Good news for the Ford Motor Company: due to a moderate winter and low fuel prices, Ford’s sales grew 11 percent—the company’s best February since 2005. Bad news for the Iditarod Race Committee; organizers of the 1000-mile dog sled race in Alaska announced that 300 cubic yards of snow had to be hauled from Fairbanks to Anchorage for the opening ceremony.
Gardiner’s reaction to the warm temperatures of this past winter was also mixed. “There’s been less plowing, less salt on the roads, fewer emergency repairs,” said Brian Stiscia, Superintendent of Highways, “economically great for the town.” Jimmy Wild, second generation well driller and owner of Jim Wild Well Drilling, agrees. “I’m happy with the high temperatures. It’s been a decent winter for me,” said Wild. “I finished jobs that I could never have started any other winter.”
But landscapers, suppliers and builders who depend on extra material, plowing and sanding—and made investments in new equipment—are experiencing double digit losses with little or no revenue to show for their efforts. Majestic’s Hardware on Dusinberre Road felt the pinch too. “Business was definitely off,” says owner Rick Majestic. “We packed away loads of salt; normally a pallet of salt won’t last a day, and snow blowers and shovels stayed unsold. That’ll mean unplanned interest on goods in inventory.”
Other anomalies of the unusual season include the Gardiner Day Committee hosting its annual Christmas Caroling in 60-degree weather, and Matt Goodnow of Goodnow Family Farms on Route 44/55, launching the family’s Christmas Tree business in a season that saw a record-breaking 67 degrees on Christmas Eve. “But I am happy,” he said. The winter made caring for my cattle a lot easier, so winter was good and bad.”
The Ranch Skydiving Center at Gardiner Airport did well; hibernating skydivers emerged to dot the skies. Aerial Photographer Laszlo Andacs lives in Gardiner and travels the world filming gravity defying events. “Usually it’s a lot below zero at altitude, but some weekends last winter were great for jumping,” says Andacs. Jumpers who go to Florida stayed back.” Good for them, but many of Gardiner’s recreation dollars landed elsewhere; local ski areas watched their customers head for Colorado and Utah.
Cross-country skiers used to first-rate skiing on Mohonk Preserve’s excellent trails were left wanting, but Preserve Director of Marketing & Communications Gretchen Reed says the mild weather actually resulted in more visitors at the Preserve.
Among those who were economically immune, reaction was good. Adriana Baez, who works at the Village Market, says, “I was disappointed about the warm Christmas, but this year I got to work faster. There were no delays anywhere,” and Gardiner resident Michele Tomasicchio, owner of Made With Love Skin Care Products, said “I love winter, but honestly there was a lot less shivering this year, and a lot more time outside.”
What is bringing Americans such freakish conditions? National Geographic is putting its money on global warming, El Niño, and the jet stream. El Niño is the occasional warming of the Pacific that brings with it warmer temperatures, increased moisture and a significant northward push to the jet stream. Add a little global warming, and we are experiencing what appears to be a trend for years to come.
“It’s been early spring all winter,” said trucker and hauler Scott Barclay, buying a coffee at Ireland Corners Deli in March. “I’m not sure yet whether it’s been good for me or bad for me.” By now, he’s probably figured it out, and we hope the news was good.