Latvia's Precipitation of the Year revealed

Take note – story published 1 year and 2 months ago

In the recent past we've brought the exciting news of the bird of the year, the animal of the year, the moss of the year, the invertebrate of the year, the word (and non-word) of the year, and everyone's favorite, the mushroom of the year. The start of April brings another one for the list, with the eagerly-anticipated announcement of the Precipitation of the Year.

For 2023 the honor goes to... freezing rain! That was the decision made by the expert jury of the Latvian Association of Meteorology and Environment (LAME) at its annual general meeting and awards ceremony.

Latvian freezing rain or 'sasalstošs lietus' is a difficult thing to describe in English. It's not normal rain, and it's certainly not snow. It's less impactful than hail, but somehow more aggressive than sleet. You'd expect it to be somewhat akin to freezing fog, but it's not, possessing none of the romantic inclinations of that element, being far more brutal and immediate. The same goes for hoar frost. It's not that. It's quite possible that it only falls in Latvia, or in the Latvian soul.

Its most notable consequence, apart from making you feel particularly miserable, is to turn all steps, roads and walkways into vast accident blackspots and fill the emergency rooms of every hospital in the country as quicky as possible.

Unsurprisingly then, its selection as Precipitation of the Year has already proven controversial, even among the ranks of LAME membership.

Former LAME President Norberts Riekstiņš called for an enquiry into the selection process, telling LSM: "Well, now then, you see, let's say I was shocked when they announced that freezing rain was the precipitation of the year. Yes, shocked is the word. And disappointed. Shocked and disappointed. Also a bit scandalized. Shocked, disappointed and scandalized. That would, let's say, sum up my feelings.

"I expected drizzle to win this year. I still have good contacts within the meteorology community and I was led to believe that drizzle would be named for 2023. But it wasn't. I'll be honest with you, I was so confident I even bet 50 euros online on drizzle winning. I'm a pensioner. Fifty euros is a lot of money to me. I got good odds, too, I would have made 500 euros. But then, all of a sudden, it's freezing rain that is named instead. It seems a bit, let's say, suspicious to me. I think there should be a public inquiry."

However, current LAME President Alvis Čiekurs strongly denied there had been anything suspicious about the manner in which freezing rain had been selected ahead of alternative forms of precipitation by the LAME expert jury consisting of himself, his sister Marija Lazdiņa and her husband Alfons Lazdiņš.

Speaking to LSM from the Bahamas, where he is currently enjoying a family holiday, Čiekurs said:

"Look, if someone is silly enough to put money on such a thing, what can they expect? As they say in Balvi, 'If you can't afford to lose your socks, don't bet your shoes'! It's true that drizzle was in the running for a while, but the deliberations of the jury are confidential.

"You can't go around believing every little whisper or every little text message that you think has been sent to you by mistake. If you believe such things you must take the consequences. Besides, odds of ten to one are just greedy, you're better off with shorter odds, say three or four to one, enough to buy a little treat for yourself and your loved ones," Čiekurs told LSM from a Caribbean beach resort. 



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