Man, what a mild/dry winter. Right now, here in Rhode Island, March is 10 degrees above normal. Astounding! What’s good about that? Well unless you’re a skier, the extraordinary mild winter brought with it beaucoup benefits. You saved a bundle on heating. You didn’t shovel your driveway. And your toes never turned blue. The list goes on and on. Nice.
So what’s bad about it? Without the snow melt, our rivers and reservoirs will suffer, especially if the summer turns hot and dry. Not a good time to be a trout. And remember too that some places, such as Block Island, depend entirely on snow and rain to fill their drinking water aquifers. Unless it rains hard this year, they’re in trouble.
Where’s the ugly? This winter was a killer. Hidden from sight, things died and are dying, even as we speak. Some marine life depends on a cold winter for reproduction success. When the temperature is even a few degrees above normal their young-of-the-year simply don’t survive. Winter flounder are a prime example. Decades in decline,this once abundant stock is only a tiny fraction of its historic size. Yes, fisheries mismanagement, and coastal nuclear plant entrainment played a role. But mild winters -which we now see more often – are a huge factor.
Back in December, I was standing on the bridge at Green Hill Pond, peering down into the clear currents, when a lone winter flounder swam by. She was on a spawning run, and probably carrying a million eggs. I gave her a quick salute, and wished her Godspeed, but I doubt her offspring are alive.