Mild winter thus far has impacts far and wide

SCHNEE OR NO SCHNEE, the fun still went on in Elkhart Lake last weekend – albeit in limited fashion.

The village staged its annual winter event, Schnee Days, but with a decided lack of schnee – snow for those who don’t speak German – a number of the scheduled events, such as snow shoeing and sledding, had to be cancelled.

But Resorters are a resilient lot and they pushed on with events that were not entirely reliant on a snow cover, like the children’s games, chili cook-off and many more.

It proved to be another example of the mixed bag that this winter’s unseasonably mild weather has brought.

This winter has brought several stretches of typical sub-zero Wisconsin weather to these parts, but a decided paucity of snowfall.

That means, for those businesses and individuals who do snow plowing, it has meant a quiet winter, with a chance to pursue other tasks and jobs where available.

The same can probably be said for those who sell snowblowers, snow shovels and winter wear.

The lack of snow has forced curtailment or cancellation of many outdoor events and activities that thrive on those conditions, while requiring others – such as last weekend’s Race of Champions snowmobile event – to find ways to adapt and carry on.

For those who got sleds or snowboards for Christmas, or snowmobiles, or hoped to get them out and enjoy them this winter, it’s been a frustrating season thus far.

For local governments, it’s been a mixed blessing. They’re spending less on snow plowing and removal, perhaps squeezing another year out of their equipment.

But it also shows how difficult budgeting for public services can be and will leave them without a good base on which to base next year’s budget.

For wildlife, the lack of snow and generally mild winter makes it easier for them to survive the winter better and in larger numbers. That will probably be good news for hunters and fishers next summer and fall when they head out into the woods in search of game or onto the water in search of fish.

However, that can be a double-edged sword. Among the creatures that will survive a mild winter better are flying pests, like mosquitoes, who might be able to begin reproducing earlier if the weather stays warm and could continue to reproduce more often and in greater number throughout the summer. We may all be scratching more next summer as payback for the less scratch we had to pay for winter’s worst this year.

For farmers, it’s a mixed bag as well. Winter crops left in the field could start the season ahead, only to be severely damaged should Mother Nature get in a last blast – or several – of winter after they’ve been fooled into an early start on the growing season.

More importantly, the lack of moisture thus far this winter, if it continues through the next several months, could impact growing conditions in the spring and summer, especially if the lack of precipitation carries on into those months. It makes just one more thing for beleaguered farmers to worry about.

So this abnormally mild winter has its good sides and bad sides for everyone.

It just provides further proof that weather really is the one thing everyone talks about – and nobody can do anything about.

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