Forget the polar vortex, there’s a word for the weather we have been having this week and it’s — drumroll, please — winter.
If there is one thing old iceboaters can tell you, the South Fork usually experiences a cold snap right around the second week of January, and only a few years ago, relatively speaking, there would be weeks of hard-water sailing even on Three Mile Harbor. And, in what might be termed real winters a number of decades back, you could drive a car to Gardiner’s Island on the frozen bay if you were especially brave, or foolhardy. This winter? Feh. It’s supposed to hit the 40s by Saturday.
For all the talk of sub-freezing temperatures and good-intentioned suggestions to “stay warm,” this winter’s story has not been one of cold but rather how mild it has been. The National Climate Data Center, a government weather records agency, has reported that there have been more than four times as many record high temperatures than record lows for the 30 days that ended on Sunday. For example, Baltimore had its warmest winter day ever on Dec. 22, when it reached 62 degrees.
Whether these records can be linked to human-caused climate change is beside the point. The planet is getting warmer, no doubt about it. Face-numbing days like we’ve seen this week are difficult to cope with, but they are becoming fewer and further between, and that is the real and important story. Just ask any old iceboater.