(Snow, I mean.)
Illustration by George Alfred Williams from the 1905 edition of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
When Dickens was writing his novels, the London winters were different. Then urchins threw snowballs to knock men’s top hats off their heads, and grown men slid their way across ice patches in the sidewalks for fun, and that’s what Dickens showed them doing in his books.
They don’t do much of that any more. The color of winter isn’t white anymore, it’s now soggy brown.
And, from where I sit, it looks like New York and Chicago followed that same muddy path again this year. That’s bad news for, among others, farmers and people who get their stored summer water from streams and springs fed by the winter snowpack.
In some winters to come there may not be a snowpack. In others, paradoxically, there may be more than ever because warmer air can carry more moisture. Although the annual northern hemisphere snow cover in 2012 was 0.3 million sq. km less than the 43-year average reported by the Global Snow Lab at Rutgers University, ranking 2012 as having the 12th least extensive cover on record, the snow cover for this past December was the highest since 1966.
But there’s one rule that all water users should follow:
Don’t waste it!