Are the winters of our discontent as cold as they used to be?
American writer Mark Twain’s famous quip "Everyone talks about the weather but no one does anything about it," was well-proven over the past week with Orange residents having plenty to say on the issue…
With the mercury hovering well into single figures and an August minimum of 2.1 on Saturday, August 10; Orange City Life put the question to freezing locals, is Orange as cold as it used to be?
With climate-change convention saying that our winters are becoming less-severe and our summers hotter; many locals dodging sleet in the “Apple City” agreed.
Orange resident since the late 1970s, Ray Miller, doesn’t believe our winters are as severe; recalling snow piled-up and stopping traffic.
”About 40 year’s ago, I remember Summer Street had so much snow that they had to get the Council graders out to push it back into the gutters; the snow had even stopped the trains from running,” he said. “I think things are definitely changing... cutting down all the trees around the world must have an effect and we’re getting a larger and larger population all the time,” he said.
Former Wolaroi College student Colin Young remembers intense periods of cold in his growing years. “I think we had more frequent periods of snow and the snow lasted longer,” he said.
But he said that improvements in our heating and clothing means extreme weather events are now easier to survive. “Central heating is so much better now; cars’ heating is so much better and clothing is so much better for the cold. This means they are much more comfortable conditions that we live in,” he suggested.
Originally from Moree, Richard Cummins believes that the weather is much the same as in his youth. “I think it’s similar. It’s easy to forget how cold it can be; people do forget that. Also, I think people feel the cold much more when they get older,” he said.
Former local Amy Villaflour grew up in Orange, moving back last year after living away for 18 years, believes that the weather extremes are growing. “I reckon it’s getting hotter and hotter in summer and colder in winter,” she said.
Visiting from Forbes and clinging to a coffee for warmth, Deborah Hailley couldn’t believe the sleet falling around Summer Street: “It’s so cold, I can’t believe it. On Saturday I went to a Show and it was 22 degrees centigrade.“
Waiting for a bus home in the sleet; Judy Lynch believes that winter’s just as cold as ever in beautiful Orange. “Yes I do; it’s bloody freezing,” she said with emphasis.
Margaret Chapman moved to Orange when she was 17 to train as a nurse and remembers winters being far more intense. “We used to have snow that would hang around for days…Our winters were much colder,” she believes.
“I remember cars would skid off Summer Street into the kerbs because of the ice covering the road,” she said.
And what do the experts say? Charles Sturt University’s Associate Professor Andrew Hall says that, taking 1976 as a base year, records at Orange Agricultural Research Station show temperatures have increased on average by about one degree centigrade over the past 43 years.
“The minimum temperatures have increased only slightly, but maximums have increased fairly significantly, nearly two degrees” he said.
And what of the spring ahead? According the Bureau of Meteorology’s September to November forecast maps, it’s not good news for hard-hit farmers battling drought.
The Central Tablelands has only about a 35 per cent chance of above-average rain, with about a 70 per cent chance of above-average temperatures. Still, as the recent cold spell has shown, we’ll still have plenty of variable weather to talk about in the future, even if there’s not a lot we can do about it!