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Local warming

February 2, 2012 - Rob Weaver
In Pennsylvania, prognosticating groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today, forecasting six more weeks of winter. Or should that clause exclude the word “more”?

Meanwhile, in Ohio, Buckeye Chuck -- which sounds like a locavore variety of hamburger -- did not see his shadow this morning in Marion, where skies were cloudy. According to Groundhog Day tradition, that means spring will arrive early.

Perhaps it already has.

I fail to see a connection between overcast skies on Feb. 2 and wintry weather. Or the role of a woodchuck in determining whether shade will be made naturally that day. Today, during my morning commute, my motorcycle failed to cast a shadow. Yet so far this winter, I haven't ridden my snowboard.

Sure, snow has been lacking. According to the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University, which has been tracking snowfall since 1967, only 19 percent of the lower 48 states have snow cover. Two years ago, the lab reports, more than two-thirds of the lower 48 was covered in snow.

But most ski areas are capable of making snow -- or at least slippery ice crystals -- if conditions permit. Generally, that means temperatures below 28 degrees. In Tiffin, overnight lows dipped below that mark just 17 times in January.

That’s why Miller Boat Line was able to begin making daily trips Wednesday between Put-in-Bay and Catawba Island. There's no ice on Lake Erie. People are playing disc golf, regular whack-a-ball golf and visiting zoos without dressing for an arctic expedition.

While I wonder whether I’ll ever buy a lift ticket this season, I can commiserate with those who are waiting to go ice fishing. Or snowmobiling.

But I can’t help but wonder: If this is winter, what’s summer going to be like?


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