Feb 25 2017
There’s snow in this picture but there hasn’t been snow in the Laurel Highlands for half of this month.
February is supposed to be the best month for tapping sugar maples to collect sap for maple syrup. The sap runs best with daytime temperatures above freezing and nights below freezing. When the nights don’t freeze the sap stops running and the season is over.
This year Somerset County’s maple season was hampered by bursts of extremely warm weather in January and summer-like temperatures this month. The thermometer hasn’t dipped below freezing since February 17 and some days have been more than 20oF above normal. Maple sugaring stopped when it should have been at its best.
This trend isn’t unique to southwestern Pennsylvania. The maple syrup industry tracks what’s happening to maple farmers from Virginia to Maine. Since 1970 they’ve noticed that the seasons have become shorter and the sap is less sweet so it takes more sap to make the same amount of syrup.
No matter where you stand on climate change the people whose livelihoods depend on cold winters (maple sugar farmers and ski operators) can tell you this: Whacky climate ruins their business.
(*) Today the weather is yo-yoing again. Meyersdale, PA will dip below freezing tonight (25 Feb) for two nights, then run up again to a 48oF low on Tuesday 28 Feb.
(photo from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original.)