A metre of snow in April

There’s precedent.

1885 saw a major April snow event in Ottawa. 30.5 cm reported on the 2nd, 30.6 cm on the 3rd and another 30.5 cm on the 4th. Over 1 metre in total in 52 hours. It tapered off to 6.4 cm the following day, and 50.8 mm of rain on the 6th.

Sparks Street, 6 April 1885, Samuel J. Jarvis/Library and Archives Canada, C-002186

There’s remarkably little coverage in the Ottawa Citizen. Easter Sunday was 5 April and newspapers were preoccupied with the Riel uprising. There was mention of employing extra staff to clear roofs at Lansdowne Park and cancellation of events as guests could not get into the city.

The Ottawa Citizen ran this poem referring to astrometeorologist Ezekiel Stone Wiggins.

(For The Citizen.)

Heavy storm began at Ottawa 9 am. April 2; still raging, 6 pm, Apnl 3; snowfall, 24 Inches ; by far the greatest of the year.

N.B.—No warning from Wiggine.

O Wiggins, O! delusive prophet Wiggins !
Though your very dubious fame has spread
The behaviour of the weather in those diggins (sic)
Plainly tells us your pretensions are a fraud.

That rude March would have his equinoctial bluster
It was safe for any almanac to say ;
But if special storm predictions would pass muster,
They must specify the place and name the day.

Scaring honest peorle living by the ocean,
Threatening tempests which neglected to appear ;
You malcted (?) sailors, chiefly Nova Scotia,
A badly needed fortnight’s wage last year.

And now, Wiggins, what on earth have you been doing,
Say where’s your vaunted skill in Zadkeil lore,
While ‘neath your very nose a storm was brewing,
The like of which we’ve rarely seen betore.

Yet not a whisper from our Mahdi prophet!
Our oracle of Ottawa was dumb!
If still you stride the tripod, pray get off it —
Collapse, subside, come down, ah, Wiggins, come.

We railway travellers had from you no warning.
Driifts bar our progress, engines shrick in vain ;
Here we must shiver tiil to-morrow morning—
sweet our revenge if you were on our train.

Too long imposed on women of both sexes,
ln time the errant humbug to explode,
Which reasonable people often vexes.
You gales foretell— Pshaw, Wiggins, you “be blowed “!

Two feet of snow-fall! Wild nor’-easter blowing ! .
The third of April. Storms defy all rule.
No hint from Wiggins. Needs there further  showing : ;
That weather wisdom makes its April fools?

Note:  Significantly less snow was recorded on those April 1885 days at the Experimental Farm station. Snowfall is notoriously difficult to quantify.

3 Replies to “A metre of snow in April”

  1. That’s a LOT of snow!!! I can’t imagine how long it took to clear the streets without our modern snow-clearing technology.

    Having grown up in Ottawa, I well remember April storms and how vicious they can be.

  2. It is always obvious that you were a weather guy. Personally, I am not going anywhere today. Cheers, BT

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