, Derry, New Hampshire


March 14, 2013


It’s been a miserable winter and it has long overstayed its welcome. I’ve heard some scientists blame it on climate change. These experts have data to prove that our climate today is different then it was a century or two ago and the effect a degree or two can have on the ecosystem. I can see that things aren’t the way they use to be when I’m shown satellite photos of the glaciers in Greenland. And no, I don’t know the reason. Is it a result of man’s running the environment or a natural cyclical event that happens every millennium or so? Maybe it’s one; maybe it’s the other; maybe it’s both. I do know however that here in Nutfield we’ve been talking about climate change for over a century.

I also know it’s easy to confuse weather with climate. Weather is the temperature and precipitation today, this week, this month; climate is the temperature and precipitation averaged over a century or more. Here in New Hampshire, we live in a continental climate which means we get about 3 inches to 4 inches of precipitation each month with long, cold winters and short warm summers.

There are years when it doesn’t seem like we’re fitting into those climate averages. I’ve seen cool summers and warmish winters. In 1816 we had a foot of snow in July and other years we’ve had open winters. The vagaries of the weather in old Nutfield are amazing. During my life, I remember one winter day when it was minus-30 degrees and I survived — barely — a summer’s day when it hit 106 degrees in the shade.

The year 1903 was one of those years when the weather was the chief topic of conversation. It was a year that nobody liked! In May, the Derry News announced that it was certain that we we’re going through a climate change. The winter started off cold and snowy. One day in January, the temperature fell to 15 degrees below zero and a snow storm blanked the town. Later in the day it warmed up and rain fell by the bucketfuls. Soon, however, the temperature fell below zero and everything froze up solid. The groundhog on Feb. 2, 1903, (Candlemas Day) didn’t see his shadow. And as that clever little rodent predicted, February and March were mild with little snow.

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