No wonder we've spent more time hiking than skiing, snowshoeing, ice climbing or anything else winter related this past January. According to the NOAA, January 2012 was the 4th warmest January ever for the country with an average temperature of 36.3 degrees. Not only that, but...
- The snowcover in that month was the 3rd smallest since records were kept (46 years of records)
- Warm temperatures in the plains reduced snow cover and broke many records
- Snowpack across the Sierra Nevada is down 50% from the average
- Unlike the continental US, Alaska temperatures were below normal and this January was their coldest ever
- For the Northeast January was the 10th consecutive month that the average temperature was above normal
For more even more information, NOAA's National Overview for January 2012 is here.
For the Northeast there's some snow coming this Saturday, but then the weather warms back up.
I was up in northeastern Vermont a few weeks ago and it is simply amazing how little snow there is. I went to college at Lyndon State and this time of the year, the college was always blanketed with a deep snow cover and the surrounding areas had even more. This year, there was maybe a few inches. I can't imagine how much all the local businesses are suffering. Winter is a huge event for them with skiers and especially snowmobiles. This year, you'd be better off with an ATV instead of a snowmobile on the trails (which isn't allowed by the way), there just isn't any snow.
I can remember winters in the Catskills where we haven't had good snow, but usually we would have had good ice. This year, there have been a few stretches where we had some good ice form up, but then between the rain storms and the warm weather, the ice just rots and falls off. You wouldn't catch me climbing on most of what we have left now, which is a real shame because that's one of the most popular activities in the Catskills in the winter.
It is a good idea to be extra careful though out on the trails. Here in the Catskills we have had a couple of injuries and rescues thanks to the icy trails. While there isn't any snow out there, in the wet areas, the trails are covered in plenty of flow ice. Make sure you are adequately prepared and extra careful.
So at this point in our warm winter, what do you think? Do you want winter to come back with a vengeance and we have good snows and cold temperatures for the rest of what would traditionally be winter or do you want spring to just hurry up and get here and we'll hope for a better winter next year?
I'm kind of leaning towards just writing off this winter. I know I'm probably jinxing myself, but for my job, I am already planning trail work for April in the Catskills, which usually would be unheard of, but considering the winter so far, I thought at least some tentative dates probably wouldn't be a bad idea.