Connecticut outline with a palm tree, warm winter concept
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Jonathan L. Wharton

It doesn’t take a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. And it shouldn’t take a New Englander to know it snows in winter. But with so little – if any – snow accumulation into early 2023, many of us are experiencing a snowless winter. I can’t be the only one relieved and also concerned at the same time. It could be a record this late into the winter season, especially for the tri-state area as New York City have only had flurries.

When I returned to Connecticut almost nine years ago, there was so much snow in early 2014 that it remained on the ground into late March and the Boston Common had feet of snow remaining into April achieving the city’s snowiest winter ever. It was so cold that New Haven Harbor was a frozen waterway. Winter 2014 was unusual since Connecticut’s shoreline had more snow accumulation than inland regions when it’s usually the other way around.  

As a teenage Hartford Courant paperboy in West Hartford, I experienced our share of winters – and a lot of snowfalls. Winter in Connecticut can be intense. But recently, the Hartford area has had some snow, while our shoreline communities haven’t had any accumulation and it’s worrying with February being next week. Even upper New England states received little snow this season, even if this week’s storms offered some snowfall to the skiing regions.

I partially returned to Connecticut to enjoy a proper four-season experience unlike humid drenched seasons in Washington and abbreviated seasons in New Jersey. Southern New England has captivating summers and stellar autumns but lately shortened springs and now a snowless winter. Considering climate change, this could be a lasting trend.   

Over a decade period, winters have been noticeably different in New England. Some analysis and weather charts indicate winter differences. And since I experienced actual winters in the Hartford area decades ago and I now live on the shoreline, Connecticut is experiencing something unusual especially over time.

Our snowless winter should also be a reminder of what Rachel Carson offered in her seminal work “Silent Spring.” She scarily described what our seasons would be like in the near future because of manmade pollution and poisons. Carson’s work is a polemical assessment, but it’s an indicator what authors and activists stressed on the cusp of the modern environmental movement. “Only within the moment of time represented by the present century has one species – man – acquired significant power to alter the nature of the world,” Carson argues.

Although her work was written over sixty years ago, we’re seeing recent climate effects with higher temperatures. Even when we don’t receive snow, Connecticut has torrential rainstorms that should have easily been blizzards or nor’easters. It’s common wisdom that for almost each inch of rain we would get nearly seven inches of snow. Imagine all the rain in the last week that could been snow in Southern New England. But temperatures only hovered a few degrees from the low 30’s, even at nighttime when it could be colder and snowing.   

Considering we live in New England, many of us also appreciate snow for wintertime sports. Skiing, even in upper New England, has remained limited this season. And many tourist-related industries rely on extended and accumulating snowfalls. Our regional economy may have to alter or end wintertime recreation, which could affect area businesses. 

As someone with seasonal depression, I should appreciate a warmer and snowless winter. But as a New Englander, I remain wary because we could also experience significant snowfalls next month until early April. So while the verdict may still be out about this winter, being snowless in Southern New England is concerning.

Jonathan L. Wharton, Ph.D., is an associate professor of political science and urban affairs at Southern Connecticut State University in New Haven.

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