The spookiest thing about October thus far is how remarkably warm it has been. A straight three weeks of sunshine and beautiful fall weather was a little unsettling for me. While this is my first autumn in the Elk Valley, I just kept thinking, “Is this for real?”
But apparently it’s like that across the province. The normally wet and stormy Vancouver has been relatively sunny and dry. The West Kootenay experienced as nice of days as we had, and overall, October has looked like a scene out of a picturesque fairytale.
I grew up in the West Kootenay area and we had to trick or treat through the snow. I remember getting seething angry with my mother every time she tried to stuff my snowsuit under my cute Halloween costume so I didn’t get frozen during the trek for candy. In the end, she would win and I would sulk around the neighbourhood as a plump Little Boo Peep with purple snow boots on.
It has been getting colder, especially at night, but on average Environment Canada said that the Elk Valley is five degrees warmer on average with a third of the precipitation that we normally get in October – usually we see 21 mm of precipitation during this month, but this year we have just barely broken seven mm. The numbers are backing up what we are experiencing – an abnormally warm autumn.
While the warm weather has been welcomed and enjoyed, it can be perceived as the scariest thing this month, including the spookiest occasion of the year. It’s not the idea of ghosts, witches or vampires that frightens me but the idea that kids will be able to dress up as them in tank tops and flip-flops within a decade.
That might be a gross exaggeration and this autumn may be an anomaly of a season, but climate change is the nightmare that is slowly becoming a reality. Ten years ago, climate change was mostly treated as hearsay, with deniers discrediting the argument by simply pointing at snow. There are still deniers these days, such as James Inhofe, the Republican Senator from Oklahoma who lobbed a snowball in the Senate in February in an attempt to disprove climate change. But as the seasons get noticeably warmer, that argument is getting more difficult to make.
The Elk Valley, and particularly Fernie, will feel the impacts of climate change more than other communities. The world-class skiing that attracts tourists and seasonal workers from around the world won’t be nearly as attractive if the hills don’t have the snow. And the loss of winter skiers will send a ripple effect across the Elk Valley, impacting everything. That could be the backdrop for a Stephen King novel.
We don’t have to panic, at least not yet. According to Environment Canada, we are going to be experiencing El Nino this year, which will bring more moisture into the area, and November is forecasted to bring some of the precipitation that October was lacking. But what I hope for most is that when it comes time to take my child trick or treating, I’m stuffing her snowsuit under her costume and she will be the grumpiest and plumpest pumpkin that ever was.