Campus recognizes unusually warm winter

Ariel Reid

Due to many shifting aspects of the climate, Ohio has experienced a winter that is mild in temperature and dry, quite unlike those of the past two years.

Thomas Schmidlin is a meteorologist and professor of climatology at Kent State University, and has been keeping track of Kent’s “unusual” winter this year.

Schmidlin said that this winter sharply contrasts with those of the past two years, which, as many in Ohio will remember, were snowy and bitterly cold. This year, however, has been very different.

“A mild and dry winter is typical in Ohio when an El Nino pattern exists in the Pacific region.” Schmidlin said.

He also added that this particular El Nino has been “a strong one.”

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), this year’s storm is actually one of the strongest on record.

Schmidlin said that not everything about El Nino is yet understood, but that it is essentially a storm in the Pacific which occurs every 5 to 7 years and lasts for several months. The storm has global implications but is “not predictable” enough to be consistent.

Not only has Ohio experienced strange weather due to El Nino and a shifting Jetstream, but the United States as a whole saw December 2015 as the warmest month on record, according to NOAA.

Many people are worried that this drastic new data is tied directly to climate change and fear that the planet is warming exceptionally fast. Schmidlin doesn’t discredit the effect of climate change, but doesn’t believe this winter should be cause for alarm.

“One unusual winter does not make a trend,” Schmidlin said.

Quite the opposite from fear, grounds manager Heather White said that this winter has given the Facilities Management department a chance to focus on something other than “plow, shovel and salt.”

White called this the “ideal time” to prune trees and shrubs, work on the greenhouse and maintain buildings. She also said this weather helps to aid in the health and development of KSU’s many trees and greenery.

The lack of snow and ice has also been saving the facilities department money on salt and snow removal.

However, with a staff entirely of full-time employees, many in the facilities department are actually missing the overtime they’d be clocking in during a harsher winter, which would have at least one person on call at all hours of the day, White said.

White said that this warm winter has been hard to adjust to and that keeping employees busy has been a challenge.

“What are we going to do with all these people?” White said.

White described what she would expect the ideal working weather conditions would be for her and her grounds keepers.

“If we could have our perfect world,” White said. “We’d get 4 inches of snow on a Monday.”

With the first weekend in February finally bringing some snow and the promise of more on the way, White said that her department is ready for a real Ohio winter at any time.

“February is not a kind month.” White said.

Schmidlin also agrees with this sentiment, as he warns Kent students ready to break out the shorts and sandals that snow and cold weather can occur in March or even April.

“Winter is not over yet,” Schmidlin said. “There is a lot of winter left.”

Ariel Reid is the sciences reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected]