Mildest Winter on Record

03/01/02 12:00AM



(Host) This winter is officially the warmest on record in Vermont. Meteorological winter ended at midnight Thursday.

The National Weather Service in Burlington says the average temperature for December, January and February was more than eight degrees warmer than normal.

Bob Bell is a weather service meteorologist:

(Bell) "Not only is it eight degrees above, but it surpassed our previous record by 1.2 degrees. It doesn't sound like much, but it is quite a bit when it's averaged over a three-month period. Our records actually go back in Burlington until about 1883, so this is quite a significant record."

(Host) Bell says this winter was also notable for it's lack of extreme temperatures. For the first time since records have been kept, no readings of zero degrees or below were recorded in Burlington. An average winter has 26 days when the temperature dips below zero. The mild temperatures have left Lake Champlain and other lakes with little ice cover.

That's not the case at Joe's Pond in West Danville, scene of the annual Ice Out contest. Every year thousands of people pay one dollar to wager on the date and time that a cement block will plunge through the ice to the bottom of the pond. Don Walker is the official Ice-Out coordinator. Walker says there's still plenty of ice on Joe's Pond:

(Walker) "The chances of ice going out of Joe's Pond before April 1 are very, very remote. And yet, I've looked at a few tickets and some of them have shown March 23 and 28 and so on. There are people that are picking into March!"

(Host) The earliest the ice has gone out on Joe's Pond was April 15. Even with last spring's heat wave, Walker says the ice wasn't gone until the second week in May.

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