Experts Say Warm Winter Could Lead To A Hot, Buggy Spring
If there's one thing New Yorkers talked about on Tuesday, the first official day of spring, it's what happened to winter and what the unusually warm weather means for the seasons ahead. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
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After a surprising snowfall just before Halloween, winter passed by with most New Yorkers waiting for it to start. It never did.
"It's certainly abnormally low compared to a normal winter," says Dr. Benjamin Cook, a climate modeler at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
The snowfall was just 4.5 inches for all of December, January and February. This was a radical shift from the past two winters, when there were record snowfalls — 61.9 inches for last winter and 51.4 inches for the winter of 2009-2010.
At Central Park, this winter was the second-warmest on record. The average temperature, 46.9 degrees, was 5.9 degrees warmer than normal. What changed?
"Probably a combination of La Nina, the opposite of El Nino, and also a strong positive phase of the Arctic oscillation that was in place for most of the winter and late fall," says Cook.
Another weather pattern shifted the jet stream, locking Arctic air well to our north. It could also lead to a steamier spring.
"We're probably going to have warmer than normal conditions," says Cook.
Next winter, however, is a tougher call.
"It's really hard to predict from one winter to the next what the winter's going to be," says Cook. "I think what we're going to be seeing over the next 50 to 100 years is a tendency for winters like this winter to be more common."
It’s not just people that are reacting to the change.
"Birds are returning earlier from migration, the frogs are coming out of hibernation earlier," says biology professor Lisa Manne of the College of Staten Island. "Also we might see some migration of species that are previously more southerly might move into our region."
Then there are the bugs.
"We're probably going to see an early start to the Lyme disease season as insects emerge from hibernation earlier," says Cook.
All this may have some people worried but Brooklyn Botanic Garden foreman Leonard Paul says there's no cause for alarm.
"Stuff is blooming early because of the warm weather and if there's some possibility of a frost coming in, nature will take care of itself too. I mean, we've seen it before,” says Paul.
So happy spring to everyone, but it doesn’t quite seem the same without having suffered winter’s cold and snow.