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What Is Going On? Winnipeg Imports 200 Truck Loads Of Snow
February 10, 2012
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Winnipeg is known as a city with severe winters, so much so that some people call it "Winterpeg". But 2012 is different: it's been so mild and dry in the 'Peg this year that a popular snow-sculpting competition has been forced to truck in 200 loads of fake snowflakes. That's right: Winnipeg is importing snow.

This winter is Winnipeg's third-warmest in the last 100 years, and much of the rest of Canada is experiencing milder-than-usual conditions, which may seem like great news. But as Live Science points out, there could be some downsides to all this unseasonable weather. Many areas of the U.S. are also experiencing a mild winter and less snow than usual, and scientists are predicting some possible negative outcomes in the coming year.

Such as? Well, warmer temperatures may lead to larger populations of pests and insects. Jody L. Gangloff-Kaufmann, an urban entomologist at Cornell University, says of pest populations, "if they can emerge early and it stays moderate, that gives them a longer time period to reproduce, so you might see populations getting large in early summer". So look forward to some possible mosquito-ridden camping trips.

And those pests could do more than make your summer vacation less fun: they could also damage the yields of certain crops, including wheat. The winter months usually kill off most insects and pathogens that prey on wheat, but if temperatures don't get cold enough, some of those predators could survive, possibly leading to crop failures.

Meanwhile in Toronto, Ryan Ness, manager of water resources at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, told The Toronto Star that this is a strange winter: "We don't need statistics to tell us something odd is happening". Unfortunately, the lack of ice on ponds and streams in the city and surrounding areas may be causing problems for fish populations, who normally winter in a stable environment under the ice, which buffers them from very cold air and calorie-burning turbulence. This year, they are left exposed to changes in the weather.

As the temperature yo-yos between cold and warm, it can cause stress for many species as well as fish, from wood frogs and salamanders to swallowtail butterflies and seed-bearing trees. And some species are showing signs of confusion: a bird-watcher spotted a palm warbler, a species that normally flies south for the winter, in Toronto at Christmas.

Related stories on Strombo.com:

Winter's Coming Early... In Story Form

Is Climate Change to Blame For Soaring Food Prices

Sources:

Reuters on Winnipeg's Snow Shortage

Live Science on the Downsides of a Mild Winter

The Toronto Star on Toronto's Mild Winter

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