The weather seems different, maybe climate has changed

Duane Dailey

Weather ain’t normal no more. A double negative may be best in describing recent weather.

Two negatives make a positive. Negatives often describe Missouri weather. A story from University Extension’s Pat Guinan at 2018 year’s end told that weather was ending up near average, or normal. Yet, we had bad extremes, back to back. April was cold. May was hot. Both were breaking records. But when averaged the temperature ended near normal.

December may shift that average from normal. It was one of 10 warmest. And, it was one of the wettest. Earlier in November snows fell as severe blizzards. Then a long stretch of December felt like October.

Fall-like condition made nice weather for fall-calving cow herds to thrive. Young calves on milk and grass didn’t burn their food keeping warm. They grew faster. The mama cows grazed on stockpiled winter pastures, if they’d not already eaten it.

The warm and wet weather brought mud. Grazing herds could tear up the pasture and should be removed to save the sod. Mud also stymied crop farmers who couldn’t finish combining soybeans. Lots of farmers asked. What’s with this crazy weather?

As I write this, I’m snowbound now into the third day. And, I don’t know when I can move my car out and over the ridge of snow left by the road grader.

I tried to scoop out. But, I left snow on top of the car. I’d never seen that much snow. When measured it came to 15 inches while still snowing. Shocking! I’d never seen that much snow in Columbia that I recall.

My daughter, Lucinda, reminded me of a previous 12-inch snow that closed MU for a day. After that closing, officials said they would never close again. It caused endless hassle on who is essential and who isn’t supposed to work. Also, who got paid and who didn’t.

That’s changed. Now, our leaders, who aren’t accustomed to Missouri weather, closed MU. In fact, they closed campus based on a severe snowstorm advisory. Now I see a flood of e-mail on how time sheets are to be filled out.

One thing I recall from farm-boy days is that there were no “snow days,” School never closed. Farm chores were done no matter depth of snow or bitterness of winds. Hay was hauled. Hogs were fed. Eggs were gathered. Cows were milked. Do any farms still have that many chores to do? Are farm kids doing these kinds of jobs?

There’s a difference between day-to-day weather and climate. Climate accumulates long term. To me, there’s no doubt that we make man-made impact on global warming. That’s our new climate.

When I first came to Columbia to enroll at MU, there were about 32,000 people in Columbia. Now, there must be 130,000. In my short commute to work, I think I compete with 100,000 cars on the road. There are high-rise garages and parking lots extending out from campus. Every time we start a car, methane and carbon dioxide go into the air. Those CO2 molecules rise to form a lid on the globe. That affects the sun rays coming in and holding heat.

We even warm the oceans. A story this week told that ocean water warmed 40 percent faster than predicted five years ago. Warm water evaporates faster into the air. Now, in Missouri we get millions of tons of water vapor floating up from the Gulf. When moist warm air hits a cold front from the Arctic we get storms.

That gives me thoughts to ponder as I lounge about on snow days. I failed to make it to the supermarket for Saturday grocery shopping. The weather affects business.

I know weather affects farming more than ever.

Tell me what happens across rural Missouri. Here, it cancels basketball games. Does weather ever affect local high school games at all?

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