept the entire night in some kid’s sandbox and woke up to a filthy ditch cat pawing at your eyeballs while you mouthbreathe with your hand down your pants.
Belly flop contests off the roof into the snowbank with no shirt. Pants optional. If you just corked a 15 sac of Pil, try to miss the pile of shovels and rakes leaning up against the fence.