Western New York goes from epic blizzard to a full thaw within days
By Andrew Harris
I was born in the blizzard of 1977. My childhood memories are filled with very wintery winters, piles of snow, and what seemed like months of below freezing weather. By Thanksgiving it was winter, and it didn’t start thawing out until March.
The first change I can really remember was the December of 1996. That month looked like this from Wunderground.com:
I can remember play golf(actually flog) near Christmas and enjoying many days over 50F degrees. In my weather-memory of about four decades, this was the end of typical winters. Since then it seems like a annual guessing game: Will this be a rough winter or a mild one? Will be have enough snow for snowmobiles this year? Will the pond freeze hard enough for ice skating?
This winter has been extraordinary already. The blizzard of 2022 was, at least for Buffalo NY, much worse than 1977. Yesterday it was 53 and felt like a nice late spring day, today plan on 55 and rain. The ten day forecast will barely dip below freezing into mid-January, from Wunderground.com:
The mild weather is like one of those very friendly guests you welcome into your home but then wish you hadn’t because smell badly. The decreased home heating bills, the lack of ice, and the increased time outside are all big upsides to this wacky weather. But it is the serious, long-term downsides that worry me. Will the wildfires in Steuben county this November become the new normal ?
Many of our ecosystems key food crops need permafrost to reproduce. Acorns are a prime example: Oak trees can’t reproduce without being frozen before germination. Many temperate fruit trees like apple also require a hard freeze to keep thier life cycle going. Despite that recent blizzard and sub-zero temperatures, we have no permafrost in Allegany County today. This could have big implications for wildlife and humans alike.
Another big part of our natural world, and something that directly impacts us all, face biological catastrophe: Bugs. Just the opposite of some plant life, bugs need an extended hard freeze to maintain healthy populations. No long cold winter = gnats, fleas, ticks, mosquito, aphid overpopulation. Besides being a nuisance for us humans, seeing a cabbage moth fluttering around in January is not good news. Our good friend John Dolan, out on his first hike of the new year also reported his first tick of the year. One could conclude that mild winters = more Lyme’s disease. Invasive bugs that have become a blight on our forests like the hemlock-wolly adelgid or the emerald ash-borer obtain a real advantage during mild winters. The typical die-off of whitetail deer during winter never happens, weakening the whole herd. The examples go on and on.
The question this week isn’t a climate change debate but a general inquiry. Is this the new normal or a multi-decade anomoly of weather? Will be go back to the winters I grew up with or will winter now be a rollercoaster of weather extremes ?
Do you have a little weather geek in you too? Wunderground.com is a great resource for historical data and forecasting.
Thank you to Hart’s Jewelry on Main Street Wellsville for sponsoring our weekly poll. Visit them online or stop in the shop to see what is currently in the case. Don’t forget that Hart’s does appraisals, jewelry cleaning, custom designs, and they buy gold and jewelry!!