U.S. Winter Weather: Mild Temperatures Have Downsides Too
By OurAmazingPlanet's Andrea Mustain:
If it feels like your giant puffy coat hasn't gotten its usual workout this winter, you're not alone. The season has been unusually tame, with many places around the United States experiencing unseasonably warm temperatures and a marked lack of snow.
Balmy January days may leave hatless humans rejoicing, but scientists say the wimpy winter could have some unpleasant consequences down the road for plants, animals and people alike.
"It has been an unusually mild winter," said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. "The Northeast region had their fifth warmest December on record, and January has been warmer than average," he told OurAmazingPlanet. The NCDC will release final numbers for January this week.
The warm weather extended over to the northern plains as well, Crouch said. In Minneapolis, Minn., temperatures didn't drop below zero until Jan. 19, a tie for the latest date for the milestone temperature drop since record-keeping began in 1871.
All the comfy temperatures could make for some itchy ankles come summertime, according to Jody L. Gangloff-Kaufmann, an urban entomologist at Cornell University and the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program.
Freezing weather typically kills off some insects, whereas in a mild winter, the bugs are free to be fruitful and multiply for winter months when they'd typically have to stay out of the way of harmful cold.
Mosquitoes, fleas and ticks could all be out in force far earlier than usual, Gangloff-Kaufmann told OurAmazingPlanet. ...