People dreaming of a White Christmas didn’t get their wish in 2011. In fact, there hasn’t been a white anything this winter.
A lack of snow and at times fall-like weather has contributed to one of the mildest winters in recent years… thus far, anyway.
The December average temperature of 34 degrees was the second highest since 2006 and is higher than the 1981-2010 normal of 31.2 degrees. In total, seven days in December featured temperatures above 50 degrees, tied for the third most since 2006.
The 1.3 inches of snowfall received in December is the second lowest in several years, behind only last year’s trace amount.
This December was reminiscent of December 2006, one of the mildest on record. That year, the average December temperature of 39 was just 1.5 degrees off the record, set in 1931.
It also tied with December 1931 for the most days above 50 degrees in December with 19. But even that month had significant snowfall with 15.2 inches occurring.
December 2010 also featured plenty of warmth with nine days above 50 degrees, but it was quickly followed by two days with temperatures below 0 degrees before Jan. 5.
The impact of the warmer temperatures has been felt by local businesses.
Dave Colburn, manager of The Pathfinder, said the store sets up its sales so that bike sales happening during warmer weather and cold weather gear sales occur in the winter. He said the mild weather has led to fewer winter items sold.
“We’ve not sold as many hats, gloves and coats as we’d like, but we’ve been selling a lot of bikes,” he said.
Colburn said the bike shop has been busy since Christmas past. He’s even been getting in on the act. Colburn said he went on a bike ride Thursday, when the high was 63 degrees.
Ben Sigle, owner of Manhattan Running Company, said the store has been busy at the start of the year, but he isn’t sure to what extent the warmer weather has impacted that. “I would say it hasn’t hurt us, that’s for sure,” he said.
Sigle said he’s not sure whether the desire to run in nicer weather is a factor or whether people are just able to travel better without snow.
Either way, he said, the store hasn’t experienced the dead periods that happen when a lot of snow is on the ground. “It’s harder when it’s crappy out,” Sigle said. “People aren’t out and about much.”
Jim Gregory, golf pro at Stagg Hill Golf Club, said he has seen a difference in turnout compared to most winters. “It’s hard to play when there’s snow on the ground,” he said.
Gregory said it doesn’t compare to other seasons because there still is a limited window of time regardless of weather. He said there’s probably a three to four hour window to play 18 holes before it gets dark.
“There’s more play,” he said. “It’s good, but it’s not off the charts,” he said.
January could be on its way to the record for most days above 50 degrees. Through Jan. 6, there have been four days above 50 degrees; the record for the month is 11 days of temperatures above 50 degrees set in 1983.
Mary Knapp, state climatologist, said the rest of the winter will probably feature more of the same weather that occurred in December due to the effects of La Nina, meaning the water temperature in the Pacific Ocean is cooler than normal.
Ironically, the system was also linked to last winter’s record-setting snowstorms in other areas of the nation.
“That’s not to say we won’t have winter weather, but the overall tendency will be toward milder and dryer,” Knapp said. She said
“Here in Manhattan, we didn’t get a lot, but you didn’t have to leave far to get it,” Knapp said.