Monday, February 27, 2012

Winter? What winter?

It has been a strange winter here in Ontario.  For the second year in a row we have not had to shovel our driveway even once.   Yes, we have cleared our walkways of a couple of inches here and there but for the most part the few snow accumulations have been quickly followed by a warm spell with rain and the snow is melted away.  A friend shared this table from Environment Canada.
News Release
Ontario Weather Review
January 2012 
In January 2012, balmy temperatures continued to reign across the province.  Mean temperatures approached, but somewhat surprisingly did not surpass, the values of 2006 when most recent records were set in Ontario. This January, mean temperatures were above normal values by as much as 7.8 degrees Celsius, which was the case in Dryden!
Unusual mean temperature readings (in °C), ranked by variation from normal:
Location         MeanTemp  Normal   Difference   Warmest since
Dryden                 -9.7             -17.5            7.8             2006
Kenora                 11.4            -17.3             5.9            2006
Sioux Lookout     -12.8            -18.6            5.8            2006
Red Lake            -14.0            -19.6             5.6            2006
Thunder Bay         -9.9             -14.8             4.9           2006
Wawa                   -9.9             -14.8            4.9            2006
Peterborough        -4.2              -8.9              4.7            2006
Kapuskasing        -14.0            -18.7              4.7           2010
Toronto Pears       -1.7              -6.3               4.6           2006
Elliot Lake            -7.3            -11.8               4.5            2006
Geraldton             -14.7           -19.2              4.5            2006
Chapleau              -11.7           -16.0               4.3           2006
Trenton                 -3.2              -7.5                4.3           2006
Pickle Lake          -16.3            -20.5               4.2           2007
Sault Ste. Marie      -6.4            -10.5              4.1            2006
Earlton                  -12.3            -16.4             4.1             2010
Kitchener-Waterloo -3.2              -7.1             3.9            2006
Sudbury                   -9.8            -13.6             3.8            2008
Timmins                 -13.7            -17.5              3.8            2010
Sarnia                      -1.8            -5.4                3.6            2006
Windsor                   -0.9             -4.5               3.6            2006
Moosonee              -17.1            -20.7              3.6            2010
Kingston                  -3.6             -7.1                3.5            2006
London                    -2.8             -6.3                3.5            2008
Toronto                   -0.8             -4.2                3.4             2006
North Bay               -9.6           -13.0               3.4               2008
Wiarton                   -3.4             -6.8               3.4               2008
Muskoka                 -7.1           -10.4                3.3             2008
Petawawa              -10.1           -12.9                 2.8            2010

Notice that the warmest years have been over the last 6 years.   Whether you debate climate change as man-made or just cyclical there seems to be little doubt that we are currently warming.

  In the past our spinach has overwintered in our cold-frames and we eat it until December.  This year we harvested some in January and it is still growing well in February.

  The Eastern bluebirds that nest with us every year overwintered this year in the back yard, the first time we have noticed this.

Since the weather was a balmy 32 F we went for a walk into the woods across the field.  What prompted the walk was the arrival of a herd of 31 deer.  They all came running over a period of 5-10 minutes through the field after crossing the road and ended up streaming through our back yard and the field behind us before all hopping the fence and disappearing into the woods.  I wanted to follow their trail.

  The woods are actually a landlocked conservation area that was man-made – picture perfect rows of pine after pine.  Around the exterior the native trees have taken a stand and there is a mixed wood with maple, black walnut, oak, and hickory but once you venture in a bit it is all pine.  The lack of snow made it fairly easy to walk through at this time of year and as we walked we found these depressions in the snow where deer must have been sleeping in the night.  There were 5-6 of these spots melted in the snow a few feet apart.

In the middle of the woods is a large pond.

A massive oak near the pond.  Local kids use it for a swing.
                          Yes!  Buds!  spring is on the way...
There will be pros and cons to the warming weather, and if it continues there will be changes to what we are able to grow, and like nature we will have to adapt.