Warm weather ruins Como’s snow day

The first-year snow contest was canceled because of unusually warm weather.

by Kevin McCahill

These have been dark days for Frosty the Snowman.

Often the centerpiece for front yards around campus, along with a variety of other snow creations, this winter’s record-high temperatures, last weekend notwithstanding, have relegated such artworks to memories of a snow-filled past.

This also happened to be the year the Southeast Como Neighborhood Association was looking to have a little fun with the snow.

The association had planned an art snow contest for the first time this winter and was accepting applications until Tuesday.

But record-high temperatures in January and a lack of snow in the Midwest ruined the event.

Neighborhood coordinator James De Sota said there were no entries this year because of the lack of snow.

“This is the first time trying it out, and of course this is the year we don’t have any snow,” he said.

The event was a Southeast Como contest to create the best snow sculptures on their property.

The contest had separate categories for adults, children and students.

De Sota said he had spoken with students about the event and many seemed interested in participating.

City Council members Cam Gordon and Paul Ostrow were slated to judge the event.

Gordon said he was interested in attending the event but wasn’t surprised it was canceled. Still, he said he liked the idea.

“It’s good community building,” he said. “And it’s a good way to meet community members.”

Some people donated a few prizes for the event, which included a University flag, De Sota said.

The association created the event to keep the community involved throughout the entire year.

“We try to have something going on each season,” he said. “And we figured we didn’t have any late-winter events going on.”

But the answer to why the weather has been so warm is difficult to answer.

“There’s no simple explanation,” said Mark Seeley, climatologist for the University’s Extension Service.

“There’s not a strong El Niño in the Pacific, so we don’t have that to blame.”

He said this January was the warmest in more than 150 years, and said it is possible winter will stay above average.

“Seven of the last eight winters have been abnormally warm,” Seeley said. “It is a strong trend.”

In comparison with the other seasons, winter has seen the largest temperature change, he said.

“That’s something we are still struggling to explain,” he said.

As would be expected, the warmer weather has affected the amount of snowfall in the area. This year, 24 inches have fallen in the metro area, which normally should get 40 inches by late February, Seeley said.

Some students, such as retail merchandising junior Anna Fell, like the snow.

“I don’t like the bitter cold, but I’d like more snow,” she said. “It should be like that; this is Minnesota.”

But the warmer weather has some positives.

Although putting a damper on this year’s Winter Carnival in St. Paul, higher temperatures have reduced the need for heating, which is helpful with expensive energy, Seeley said.

Neuroscience sophomore Joey Ransdell came to Minnesota from Missouri and said the winters here have been a shock, but it’s nice that they’ve been warmer lately.

“I care more about the sun than (the temperature),” he said. “But I definitely like the warmer weather.”