- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Last winter Southern Marylanders barely had to break out their winter coats.
With record highs, the season was somewhat of an anomaly. The white Christmas many hoped for never came. But, on the upside, there was no snow to shovel.
The weather turned out to be good for some and bad for others.
Local farmers, who normally rely on cold weather to ward off insects and disease, were affected by the warmer temperatures.
Roger Lavoie, owner of a Christmas tree farm in Oakville called Evergreen Acres, says the mild winter last year caused needle cast disease to affect some of his trees. The disease is caused by fungus, and it takes three years to get rid of it, he said.
In comparison to 2010-2011’s intense winter storms and snowfall, many were pleasantly surprised by the warmer temperatures of last winter.
And what type of weather will this year’s winter will bring? No forecast has been determined yet, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Jon Gottschalck, head of forecast operations at NOAA, said, “We don't have any reliable signals to make a forecast either way.”
For those counting on another mild winter, it’s unlikely this year’s weather will be a repeat of what was experienced last winter.
When asked if this winter would be anything like last year, Gottschalck said, “Last winter had record-breaking temperatures. So, there is a low probability for that to happen again.”
For the benefit of his tree farm, Lavoie said he hopes for a colder winter with snowfall. The snow is good for the trees Lavoie said, because,”It puts moisture into the ground … It also helps to insulate the trees.”
Snow also keeps the insects away, Lavoie says.
And with warmer temperatures, insects become a problem because, "They might have one extra life cycle because they don't go dormant for the winter like they should," Lavoie said.
Joe Dorsey, retail sales assistant manager who works at Wentworth Nursery in Charlotte Hall, said while the nursery does bring a lot of its plants inside during winter, “having the mild winter caused more disease and fungus to develop on the plants … We do need it to be cold."
Last year’s mild winter also affected vineyards and vegetable farms in the area.
James Horstkamp, owner of Waterford Vineyards, doesn't believe this winter will be the same as this past year, and predicts this winter will be a standard winter.
“You really want the colder weather to come to make the vines go into dormancy,” Horstkamp said.
Brett Grohsgal, owner of Even' Star organic farm in Lexington Park, said he normally relies on NOAA’s weather predictions rather than the farmer’s almanac.
“The oceanic water temperature has been cooling down quicker than normal this year,” Grohsgal said, which he says speaks to a harsher winter.
Grohsgal, like many other farmers, said a snowy winter will be good for the crops.