Weather alarm

I discovered a great new blog last month, Walking the Berkshires, by Tim Abbott, a conservationist writing from the northwestern corner of Connecticut in Litchfield County. He’s a great, elegaic writer, and I found him while googling on an invasive seaweek species called codium, aka “deadman’s fingers.”

Abbott captures in a post the sense of alarm I have this sunny January afternoon with temperatures more suited to the middle of May than the beginning of winter. He notes:

“Yesterday the temperatures in the Litchfield Hills hovered around 60 with a warm, soaking rain. Last night might have kicked off the spring amphibian migration. Today the sun is warm and the temperature on the shady side of my house is 66 degrees. These would be welcome signs of spring in late February, but this is the first week of January. Something is terribly wrong.

There are daffodils pushing up new growth in frost-free ground. These are not the new bulbs I planted last fall that shot up in November and have failed to die back. They are well established, and are responding to the unusual warmth and moisture in the soil as if Spring were just around the corner and not 11 weeks away. There are soft green buds on the lilacs. We have not had more than a brief dusting of snow all season.

Most ominously, the sugar maple in our back yard is weeping sap from the drill holes of a woodpecker and ants swarm at the openings. The sap is rising on 12th night. Last year the first run came unusually early in late January. This was my post at that time on what I feared was a sign of things to come. My fears seem to have been justified. This is no January thaw. In very significant ways, we have simply bypassed winter.”

While walking with my wife yesterday, I expressed my concern that the June-like weather would cause some specific issues. Like the spring amphibian migration — the spring peepers that are a harbinger of more clement weather, could, in theory, come out and start their songs only to get hit very hard by what inevitably will be a return to solid sub-freezing temperatures. My lilacs are budding. Snapdragons left in the flower beds are thriving. Sweet peas are climbing the trellis, and sure, while it is nice to sit in the kitchen on a January night with friends with the windows open, it is still very odd to step outside in shirt sleeves and look up at Orion’s Belt and feel something disconcerting — that constellation is usually viewed while bundled to the max with a cloud of breath fogging the night air.

I’m not going to wade into the global warming issue. I believe it is real, I get perturbed by those who dispute it, and I worry about the size of my “carbon footprint.” And as more and more people say, “If this is global warming, then I’m all for it,” I can’t help but agree and not miss 48″ blizzards, $600 a month heating oil bills, and clenching my teeth as I drive to the market for a bottle of milk while slipping on black ice.

Check out Abbott’s blog. I like his stuff.

0 thoughts on “Weather alarm”

  1. “I can’t help but agree and not miss 48? blizzards, $600 a month heating oil bills, and clenching my teeth as I drive to the market for a bottle of milk while slipping on black ice.”

    perhaps, but the probable subsequent rise in sea level has to be a concern, at least longer term.

    nothing comes without a cost.

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  2. Yeah, but David’s up the hill. A nice rise in sea levels might even give him some coastline, up the value of the house, add a nice view, and he can launch the boats from the backyard.

    What do we lose? Key West, lower Manhattan and much of California. Call me cold, but I could live with that.

    Prepare for the apocalypse; buy sunscreen stock.

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  3. I think our friends in Denver would disagree with the affects of global warming…

    Of course, the clover on my lawn has come back green and I worry I may actually have to mow if we don’t get back to more normal temperatures.

    Then, there may be an epic run of warm weather species off the coast this year making for excellent near-offshore fishing.

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  4. Many thanks for the link and your kind words about Walking the Berkshires. After reading the comments here about sea-level rise, I might add that the salinity of your drinking water, even with that lovely aquifer, might be as great a problem a few decades from now over much of the Cape as the challenge of holding back the sea.

    My family’s property on Buzzard’s Bay in Wareham is on a bluff upon which hurricanes gnaw every other decade or so with great relish. An increase in tropical storm intensity may leave us in a tighter spot than sea-level rise. We are actually negotiating a conservation restriction over much of the property with MA Audubon and Wareham Land Trust that anticipates the possible need to relocate house and outbuildings back from an encroaching shoreline and even to convert an old barn on higher ground to a main residence in anticipation of the potential impacts of global climate change on our homestead.

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