It's just after noon here in Grand Forks, North Dakota, and we're at 44 degrees, headed for a likely high of upper-40's, maybe we'll even flirt with 50. It's been an unprecedented (seriously I can't emphasize enough how unusual this is) warm winter here, so warm in fact that the snow and ice in the back yard melted yesterday, causing April/May mud conditions and allowing mischievous puppies to dip their noses and paws in fresh mud and haul it into the house.
We're headed for a record high today, tied a record high of 41 the other day (Tuesday), and broke record highs seemingly every few days in the week before and during Christmas. The high temperatures combined with the lack of snow (we just got our first significant snows, 4-6 inches total before the New Year) has made this an almost unprecedented dry and warm winter. Everyone I've talked has said they can't remember a winter with this little snow this late into the season, and hardly anyone can remember one, let alone multiple 40+ degree high temperatures in December and January.
Our cross country skis and snowshoes have remained firmly entrenched in the basement closet, there's still not enough snow cover to use either. And there's pretty much a news story every day about someone falling through the ice driving their ATV whilst ice fishing. People are so accustomed to the "the ice is always thick enough by this time of year", that they venture out into marginally safe areas and fall through, sometimes with horrific outcomes. Snowmobiling is a huge hobby/sport here, but we've only heard a smattering of snowmobiles, and those have only been within the last week. All forms of winter recreation seem to be on hold for a good snowfall.
All this weird weather begs the question, is this just single seasonal aberration, or is this the new normal? Climate change more than anything means more extreme, more severe, and just more weird weather. Is this the first of our chickens coming home to roost? Is this just the first annual installment that we have to pay the piper? Nobody knows. We could revert back to normal winter temperature and precipitation, and stay that way for the rest of winter, and folks probably wouldn't remember this stretch of weird weather. But if this is just a harbinger of things to come, many people could be in for a serious forced lifestyle rearrangement.
In pictorial news, we're going to bite the bullet and buy a new official Deaf Dogs and Benevolent Gnomes digital camera this weekend, so pictures should return soon. We're also going to have the results from our poll in the next few days, and a chance for readers to vote on our "Dog of the Year" for 2011. Stay tuned...