Snow and cold! November really gets us acclimatized to the return of “Old Man Winter,” doesn’t it? And yet, sometimes November weather can surprise us.
For example, on November 5, 1975, the temperature in Winnipeg reached an incredible 24°C. In non-meteorological terms, that’s summer-like. It was the highest November temperature ever recorded in the city.
Just a year later, Winnipeg had the driest November since weather records began back in 1872. Precipitation was only 0.8 millimetres. Again, in non-scientific terms, that’s hardly any. In fact, no measureable rain or snow fell for 47 days from October 8 to November 24, 1976, the longest ever dry spell for that period. Even drier than prohibition.
Maybe we’ll get lucky this winter and have the mild El Niño weather pattern return. Cross your frost-bitten fingers.
One thing is sure, whatever the weather, it’s the No.1 topic of conversation.
Harry and Charlie, sage observers of weather, were having a battle of seasonal jokes and Charlie said, “You know, the only thing that lasts longer than nine months of pregnancy is six months of winter.”
Harry countered with, “Yeah, and people would be more satisfied with their walk in life if they didn’t have to shovel it.”
Charlie won this round of weather whimsy with the following tale: “Back in the ’50s when I was up north, it was so cold one night the power failed and we had to use candles. But the candles froze in the cold and we couldn’t blow them out. In fact, it was such a frigid night, the words came out of our mouths in pieces of ice, and we had to melt them to find out what the heck we were talking about.”
November 6, 1987 — A gigantic ice sheet broke away from Antarctica. This one made the Titanic iceberg look like something from a drinking glass. It was 225 metres thick and larger than the province of P.E.I. Scientists estimated that the ice sheet had enough water in it to supply a city the size of Los Angeles for nearly 700 years. That would put an end to drought talk, wouldn’t it?
November 6, 1814 — the birth of Adolphe Sax. Now, let’s try to guess what he invented? That’s right, the saxaphone.
November 11 — Remembrance Day. A day to pay tribute to Canadians lost or wounded on the battlefield. Why November 11th? That’s the anniversary of the end of First World War. The armistice was signed at the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918.
Trivia lovers: did you ever here the story of how Lili Marlene, the popular Second World War song, came to be a hit? It was an accident. The song was recorded by a German singer in 1939, but it only sold 700 copies, and Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels hated it, believing the singer, Lale Andersen, was sympathetic to Jews, resulting in it being banned from the airwaves. As fate would have it, shells destroyed most of the records used by Radio Belgrade, but a music director found a few intact records in a box and among them was Lili Marlene, which he played and it became a popular hit with German soldiers in North Africa and later with the Allied servicemen who heard the German broadcasts. Its popularity with Afrika Korps troops forced Goebbels to retract his earlier ban.
November 16, 1966 — It was on this night that one of history’s most spectacular meteor showers was recorded. During one 20-minute period, 2,300 meteors per minute streaked across the Arizona sky. By the way, mid-November annually produces a meteor shower, which is not as dazzling as the one in 1966, but still worth enjoying on a crisp, clear night.
November 18, 1931 — Canada's highest wind speed was recorded. Sounds like a TSN feature: “Hi everyone! Well, we’re all set for the annual Canadian Wind Speed Championship. It’s a beautiful breezy day here. The crowd is anticipating some great gusts.”
Well, anyway, the wind speed was 200 km/h (126 mph) at Cape Hope’s Advance in Quebec, a town that must have been airborne on that day.
November 22, 1963 — The day U.S. President John Kennedy was assassinated.
November 22 to 25, 2012 — The 100th Grey Cup celebration in Toronto.
Try this one: Name the post-war football teams who have won the Grey Cup three times in a row (answer at the end of the column).
November 30 — St. Andrews Day. St. Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, which brings us to this whimsy: A little girl was watching a Scotsman playing the bagpipes and she walked over to him and said, “You know, if you don’t hold on to that thing so tightly, it will probably stop screaming.”
Grey Cup answer
• Toronto won three times in a row in 1945, 1946 and 1947.
• Edmonton did it in 1954, 1955 and 1956. They also won it five times in a row in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982.
• And what about our Blue Bombers? Well, they’ve won it often, of course, but not three times in a row. They were awfully close, though, when they won the Grey Cup in 1958 and 1959, missed in 1960, and then won again in 1961 and 1962. More recently, the Blue Bombers won it 1984, 1988 and 1990.