Boise skiers get to celebrate the end of 2012 they way they love, schussing down the slopes of Bogus Basin.
They started the year agonizingly waiting for the snow until Jan 19. It was a harbinger to four seasons of climate change brought to Idaho by the greenhouse gases each one of us contribute by our dependence on fossil fuels.
Warmer winters are one of the signs that Idaho’s climate has changed before our eyes. But change happens and the future depends on how we adapt.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported 2012 was the eighth warmest year since records were kept. Most of the others have occurred in the last decade.
This shift has now become so apparent that we have been able to follow it through the seasons.
The runoff came early this year and as it peaked in April on the Boise River a warm spell made the Corps of Engineers scramble to keep the river from overflowing its banks. Experts say the runoff has been coming earlier and will continue to come sooner as the regional conditions shift.
Then the fire season started early, causes hundreds of thousands of acres of rangeland to burn across southern Idaho, Oregon and Nevada. By late June the Charlotte Fire burned 66 homes and 29 outbuildings in Pocatello.
It was even worse in Colorado Springs where 346 homes were burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire. Much of Idaho spent the rest of the summer and into the fall under smoke as 1.7 million acres of Idaho burned, more than the l.2 million acres that burned in 2007 and 1.3 million in 2000.
The fire season didn’t end until November, which was the fifth warmest November since record-keeping began in the 1880s. Eight of the 10 warmest years have come in the last decade.
It’s not all bad, the lingering fall helped the vines on the slopes of the Snake River produce some of the highest sugar production seen, said Ron Bitner at Bitner Vineyards near Caldwell.
The milder fall temperatures have allowed them to produce award winning Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. When Ron and Mary began in the early 1980s, all they could grow were whites.
So raise a toast goodbye to 2012 and be sure the wine comes from the emerging viticultural gem, Idaho.