Between the Lines:I don’t like the ‘new normal’

I was just getting used to the "new normal."

And then, well, today happened. Specifically, Wednesday morning.

The wind was howling. And light snow was falling.

What's up with that?

I know we should be used to snow and cold and windchill. Is it January. In South Dakota.

But when I drove downtown to run an errand Monday afternoon at 4:30, the thermometer on the CorTrust Bank building flashed, in warm red numerals, that it was 51 degrees.

There was no wind. And most of you who are reading this, especially if you live in the Vermillion area, know what that day felt like.

It felt like spring. Just like so many days we've experienced in the last month or so.

The three inches of snow Vermillion received early last December seems, today, like a freak occurrence. I did have to break out the snowblower to clear my driveway and sidewalks after that storm.

Then, the unseasonably warm weather arrived and soon the snow disappeared as the warmth decided to simply hang around.

Today, dust is gathering on my snowblower.

It's natural to want to bask in the warmth and the sunshine we've been blessed with in recent weeks.

So why have I been greeting each of these snow-free, and presumably care-free days of no shoveling with a bit of dread?

I think it's because I don't like the new normal. Even though it's been rather wondrous.

I would have preferred a white Christmas. When winter arrives, I like to at least see the world snuggle for warmth under a blanket of white.

Today, the fields are naked – helpless as the sun beats down on them. Today, a cold wind has returned, and the land has nothing to protect it.

My house is surrounded by a brown field of dormant grass. It's really rather dull looking. Thank goodness my father-in-law likes to tinker in his shop. When our girls were little, years and years ago, he crafted and painted a wooden snowman to add to our seasonal yard décor.

At the beginning of every winter, as we decorate our home for the arrival of Christmas, the wooden snowman gets placed in our yard.

So far, we can't bear to take it down.

It's the only sign of winter our yard can muster during the very odd beginning of this new year.

Last July, Exacta Weather, a non-profit weather organization comprised of a team of meteorologists from around the world, issued dire warnings about this winter.

Exacta Weather's long range specialist forecaster James Madden stated back then that there is "a potentially record breaking US winter for 2011-2012 with extremely cold temperatures and exceptional levels of snow."

Madden's forecast is based on major natural factors, including solar activity, and how they impact the weather and climate on Earth. His forecasting techniques have attracted significant attention after correctly forecasting seasonal trends in the UK.

Last July, he didn't specifically point what the weather in South Dakota would be like. His forecast, however, indicated "a particularly harsh winter for many parts of the US during 2011-2012. Large parts of Central and North America will face below average temperatures with above average snowfall throughout this winter, with temperatures in many Eastern and Western parts also showing as below average with above average snowfall amounts."

I'm guessing that Madden doesn't like the "new normal" either – at least when it comes to trying to predict the weather.

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