Snow has been a no-show for some traditionally wintry cities
Snow has been a no-show for some traditionally wintry cities
BOSTON (AP) — Growing up in New England, Leah Offsevitt’s most cherished childhood memories were covered in snow. He remembers running outside with his brother in bare feet at the first sign of it, building snowmen and ice castles most winters, strapping on skis like a small child.
Ofcevitt and her husband, Jeremy Garcinski, want to pass those traditions on to their children, Louise, 3, and Asher, 8 months. They were hoping this would be the year: Miniature skis were purchased for Louise, and they planned to ski their favorite Massachusetts ski trails while pulling Ashe behind them on a sled.
But the three months of winter, as March approaches, their skis and sleds mostly gather dust. He doesn’t like it at all.
“It’s not what I envisioned for my kids,” said Ofsevit, who was on her high school’s cross-country ski team and lives in Melrose, just outside Boston. “Such a big part of being a kid in New England.”
In much of the eastern United States, from Massachusetts all the way to West Virginia and Ohio, winter has been a bust. when parts of the Midwest Repeatedly struck with blizzards, A lot of California including Los Angeles Got the blanket late And even saw the southwest part Blizzard conditions nearbyMany east coast cities have been missed.
Boston, known for nasty nor’easters and blizzards last year About two feet of snow fell The city saw just 11 inches last week, compared to an average of 38.6, according to National Weather Service data. Philadelphia received just 0.3 inches compared to an average of 19.2. New York, which usually gets more than two feet by now, saw only 2.2 inches. Similar shortages were seen in Providence, Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C. and parts of West Virginia.
There are exceptions, such as Buffalo, which was walled off by lake-effect storms in November, as cold air lifted moisture from warmer lakes. Still, says David Robinson, a Rutgers University geography professor and New Jersey state climatologist: “For the most part, it’s a cold winter.”
A big reason for not having snow It’s been warm, Robinson says — a situation driven by human-induced climate change. The Northeast is among the fastest warming regions in the country.
The region received a lot of rain, but it was often too warm for snow to fall. Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Vermont all had their warmest Januarys on record, while Indiana, New York and Pennsylvania had their second warmest, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
But other factors are at play.
La Niña, which involves a large-scale cooling sea surface temperature, has led to unusually cold conditions in the eastern Pacific. As a result, the jet stream, which would have brought cooler conditions to the region, kept that air closer to the Canadian border instead of descending northeast.
The polar vortex, which spins like a spinning top over the North Pole, was strong until mid-January, bottling up cold air in Canada, according to Judah Cohen, who studies the relationship between the polar vortex and weather and is director of seasonal forecasting for Verisk AER.
It may become the new normal. The Weather Service analyzed 2019 snowfall totals in the contiguous United States and found that states’ totals were farthest from their average on the East Coast as of mid-February.
For many who pride themselves on thriving in New England winters, the unusually warm conditions are confusing and downright frustrating. The four seasons are gone and the scenes many have long associated with winter — backyards, covered in trees and piled in mounds on street corners and parking lots.
Instead, the landscape is brown grass, muddy backyards and early spring flowers.
“When I retired, I thought winter would be my happy time because I would be able to ski when I wanted, be outside….enjoy everything that comes with winter,” Leah Offsevitt’s mother, Nancy Mazsonson. “It’s not beautiful outside… it’s not mysterious. It’s just the same old same old except for the snow magic.”
Carolyn Nagy moves with her husband from New York City to upstate Troy, New York in anticipation of a cold and snowy winter. It did not turn out as he expected. “A warm month is one thing,” Nagy says, “but a warm winter is scary.”
Warm conditions are especially difficult for traditional winter sports.
Cross-country ski trails are not open in many places. Ice skaters have abandoned the backyard pond. Some ski resorts, especially those that rely on natural snow, have struggled to stay open. In Pennsylvania, Whitetail Resort has already closed for the season; Cherry Creek, New York, Cockaigne Resort announced on its webpage that it is closing due to warm temperatures and rain. And a popular 216-mile sled dog race in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was canceled due to inclement weather for the first time in its 33-year history.
“Wherever it was already thin, now it’s frozen over,” said Darlene Walch, president of the Upper Peninsula Sled Dog Association. “When the snow pack becomes saturated, it freezes and turns into concrete. It’s not good for dogs, and it’s hard for mushers to control their sleds.”
According to NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Michigan, many lakes and ponds remain unfrozen, including the Great Lakes, where less than 12% of the surface area was covered by ice in early March. The historical average for this time of year is around 40%.
As a result, ice fishing tournaments from Maine to Pennsylvania have been canceled. Several people fell into the snow. Including three fishermen who died in one week In Lake Champlain, Vermont.
The lack of winter symptoms wasn’t all bad. Spring-like conditions have been a boon for bike commuters. Golfers have been spotted on courses that, this time of year, usually host skiers. The tennis courts are busy on warm days, and the playground is filled with children.
Cities such as Boston, Philadelphia and New York are expected to save millions of dollars in snow removal budgets. Connecticut’s 169 cities and towns traditionally use their entire snow budgets at the end of winter, but Kevin Maloney, spokesman for the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, said that this year, “budgets are virtually untouched.”
Robinson, a New Jersey climatologist, said the snow isn’t going away anytime soon. “There is no sign of a decline in major events,” he says. “There’s starting to be some evidence that we’re having fewer smaller events.”
Yet for small businesses that plow parking lots and salt roads, it’s been tough.
“I personally have never been through a winter like this,” said Jordan Kenyon, co-owner of two snow management businesses in Mystic, Connecticut. Typically, they plan for 10 storms along the southeastern Connecticut coastline and 15 inland events. This year, he says, his crews have only been out a few times to spread salt and plowed just once.
Despite this year’s snow-challenged winter, Kenyon said he’s not counting out the snow removal part of his business.
“It’s always going to snow at some point. And so, we don’t see the business model changing,” he says. “But if we see this pattern continuing, we may have to make operational adjustments.”
Associated Press writers Susan High in Hartford, John Fleischer in Traverse City, Michigan, Mason Kahn in Albany, New York and Ron Todd in Philadelphia contributed to this report. Follow Michael Casey on Twitter at http://twitter.com/mcasey1
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