What Happened to Winter?


Photo courtesy of Josh Hild at Unsplash.com

Amanda Salanitri, Staff Writer

With April rapidly approaching, the prospect of spring is reassuring in an otherwise stressful time of the year. Other than being bombarded with schoolwork and starting a new season of sports, spring is typically welcomed with the hope of warmer weather and longer days. However, in this pivotal time of changing seasons, the quality of this year’s weather has been a reminder that climate change exists and has detrimental consequences.

Only experiencing brief moments of cold weather this past winter, most prominently seen in the absence of any snow days, the concern for the environment’s wellbeing isn’t as easy to brush off. Furthermore, there are numerous signs showing how climate change is starting to impact people locally. With spring just around the corner, many of us living on Long Island may have to accept a winter without any significant snowfall. However, I’m sure some are sighing with relief, putting their shovels away, and taking their chiropractor off speed dial. While the impact that adapting to major snowfall can have on our roads is certainly something that won’t be missed, the absence of this classic feature of winter weather is a clear indication that people should take climate change more seriously, and putting more effort into taking care of our environment.

To begin with, snow was something I was most anticipating this winter. While we have experienced occasional flurries or light dustings, none of the cool, glistening precipitation coated the ground and rooftops for a significant period. Out of all the season’s characteristics, I was much more eager for a snowstorm than I was for the short, dark days with barren trees and a cruel chill. Additionally, less daylight is a notable contributor to Seasonal Affective Disorder (sometimes referred to as seasonal depression), according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Many of these aspects can be quite de-motivating for anyone, especially since the end of December is an exhausting frenzy when it comes to organizing holiday festivities. Although snowstorms can be a nightmare in regards to traveling for the holidays, there is no denying the idealized beauty of a ‘white Christmas’ that has become synonymous with the holiday season.

On top of this, I was hoping for at least one snow day during the 2022-2023 school year. January especially can be a stressful month for many students, with midterms and the end of the second quarter approaching. In the past few years, there have been several times that a random day off due to snowy conditions has proven to be a well-needed break. I had time to catch up on sleep for example, which is something that I certainly would have appreciated this year. Similarly, some snow days were useful in allowing me extra time to prepare for an assessment. While I don’t prefer to spend my snow days outside anymore, I hope these snow-less years don’t deprive other children of the same winter experiences that I had when I was younger. Snow days have given me fond memories of sledding down the hill in my backyard with my brother, building snowmen, and enjoying hot chocolate.

Without any snow days so far—only one recent two-hour delay—it serves as a reminder that everyone should be mindful of how the environment is treated. Due to the effects of using fossil fuels to generate electricity in our homes, or carbon emissions from cars, the changes in weather patterns and temperatures each year become more drastic. In certain ways, I feel that the absence of cold weather makes spring feel less deserved. Having milder temperatures in the winter may be preferable, yet in effect, the development of spring is less noticeable.

Perhaps this unusually warm winter will help others realize that climate change is an enduring issue, which people around the world should be more aware of in their everyday lives. While the temperature differences may not seem drastic to many, statistics show the apparent effect that the continued production of greenhouse gasses has on the planet. For example, this past decade, from 2011 to 2020, has had the warmest average temperatures (World Meteorological Organization). Climate change is a multifaceted issue, especially as its severity is often overlooked, yet small actions in one’s everyday life can make a difference, such as carpooling, remembering to turn off the lights, or keeping the faucet from running. By being more mindful of how you can cut down on emissions, it can help the planet in the long run and hopefully allow each of the seasons to maintain their distinctive weather patterns in the future. Just as I hope for people around the world to do their part in protecting the environment, I am optimistic that next winter will have more of the distinctive charm that snowfall brings.