It’s been a wild summer without mosquitoes

This week's Hammer Column looks at the weather, no mosquitos and a wild and weird season.

It’s been a wild summer without mosquitoes

It certainly has been one weird and wild spring and summer for all of us so far, featuring lots of heat and sunshine followed by some vicious storms and nightly light shows, but unfortunately there has been very little rain in some areas which has resulted in severe drought conditions. On the bright side of  this summer scenario, there have been lots of great days and cooler nights enjoyed splashing around at the beach, on the golf course, at summer camps, playing all sorts of sports events, and relaxing during your annual family holiday…..all without those dreaded pesky mosquitoes..

Just about every night we have to flip on the television and check out the Weather Channel to find out just where-what-and when the wind-rumbles and rain and whatever else storm invasion might come roaring in, and then pondering as to whether we should cancel the evening tee-time or ball game, bring in those pampered potted plants or maybe even having to move the whole family into the basement. It certainly has been a dash and crash season unfortunately marred by devastating forest fires and floods, as well as overwhelming losses caused by lightning, hail, wind, sudden storms and even the appearance of a few dreaded tornadoes. Through it all, many of our vital grain and hay crops are suffering and sparse during the prime time of their growth, or have already been written off for this season.

Hopefully the month of August will be just a little more gentle weather-wise to allow the fruits of our precious environment to revitalize and mature just in time for the harvest, and to celebrate and reward the dedicated year round efforts of our hard-working farmers, ranchers,  gardeners  and, of course, fun seekers.  We all look forward to seeing the grain dust mingling with the sunset, the amazing patterns created by the teams of combines in the massive rolling fields, and the trucks hustling to fill the bins with the bountiful products of the annual harvest, of which each and every one of us depend on so much as the basis of our future progress, successes, and economy.

Please be prepared for dangerous weather.

While we hustle about or just relax and enjoy the glorious perks of a prairie summer, we must always be prepared on a 24-7 basis for those sudden storms and powerful weather phenomena that can sneak up and invade us at this time of the year. With the high-tech equipment that they have available today, our weather men and ladies can warn us about what MIGHT be coming our way a whole lot quicker and more accurately than they could when you and I were kids and had to find refuge in our underground hideouts, under the bridge, at a store, or in the neighbour’s garage when the storm hit.

Those metrological specialists suggest that we should check for weather warnings several times a day, watch the skies and seek shelter immediately if wild weather is imminent. They claim that the safest shelter is an enclosed building or hard-top vehicle, and if we are in our homes we should stay away from windows and outside walls, unplug all radios, TVs and appliances in a thunder storm, and in the event of extreme conditions and warnings, take everyone into the basement or to small interior room. It is a good idea to wait until the storm is over before calling neighbours or seeking help, but in the case of extreme emergencies the 911 help phone number is always available.

If we are caught outside in a storm, we should stay away from tall objects, trees, poles, wires, fences, and take shelter in a low lying area. DO NOT chase storms or tornadoes, as they are totally unpredictable and very dangerous, and within a split second that storm could turn around and chase the thrill-seekers.  We certainly owe a great deal of respect and appreciation to those thousands of firefighters , emergency workers and municipal employees who have rushed to our assistance during these emergencies,  whether it be in our own back yards or in the forests and communities of the far north and across the prairies. Special thanks also to the countless neighbours and friends who respond as always so quickly with help and care those who have suffered damage or distress, along with Ponoka and many other Alberta communities who have developed an ‘Emergency Disaster’ plan to care for those families who have been evacuated from their homes due to fires and floods or have become stranded because of severe weather conditions.

Have a wonderful family summer holiday wherever you may choose, but please play safe and travel prepared. In the meantime look forward to a ‘balmy August’ followed by a long ‘Indian summer’, and have a great week, all of you.