December 2008 will be "remembered" in the Pacific Northwest for a winter blizzard, deemed unexpected by the media while breaking 40-year records in some parts. Here in Vancouver, a little bit of snow can halt all traffic. With up to 30 inches on the ground, the city was shut down. TV news reports claim that there are only a few dozen snow plows for the city: we were unprepared even though we've had a few other major snowstorms in the last 20 years.
As climate change increases the severity and frequency of atypical weather, will we collectively take a more risk-adverse view? Will we learn some of the lessons espoused by the Black Swan in financial markets (that severe events happen more often than we think)? Or will we, in the future, simply accept the consequences and perhaps, if taken to the extreme, live with what would be thought of today as an unusually rigorous defiance of the elements? I'll provide updates the next time I see a major snowfall in Vancouver.
Though frankly, I'll be shocked if it ever snows like this again.