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Unwelcome Consequences Likely After Warm Winter

By Joe Joyce, WBZ-TV Meteorologist
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BOSTON (CBS) – So far this is the second warmest and one of the least snowy winters in 141 years of record keeping in Boston.

While many celebrate the break from winter’s wrath, others are not. A mild winter with open ground and water sources makes life easier for animals who scavenge for food like deer, turkeys, geese and ducks. Increased survival rates will mean increased populations come spring.

Joan Walsh, a bird expert from Mass Audubon’s Drumlin farm, says most animals can thrive in warm winter.

WBZ-TV’s Joe Joyce reports

“For the most part we would predict that birds would do very well this winter, certainly water birds and resident birds,” says Walsh. “But there could be challenges in the spring from disease or something unknown.”

Without the extended deep freeze common in most winters, insects and pests like winter moths will be more numerous.

“The Arnold Arboretum has been monitoring for the winter moth and found a large population this year. So we are predicting due to the unseasonably warm weather that there will be lots of caterpillars this spring and a lot of leaf damage,” says Stephen Schneider, Manager of Horticulture.

Dr. Angela Ahuja Malik from Allergy and Asthma in Chelmsford says the mild temperatures will also mean an early start to the pollen season.

“Instead of things coming out in April, we are looking at them coming out in early March. So you are looking at a pretty long season as well.”

The constant mild days and cool nights is also making an early start the maple sugar season.

“The sap has been flowing off and on through the entire winter.  We tapped last week. With the warm weather we expect the maple trees to begin budding earlier this season which usually signals the end of our maple sap harvest,” says Greg Bodine, assistant crops manager at Drumlin Farm in Lincoln.

An early finish could mean less syrup and potentially higher prices for maple syrup at the store.

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