Winter is here.

Actually, that may not be officially the case until Dec. 21, but it might as well be considering the vast amount of snow to be dropped on Meadow Lake and area in recent weeks.

“We’ve been very busy – we have a lot of customers in town here, as well as quite a few on acreages – there certainly is a lot of snow,” remarked Louis Hebert, who owns and operates a local snow removal business.

According to Hebert, however, the copious amount of snow isn’t the only reason he’s been working long hours as of late.

“Normally we run three machines, but one is down at the moment,” he added. “With the pandemic and everything, it makes it even harder to get parts. We’ve been waiting for parts to arrive for a while now, and have been having to put in even more hours as a result.”

He also said there isn’t many places to put the snow once it’s plowed.

“Where we haul all the snow to – close to the Backwater Creek – everything is pretty much plugged up already between everything we have hauled, as well as what the city has hauled,” he said. “Usually by this time of year that spot is only about a quarter full.”

According to Sara Hoffman, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, the average snowfall for the month of December from 1980-2010 (the most accurate and up-to-date info available) was 22.6 centimetres. That correlates to about 19 millimetres of precipitation.

“Unofficially, the airport made a few observations,” Hoffman said with regard to the recent snowfall experienced locally. “However, the airport in Meadow Lake does not run 24/7, so it’s likely we missed a little bit of snowfall here and there so any estimates are very conservative.”

From these readings, about eight centimetres of snow fell Dec. 8. Meanwhile, the snow covering on the ground went up about 17 centimetres Nov. 16 and 17. The 30-year average for November is 21 centimetres.

“Again, these recent snowfall totals are very hand-wavy,” Hoffman said. “It isn’t something to throw away but something to be careful with and not use the numbers in any official capacity.”

Hoffman went on to say weather patterns are currently being impacted by a La Niña – a teleconnection from the ocean that can affect weather here in Canada.
“It’s a climate driver that can affect our winter,” she added.

She also said, if December is really snowy for the remainder of the month, it could lead to above-average numbers.

“But, reflecting back on November it seems to be in keeping with what we expect for the season total,” she said.

Still, as Hebert said, it’s a lot of snow.

“There were times recently when I have gone 30 hours straight non-stop,” he said. “That first snowfall we had, from Monday to Friday I had 18 hours sleep.”

Hebert also said it’s important the public understand moving snow isn’t a quick and easy job.

“It’s a lot of work and I hope everyone appreciates what everybody does when they move snow – even to keep the streets clear,” he said. “It’s a lot of late hours and a lot of early mornings. Many people do get frustrated because they don’t realize how long it takes to do this kind of thing.”

by Phil Ambroziak