Sunday, March 05, 2023

The Winter That Wasn’t!

The summer of 1816 wasn’t!

The summer of 1816 was not like any summer people could remember. Snow fell in New England. Gloomy, cold rains fell throughout Europe. It was cold and stormy and dark - not at all like typical summer weather. Consequently, 1816 became known in Europe and North America as “The Year Without a Summer.”

It was caused by a Mount Tambora eruption in Indonesia, this year it was the winter that wasn’t.

January was ~9.7 degrees above normal at Bradley airport and I had at my house no measurable snowfall. While February was ~5 degrees above normal, We had a couple of brutal days of sub zero nights and below freezing but it quickly bounced up to the 50s in a couple of days. The local television station names storms and here on the last day of February and the last day of winter it is the first named storm of 2022/2023 season… Anthony.

This winter we never had the ground freeze, the lakes and ponds only froze for week or so and the ice was what we called "punk" ice where the top layer of ice was soft and cloudy, and one week after three days in the single digit temperatures it was back in the 60s, and the ants were out! We had our first measurable snow fall on the last weekend of the month but then it was gone, and on our very last day of winter we had our first plowable snow storm. 

In New Hampshire and Vermont they had warning out to check the ice thickness before going out on the ice, because this year the ice is a lot thinner than normal. The maple sap is running early and they think it will be a meager harvest this year because they need below freezing temperatures at night and warm day to keep the sap flowing.

The good news: the price of natural gas and heating went out of sight but the warm weather resulted in homes needing less energy to keep them warm. The state and towns saved money on highway plowing and fixing potholes.

The bad news: snow plow drivers didn’t make any money. The guy who does my driveway only plowed it once. The warm weather allows invasive insects and plants to come north, the tick and mosquitoes population will explode over the summer. The ground water didn’t get replenished, all the rain just runs off and doesn’t sink into the ground. The orchards are worrying that the fruit trees will bud too early and be killed by a late frost.

While it wasn't a tropical paradise you didn't have to navigate snowy roads and sidewalks. I only wore my winter parka a couple of times and wore a car coat. I read one article that compared the our Connecticut weather to what Washington DC usually has for a normal winter.


What will the spring and summer bring?

Will we be roasting? Or a cool summer to balance out the high temperature this winter?

Will the drought stay busted or we have a wet spring and summer?

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