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Weird winter weather warrants wondering

February 23rd, 2012

With the Mayan forecasts of the apocalypse just months away, the recent Cleveland weather has some students wondering if the end really is coming. With highs in the 60s and lows in the 20s, the weather pattern has been anything but predictable this season.

At JCU, this comparatively mild winter has made being outside in the Cleveland weather a bit more bearable for many who expected much colder temperatures.

Junior Joe Hayek said, “Last year we got hit hard in February, [but] this year there hasn’t been a lot of snow, [which] makes walking to class more enjoyable.”

Senior Megan Lutz has also enjoyed the warmer weather. Lutz is on the JCU cross country and track teams, and trains and conditions outside in sunshine or snow.

“Out of all my winters at JCU, this has been my favorite in terms of running. It is great to go out and run on the beautiful days we have been having,” said Lutz.

The typical Cleveland blizzards, high winds and sub-freezing temperatures sometimes makes it difficult to run safely or even breathe, according to Lutz.

“The worst winter was the one we had three years ago. I remember putting on every warm thing in my closet to go brave the elements at practice and still being cold. This winter, it has been the opposite and I have to say that I am fine with that,” she said.

Senior Clarence Semple is also happy with the warm weather.

“It’s weird that we haven’t had a lot of snow, [but] I’m a summer baby, [so I’m] enjoying the warm weather,” said Semple.

The facilities and maintenance departments have been taking advantage of the high temperatures and no snow in order to prepare for the spring season.

Facilities foreman Gary Paoletta said, “[The maintenance team] got a jump on their spring cleanup, [they’re] ahead of the game in getting ready for commencement, and they’re actually doing their spring pruning now.”

JCU Director of Physical Plant Bernie Beyer confirmed that this winter has been good for the University, due to less overtime for staff, less expensive snow removal and lower utility bills for heating.

“It’s had a good impact overall,” said Beyer.

However, according to Graciela Lacueva, the chair of the physics department, this mild weather is not necessarily atypical.

“With a year-by-year comparison, you cannot pin down a cause. When you look at fluctuations throughout the years, you will see a trend toward the change,” she said.

According to Lacueva, this is a “La Niña” year, which is determined by analyzing the temperature and direction of ocean currents.

Although this is not an unusual change, Lacueva noted the importance of recognizing the threats of changing weather patterns.

“Climate pattern changes are causing glaciers to melt, and if this continues, segments of the population will need to migrate,” she said. “In places like Peru, when the glaciers melt, they cannot maintain their way of life.”

Coastal cities and cities below sea level will also suffer if these patterns are not reversed and the ice caps continue to melt and raise the water level.

The key, according to Lacueva, is to educate the population on the dangers of burning fossil fuels.

“Everybody has to collaborate,” she said. “If it’s not reversed, it’s going to have serious consequences for everybody.”