“The winter than never was” has become “the spring that came too soon.” If this new weather trend continues, it may be the end of the expression, “March came in like a lion." Even the end of February had days that were as much as seven and eight degrees higher than average, according to an Accuweather report.
March 2012 was so mild that it was a record breaking month for the amount of record breaking days, according to almost every weather source. Searching the internet for “March weather smashed records” turned up 14,500,000 hits.
The temperature changes were not just local. Soaring temperatures were happening across the entire east coast and midwest. Last week, in South Dakota, one of the coldest places in the country, temperatures hit 94 degrees according to the World Weather Post.
Stu Ostro, senior director of Weather Communications for the Weather Channel has long been known to dispel any belief in climate change, but even he is starting to change his tune. In one article, Ostro was quoted as saying, "In recent years I've documented hundreds of extreme and/or unusual weather events nationally and globally, but this one is even freaking me out with the nature of the air mass, clouds and downpours yesterday and today, and how the sky has looked so tropical, where I live in the Atlanta area – in mid-March. It's surreal.”
According to the World Weather Post, “With so many records being shattered, it is difficult to cover in detail just how widespread, long-lasting, and extreme the event is.”
So how does this effect people in Connecticut? Well, at the very least, you can expect maple syrup prices to go up. By most reports, local producers only tapped about 60% of what they usually get.
Bill Hill, of Warrups Farm in Redding, explained that the season to tap the trees usually starts towards the end of February and lasts until the end of March. “The peak of the season is usually now. Last year, with all the snow, it started later and went into April. This year the season started in January. We started tapping the trees late, the last two weeks in February, and it's already over.”
agreed that the timing for tapping his trees had changed dramatically. “We got most of our maple syrup in January. The best days were right after the super bowl.”
The Weather.gov weather map shows that due to the winter's lack of snow, CT is "abnormally dry." However, it was worse from September through December of 2011 than it is now.
The lack of moisture and freezing temperatures have been easier on Bethel roads, and have reduced the number of potholes drivers usually encounter at this time of year. Andrew Morosky, town engineer, gives a full explanation why.
“Normally in the winter, frost penetrates the ground two to three feet or more. When water freezes, it expands and when this expansion occurs in soil, it is not always uniform, because the underlying material changes constantly. Traffic running over an imperfection in the road surface is like a hammer repeatedly hitting a rock; it might not break the rock at first, but eventually the rock will be pulverized.”
Morosky said that this winter, the frost never got deep enough into the ground, and the effects were much less severe. “What also helped a great deal was that we invested over $1.3 million to repave miles of road last year, and many of these roads had pothole problems every year.”
On the down side, as a result of low humidity and occassional high winds, the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) announced that the Forest Fire Danger Level is currently very high and that weather conditions will cause any brush fires to spread rapidly.
It remains to be seen whether or not the warm trend will last throughout the summer. If it does, having a winter snow storm in October may not seem nearly as unusual as it did last year.