Yes, very weird. It was 11°C today and the forecast for Christmas Eve is 15°C (almost 60°F). Other than a touch of frost weeks ago and a couple of snowflakes, winter had been totally absent. The grass is still growing and green leaves appear underfoot. Skiers are so out of luck that some ski resorts have reopened their summer activities.
They claim that El Niño, the strongest ever, is responsible for this odd lack of change. Last year we were deep in snow since November with the snowplow butting its way up and down the road. Visitors could not get to the farm due to ongoing blizzards. The cold was so deep my reliable well managed to freeze solid three times. Two years ago, at this time of year, we were frozen to the gills with a spectacular ice storm, cutting out power and bringing down trees all over the place. I could hike for miles over the smooth, flat surface, never once breaking through into the snow underneath.
But now, it’s sort of like September outside with rain and puddles instead of ice. Without snow pack the water table will be low next year, perhaps bringing drought and more failed wells. Lots more insects will survive to plague crops and humans. Gardeners are worrying about swelling buds, bizarrely fooled by the temperature. Farmers see crop damage in the future.
The squirrels are waddling about getting fatter and fatter because they are able to just keep on eating. The ponds are crammed with ducks and geese who seen no need to take to the skies for sunnier climes. They are so well insulated they don’t even notice cold water. So long as there is food and a place to swim, they will laze about the waterways. They literally have to be frozen out. Our human snowbirds, though, have flitted to Florida long ago. Nothing but warm water for them.
However, Municipalities are saving a bundle on snow removal, unlike last year when their budgets were blown by February. I can still bike on roads that have yet to taste sand or salt. And it only takes a couple of chunks of wood to heat the house. No one is complaining much despite the bad news for nature. I only hope El Niño takes itself away by springtime lest it get ideas about frying us to a crisp in the summer.