Thursday, January 04, 2007
When Freeze Hells Over, Even Asparagus Gets Confused 
by Lenka Reznicek [permalink] 
So it's official - it's not my imagination - Chicago (like many other U.S. cities) is having one heck of a mild winter so far. From CNN:
CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Crocuses are pushing out of the ground in New Jersey. Ice fishing tournaments in Minnesota are being canceled for lack of ice. And golfers are hitting the links in Chicago in January. Much of the Midwest and the East Coast are experiencing remarkably warm winter, with temperatures running 10 and 20 degrees higher than normal in many places.
New York City saw a November and December without snow for the first time since 1877. And New Jersey had its warmest December since records started being kept 111 years ago. Maria Freitas said that not only are crocus bulbs blooming in her Rahway, N.J., backyard, but the asparagus is three inches high. "They think it's spring. They're so confused," she said.
Meteorologists say the warm spell is due to a combination of factors. El Nino, a cyclical warming trend now under way in the Pacific Ocean, can lead to milder weather, particularly in the Northeast. The jet stream, the high-altitude air current that works like a barricade to hold back warm Southern air, is running much farther north than usual over the East Coast.

The weather is prone to short-term fluctuations, and forecasters said the mild winter does not necessarily mean global warming is upon us. In fact, the Plains have been hit by back-to-back blizzards in the past two weeks. "No cause for alarm. Enjoy it while you have it," said Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center.

Whatever the explanation, Amanda Dickens was enjoying the weather Wednesday at Baltimore's Inner Harbor as she ate lunch outside with her husband and 3-year-old son. Temperatures there were expected to reach 60 degrees. At the Marovitz Golf Course in Chicago near Lake Michigan, 30 people teed off between 9 a.m. and noon, when there are usually no golfers at all this time of year.

Leonard Berg, the course's superintendent for maintenance, gestured to the fairways with pride: "Normally this time of year there would be a brown singe to it. Look at that nice emerald green."
I, for one, am enjoying this thermal twist immensely - but I'll be the first one to complain when we finally get our 12 inches of snow this April. [Photo courtesy Physorg.com; © 2007 AP/Charles Rex Arbogast]

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