2012:The year without a Winter

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Last year in Denver,Colorado, there was snow on the ground through the end of April and warm temperatures were not really felt until mid May. Since the end of February this year, Colorado has only had 2 days that I can count where there were wintry conditions, and that was with lows of 30 degrees at night. What I can remember though, are March temperatures in the mid 80s occurring on four to six different dates, mirroring average temperatures for mid June. Trees have already blossomed, and there are grasshoppers, bees, butterflies and lots of pollen in the air - something we should not see until late May or early June. The Washington Post has reported that these first three months of 2012 have shattered records, especially in March.
In March, at least 7,775 weather stations across the nation broke daily high temperature records and another 7,517 broke records for night-time heat. Combined, that's more high temperature records broken in one month than ever before.
More from the Washington Post:
The winter that just ended, which in some places was called the year without winter, was the fourth warmest on record. Since last April, it's been the hottest 12-month stretch on record, Crouch said. But the month where the warmth turned especially weird was March. Normally, March averages 42.5 degrees across the country. This year, the average was 51.1, which is closer to the average for April. Only one other time -- in January 2006 -- was the country as a whole that much hotter than normal for an entire month. The "icebox of America," International Falls, Minn., saw temperatures in the 70s for five days in March, and there were only three days of below zero temperatures all month. "When you look at what's happened in March this year, it's beyond unbelievable," said University of Victoria climate scientist Andrew Weaver. NOAA climate scientist Gabriel Vecchi compared the increase in weather extremes to baseball players on steroids: You can't say an individual homer is because of steroids, but they are hit more often and the long-held records for home runs fall. They seem to be falling far more often because of global warming, said NASA top climate scientist James Hansen. In a paper he submitted to the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and posted on a physics research archive, Hansen shows that heat extremes aren't just increasing but happening far more often than scientists thought. What used to be a 1-in-400 hot temperature record is now a 1 in 10 occurrence, essentially 40 times more likely, said Hansen.
And the reports of extreme winter warmth has gotten noticed by lots of people. In Maine:
Ice leaves Beech Hill Pond earliest that 80-year-old can recall OTIS, Maine -- Since 1947, Edwin "Sonny" Colburn has been keeping track of when the water in Hancock County's Beech Hill Pond goes to ice, and back again. Never, he says, has he seen a winter like this. "There were years when we were driving vehicles on the ice on Thanksgiving, and we were ice skating and ice boating the first part of April," he said Tuesday. "This year, the lake wasn't frozen over until the morning of January 21st, and the ice went out the 21st of March, the earliest I've ever seen it go."
In Colorado, March is our heaviest snow month. We have had one day of snow in March, and little rain - which probably exacerbated a forest fire - 3 months before the beginning of 'fire' season. Another person who noticed the alarming temperature? President Obama at a March fundraiser with Oprah in Chicago:
"We've had a good day," Obama said. "It's warm every place. It gets you a little nervous about what's happening to global temperatures. But when it's 75 degrees in Chicago in the beginning of March it gets you thinking..." "Something's wrong," Oprah interjected. "Yeah," Obama said. "On other hand we really have enjoyed the nice weather."
The article also notes:
Instead of temperatures in the mid-40s, the historical average, Chicago is in a record-breaking streak of 80-degree weather. This "extreme and unprecedented" heat wave began last Wednesday and may continue through this Wednesday. "Before the heat wave, there had only been 10 March days on record that reached 80 degrees, and on average Chicago would see one 80 degree day in March every 14 years," the Daily Herald reports.
While it is true that I'd rather go for a hike than shovel snow, there is a downside to the early spring and summer temperatures - from CNN:
The warm temperatures also contributed to conditions that were favorable for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes. There were 223 preliminary tornado reports during March, a month that averages 80 tornadoes, according to NOAA's Storm Prediction Center. The majority of these tornadoes occurred during a severe weather outbreak across the Ohio River Valley and Southeast in early March. The outbreak caused 40 deaths and total losses of $1.5 billion, making it the first billion-dollar disaster of 2012.
It is my belief that our fellow Americans are much more likely to be persuaded by what they can see with their own eyes - trees blooming in the winter - much more than statistical data, which as we have seen before can be made to look less than reliable - even when it's revealed to be a smear campaign against legitimate science. So what I want to know is what you have seen where you live. What odd weather have you seen? And more importantly, what are your friends and family saying about this weather?

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