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This mild winter is one for the record book

    TRI-COUNTY AREA—This winter has been anything but normal.
    Northeast Regional Climate Center Climatologist Jessica Rennells said this is the seventh warmest winter in the last 114 years (since 1898). She explained the average temperature for a Penn Yan winter has been 25.2 degrees. This winter, the average temperature has been 30.6 degrees.
    Area Meteorologist Phil Mann said the winter has had above normal temperatures, and below normal snow levels. He said Yates County has experienced only a few inches of snow in total, adding “it’s way below normal.”
    Maple syrup producers are also seeing a confusing—though potentially productive season. Many were able to tap their trees up to two weeks earlier than usual, reports Brian Chabot of Cornell University, who says as long as there’s freezing weather overnight with temperatures rising above freezing during the day, the sap keeps flowing.
    Eileen Farnan, owner of Barrington Cellars and president of the Keuka Lake Wine Trail, said the warm weather makes people want to be out more. She said sales of the Wine and Chocolate event earlier this month were up about 20 percent over last year. Farnan said about 100 more tickets were sold.
    “People get cabin fever,” she said. “They want to get out.”
    Rebecca Wright, forestry technician with the Finger Lakes National Forest said, “We still have people hiking the trails but the snowmobile use and skiing use is down due to the lack of snow.”
    Similarly, although snow machines are in use at Greek Peak Mountain Resort in Cortland, apart from holiday weekends, “There’s been a shift in our business, obviously,” says Kevin Morin, VP for marketing. “Everyone on the east coast is off 30 to 50 percent this year.”
    Locals who regularly ski there seem to have been kept away by the good weather, although tourists from Philadelphia and New York City, perhaps mistakenly expecting to find much cooler weather further north, have been enjoying the slopes.
    While the temperatures have not been conducive for ice fishing, Seneca Marine owner Bill Lusk said he has still been selling plenty of bait for regular fishing. He said anglers have been out on docks fishing.
    “It’s definitely the weirdest winter I’ve ever seen,” said Lusk. He added that the warmer weather has brought out more ticks.
    Terra Ellis, store manager for Wal-Mart in Watkins Glen said,   
    “Winter clothing and boots have not been as popular with customers this year. “We’ve seen a lot more purchases of basic household necessity items – and the pet department has seen a huge increase,” she notes. “Animals are not inside as much with this weather, so they’re having to buy different sorts of bedding, outdoor kennel supplies, mats to put down when it’s wet.”




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