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Tourism Tips for New England's Wacky Winter Weather

February 1, 2010

CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine - As the old saying goes in New England: if you don't like the weather, wait five minutes and it will change. And, according to a new report from the National Wildlife Federation (NWF), wacky winter weather events are happening more often because of a changing climate. That means communities need to be prepared to keep people safe and adapt to tourism season shifts. Skiing, ice-fishing and other winter recreation help bring visitors and consistent revenue to the state, but the report's author, climate scientist Dr. Amanda Staudt, says that business is being upended because a changing climate means more snow more often in some areas, and less snow than traditionally expected in others.

"This more variable winter weather will have all sorts of impacts on our communities, on wildlife and nature, and on various outdoor recreation activities that we enjoy."

According to NASA, 2009 was the second-warmest year on record for the globe. Staudt says to keep in mind that global temperature increases don't mean winter will disappear in New Hampshire, but they do mean that climate-associated weather patterns will continue changing and there will be more extremes.

"Although, on average, the Northeast is getting fewer snow days, they're actually seeing an increase in the heaviest snowstorms. I mean, it's one region of the country where we have a really clear trend that were getting more of the really big snowstorms."

Staudt says communities need strong snow and ice removal systems and flood management plans, and they need to explore ways to safeguard wildlife and fish habitats in expectation of more unpredictable weather.

The report "Global Warming Bringing More Oddball Winter Weather" is at www.nwf.org

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - ME