The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

March 8, 2014

In Our Opinion: Time change a welcome sign of spring

The Daily Star

---- — In upstate New York, harbingers of spring are few and far between, so we have to take what we can get. 

That’s why we’re celebrating the arrival of Daylight-Saving Time this weekend. Clocks will move forward by one hour on Saturday night, meaning that by Sunday evening, we should be enjoying a little more late-afternoon sunshine. 

Or, at least, some late afternoon gray daylight. But even that will be welcome after what has undeniably been a cold and unrelenting winter. 

Of course, there have been a few other signs that winter may, in fact, one day end. Robins have been sighted, although they have looked a little out of place surrounded by mammoth piles of snow. And it’s reassuring to know that spring training season is underway, and the countdown to “real” baseball is getting shorter by the day. 

It’s tempting to consider this a “bad” winter. But it would be more accurate to call it a “normal” winter, provided your definition of “normal” stretches back more than a decade or so into the past. In fact, you could even call it an “old-fashioned” winter. 

Looking at the record high and low temperatures recorded in Binghamton (the nearest site for which data was available), you can see that many of the low-temperature records for February were set in the 1960s and ‘70s, and many of the high-temperature records are from the 1990s and 2000s. So for any millenials out there, if your parents have been telling you that winters used to be a lot worse when they were kids: they weren’t exaggerating (much). 

February’s cold did dip into the low end of average and flirt with a couple of low-temperature records. But the harsh truth is, it was really nothing unusual compared with the historical data. 

And while it certainly seems like we’ve been getting plenty of snow, we’re not breaking any records there, either. Four of the five Februarys on record with the most snowfall were before most of today’s college students had even been born — the notable exception being 2010, with its tremendous 37.5 inches of snow. 

For example, Binghamton Regional Airport recorded 4.3 inches of snow on Feb. 13, falling a few inches short of the 6.8-inch record set in 1993. As National Weather Service meteorologist Joanne LaBounty told the Binghamton Press & Sun in February, “For this time of year, we’re above average,” but not record-breaking, either. 

Still, we can’t be faulted for grumbling, just a bit, as we bundle up for the umpteenth time in layers of coats, scarves, gloves and hats, or receive the news of yet another wind chill advisory or winter storm watch. At least now we can do so with greater confidence that the end is in sight.