The Ruttle Report - Weather on the Unpredictable Prairies

I didn’t want to believe the reports.

I refused to believe that it could happen.

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I swore up and down that everyone else was wrong.

Finally, I resigned myself to looking up what the next few days were going to look like on the website of the Weather Network, and there it was.

Snow.  A good amount of it.

IN SEPTEMBER.

Sure enough, I was kicking it at home on Sunday afternoon, and it started to come down.  Small little dandruff-like flakes at first, and then the heavy stuff started to fall.

And it didn’t stop.

Soon, vehicles and the grass were covered by a thin blanket, and it wasn’t long before that ‘thin blanket’ turned into a thick, layers-deep covering.  This stuff was heavy, slushy, and coming down in droves.

If snowfall during the last days of September wasn’t bizarre enough, it came with its own brand of chaos.  First it was the power, which went off all over Conquest at around 9:50 pm.  Soon, we in the Ruttle household decided we may as well go to bed.  A few hours later, I could’ve sworn that I heard the distinctive sound of a heavy tree branch cracking, followed by the inevitable sound of crashing.  However, in my sleep-heavy state, I thought I’d only imagined the sound.

When I woke up in the morning, I soon realized that sound wasn’t in my head.

Friends, Conquest may have been Ground Zero as far as any type of “regional tree tragedy” was concerned.  The heavy snowfall was sticking to the poor branches of trees everywhere, which in turn pulled them downward to the point where some branches were close to scraping the road surface.  In places where that wasn’t the case, thick branches had simply snapped like toothpicks and fell down.  Our front yard was littered, and our neighbor Alice had basically an entire tree laying horizontal across the front of her home.

As I stood in the driveway brushing snow off my SUV, the sound of cracking branches and trees succumbing to the snow became almost routine.

Fall foliage, in its delicate state after giving us bold and beautiful colors all summer, just isn’t built for the sheer weight of snow.

Soon enough, I was at the office and reading up on how everyone else had been faring; more trees downed, other communities still in the dark, helpless crops becoming blanketed, power lines coming down in Outlook and shooting sparks.  Elsewhere around the province and next door in Alberta, the snowfall was even more epic in volume, with some areas hitting as much as 10 inches or even a full foot of the white stuff.

Yep, the “Great September Snowfall” is probably one for the record books.  And hey, it probably forced a lot of us to get some heavy pruning and tree trimming done anyway.

It got me thinking about other memorable storms that brought their own forms of fury and rage.

There was the ridiculous windstorm back in April 2010 that touched down in the area, particularly around Conquest.  The gusts were so strong that they ended up tearing a good chunk out of the roof of the old Pioneer grain elevator.  That may not sound like a big deal to you because hey, it’s an old building that hadn’t been used for the longest time, but that one actually hit a little close to home because my dad served as an agent for the Pioneer brand at that very building for 28 years between 1964 and 1992.  I remember heading home from my mom’s bar after lunch and breaking the news to Jack that the old girl had “a little taken off the top”.  To his credit, he managed to downplay how upset he was, but that changed when we ended up taking a drive and I showed him what the wind had done to the building.  He looked up, saw what Mother Nature had done to the building he called his “work home” for nearly 30 years, and just sighed and shook his head.

Almost a decade later, the Pioneer elevator still stands with “a little off the top”.

There was also the rager of a summer wind and rainstorm that blasted through the region two summers ago in July.  Yes, it’s the one that ended up leveling the Strongfield curling rink, and it’s the one that played a deadly hand in taking the lives of two people in the waters of Lake Diefenbaker.  It’s also the storm in which I was prevented from entering the village of Conquest on my way to my house, so I actually had to turn around, drive back up to Highway 15, cruise over to the other access road, and make my way back into town.

Mother Nature can be so devilishly cruel.

Here’s hoping this week’s “autumn snowfall” was the last of it until a more ‘appropriate’ time on the calendar.

Well, I better go clean some trees.

For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.

© The Outlook

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