Weatherfear hype machine shrieks into action


Here’s a Facebook post from CTV news that came across my feed shortly before noon. Two friends, both Nova Scotians, shared it, and within an hour, 1,000 other Facebook users had done so.

It warns of a “major storm system coming to… (the) Maritimes.”  The accompanying photo shows citizens digging out from a horrific snowfall, with cars buried in snow along a snow-clogged street.

A few contrary facts:

  • There’s no indication when or where the unidentified scare photo was taken. It could be Moose Jaw, 1982. It is most certainly not from the storm being warned about.
  • As best I can tell, that storm is currently affecting Atlanta GA, 2,180 km. southwest of Halifax.
  • As of 1 p.m. AST, it’s raining in Atlanta, which is not surprising given the temperature, 17ºC.
  • Environment Canada has issued 100 “special weather statements” (its lowest category of weather alerts) about the pending storm: 48 covering various parts of southern Quebec; 32 covering areas of sourtheastern Ontario; and 20 covering all of New Brunswick. That’s right: 100 alerts.
  • There are currently no weather alerts of any kind for Nova Scotia, where the EC’s long-range forecast predicts rain on Wednesday and Thursday.

How bad will it be in New Brunswick? Here’s one of the alerts:

On Wednesday a low pressure system will approach from the southwest. Snow will develop ahead of the low and then change to rain over southern sections Wednesday evening. The snow may change to a period of freezing rain over northern sections before changing to rain late Wednesday night or Thursday morning. The rain will persist through the day Thursday and may be heavy at times over southwestern portions of the province. The public is advised that warnings for snowfall, freezing rain and/or rainfall may be required. Please continue to monitor alerts and forecasts issued by Environment Canada.

Digging deeper, and discover that, for Wednesday, EC predicts snow in Fredericton and Moncton, snow mixed with rain in Saint John, and rain throughout Nova Scotia. On Thursday, it predicts rain in all three provinces.

By contrast, the excellent European weather site,, which provides worldwide forecasts without EC’s hysterical exaggeration, leans more toward rain on both days in both provinces, with possible trace amounts of snow before the changeover in Fredericton and Moncton.

In other words, we’re likely to get a typical late winter storm, with snow beginning late Wednesday in parts of New Brunswick, before changing to rain throughout the province, followed by rain throughout New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on Thursday.

This is nothing remotely like the false picture presented by CTV’s weatherfear Facebook post.

Readers may want to start making plans now for where you’re going to stash the kids during the inevitable school closures, because, you know, “think of the children,” “better safe than sorry,” and “if only one accident is avoided…”