Unwelcome Consequences Likely After Warm Winter

By Joe Joyce, WBZ-TV Meteorologist

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.

  • Italo

    I’m sorry, but I say people just should buy more bug repellants, sap collectors should always have some additional year-round side work, and we just be more alert to scavenging animals, and we stop building deeper into their dwindling wooded territories or else adapt like traditionally warmer southern climates do in winters such as ours this one. I’d rather have this year of record low snow totals, after the misery we had to endure last winter. It was not only difficult, but also dangerous, taxing, expensive, and very inconvenient.

    • Julie the Jarhead

      No a big fan of bugs nor bug repellant, but I’d rather have a few more bugs in the summer than three feet of snow in the winter. Just my $0.02.

  • web

    I am very concerned about the insects. Mosquito’s with their diseases. I don’t like bug repellants, as they are toxic. All the spraying, it’s not good. I also thought about water levels. Does the yearly snow provide much needed groundwater? I don’t know..just a question. It would seem our water levels and just overall ground ‘health’ requires a bit of slow melting snow (as opposed to lots of rainfall and flooding). But overall, the extreme weather patterns concern me. Too much or too little of anything is not good for the environment.

    • matt souza

      yes it makes for a good percent of ground water web and its better than spring floods. which i think could happen

  • Jenn

    This Winter in general concerns me a bit. Its just not normal. I do believe we are in the start of a ten year round of periodic drought. I have paid plenty of attention to the weather since I have been farming. We have to learn to deal with extremes now. I am not tapping my Maples this year. I was not prepared for an ealry season and I dont even think I would break even with the amount of trees I tap, paired with less of a Maple harvest. Oh well, we will keep on trucking.

    • laurel

      yes, keep on trucking…that’s exactly the problem.

  • Jodi Pirelli

    Not a fan of bug repellents myself, they don’t work on extended time frames, however as an owner of a pest management company..this is good for our business..one must however always keep in mind a licensed and properly trained company can properly use, dispense and apply pesticides to control in the safest manner to control any infestation…so give us a call at Pirelli pest management .. So I for one love more Insects

  • matt souza

    this winter is concerning. warm winter and snowless winter could mean wet and cool spring. lets hope not. lets see if we get some good snowfall soon. I rather have the snow now and have a dry and nice spring and a warm and sunny beach summer. :)

    • tsalnew

      well said matt – extremes are never good – no matter which direction.

      As far as bug repellant – I am not a fan either and the mosquitoes and ticks are carrying more disease. Not good for anyone if they are in large numbers.

  • jeffsmom

    as far as birds- i live on the mass/nh line and am amazed that Robins are still around- honestly think they never left. i have never seen that

  • dan


  • web

    I hope some of these birds will eat some of the bugs. Last year my son built a bat house for our backyard. No sign of life..but I think we will build another one. Can’t hurt. (and on a side note, the squirrels in my backyard are HUGE, they really hadn’t starved or eaten less yet since the yard is green)

  • Brian Paul Barrett

    Increase chance of very bad thunderstorms and tornados as a result?

  • Willow

    Aren’t there any positive things about having a relatively nice winter? New Englander’s are never satisfied. At least some have the right idea, especially Dan. :)

  • scat

    Put down STEP 1 early this year

  • Alice Hawrilenko

    Most of the Robins you are seeing are Canadian Robins. They come this way for the winter. This is the first winter in three that we have not gone to Florida, so I’m very happy. I’ve been able to get lots of work done in the yard and trekking in and out of Boston has been a piece of cake. We’ve been able to walk every day so my usual winter weight gain has been minimal this year. I’m not worried. Worry is silly. All we really have is today. Weather comes and goes in cycles and I’m old enough to know now that if its good, don’t ask questions. Just smile.

  • taxedout

    If it was a winter like last year people would complain. I don’t care if it ever snows agan…No shoveling, no sliding in my car that I don’t have to clean off every day. No going into hock to my plow driver, sloshing thru the slush and ruining my shoes, and clothes. Sitting in traffic forever, and taking 2 hours to get home. Best winter I have ever seen, hope this is a start to us getting California weather and they getting our’s!!!!!

  • timh

    another voice of doom…..

  • Antonella


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