The winter that wasn’t (Bart)

Old-timers around here have described last summer's drought as the worst since 1954. Even with irrigation our vegetable crops really struggled and yields were perhaps one-quarter of what we expected. The heat and drought are related to an equatorial Pacific Ocean phenomenon known as La Niña, characterized by unusually cold surface water temperatures and which affects weather patterns around the world. In our part of  North America it usually produces milder, dry winters. This year in particular the effect was greatly magnified by a much stronger North Atlantic low that kept pulling even more warm air across the eastern and central USA. As a result the Jet Stream stays north (in Canada) and preventing storms and cold air from moving south. La Niña seems to be weakening after two years and as a result we've had several decent rains -- but no significant snow -- through the winter.  Not only did we have no winter, but spring has arrived remarkably early. Our peaches have just about finished blooming and the apples are about to start. We've been eating quite a few fresh veggies from the garden all through the winter and there's a real chance we could have asparagus in March. Last week we seeded the first of our spring commercial crops:  spinach, beets, and turnips. Two of the greenhouses are full of tomatoes, squash, and cucumbers for early sale. Twenty-five hundred broccoli await transplanting in about ten days. The seasons, and the cycles, turn.  

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