• Odd spring
    April 16,2012

    The Mayans predicted the earth will be obliterated somehow on Dec. 21, 2012. While there are a few people out there preparing for “the end,” most of us are just hoping the New York/Red Sox baseball seasons will improve.

    Yet, this last trip around the sun since Tax Day 2011— and, no, we are not endorsing an official holiday for April 15 like Massachusetts does — we in Vermont have seen some pretty unusual events in as many months.

    This month alone, from the Fool’s Day to its Ides, has seen a weather cycle that even left Roger Hill and other state meteorologists befuddled and amazed. After the warmest March on record — an event that hastened spring but shortened the skiing and maple sugaring seasons — we have experienced an April that allowed the larger ski areas opportunities to reopen lifts to let the downhill crowd ski powder while the gardening catalogs laid open on their dining room table. (Although, April was seasonal, for the most part. Incidentally, Eye on the Sky is predicting today will break records across Vermont as well. High in the 80s.)

    March was its own problem, for sure. It marked the end of the winter that wasn’t.

    “The average temperature of 51.1°F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months (117-plus years) that have passed since the U.S. climate record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week.

    There are upsides and downsides to New England weather wackiness. Contractors, road crews, and other businesses dependent on the warmer weather have gotten a rare jump start this spring. That has meant adjusting schedules, resources and manpower. This spring, regardless of the highly debatable cause of the wild fluctuations in temperature, has been a mixed blessing for seasonal businesses, as was described in Sunday’s Times Argus/Rutland Herald.

    But looking back, across just a few months, we recollect a series of extreme storms that reshaped Vermont, from Bennington to Alburgh. The April-May flooding of 2011 that pounded central Vermont and threatened Lake Champlain and the islands was only a trailer for the horror show that turned out to be Tropical Storm Irene.

    And Irene really was a terror. (Her hurricane name was retired for good last week.)

    “Irene was directly responsible for 49 deaths: five in the Dominican Republic, three in Haiti, and 41 in the United States. For the United States, six deaths are attributed to storm surge/waves or rip currents, 15 to wind, including falling trees, and 21 to rainfall-induced floods. Including flood losses, damage in the United States is estimated to be $15.8 billion,” according to NOAA.

    Yes, the jet stream has changed course. Yes, the earth is warmer. Yes, weather has replaced politics for front page news across the globe.

    And this week, NOAA has predicted even weirder weather is coming. In fact, extreme weather is in the forecast.

    While the Mayans probably could have predicted this meteorological mayhem, they could not have anticipated all of the economic fluctuations associated with it. Weather controls how we conduct our lives, our moods, but lately it has been controlling much more. And it appears we all should be downloading weather apps and keeping tabs on the forecasts more closely than ever.

    You never know what the weather will bring.

    But one springtime rule stands firm for every good Vermonter: bird feeders in after April 1.

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