This year’s mild winter temperatures have saved the city of Oxford thousands of dollars.
Less than $20,000 was spent on salt purchases this year compared to last year, which cost the city $60,000 according to Mike Dreisbach, the City of Oxford service director.
Oxford’s $40,000 saving this year allows for more money to be spent on city improvement.
“The saved money stays as part of the street fund which will allow us to buy other materials instead of salt, such as asphalt, concrete and supplies for other maintenance projects,” Dreisbach said.
According to Dreisbach, money spent on snow plowing is separate from salt purchases and is considered to be part of the materials cost.
“There’s regular time and overtime wages paid for snow plowing,” Dreisbach said. “We’ve had very little overtime this year and we’ve probably saved an additional $20,000 or so from lack of needed overtime.”
Dreisbach acknowledged the winter season is not completely over yet and there’s still opportunity for snow, but the money spent so far is less than what was spent during last year’s colder winter.
With this mild winter, the controversial concept of global warming resurfaces.
Miami University Professor of Geology, Dr. Jason Rech, said the unusual weather could not be attributed to global warming because conclusions cannot be based on one year.
“We need to look at the long-term view,” Rech said. “If this keeps happening again and again then there’s reason for concern because you are tracking a concern in the mean state of climate.”
Rech said the real question is how historically abnormal this weather is considered to be.
“We need to question if we’ve ever had a winter this warm with little snow in the last 100 years and if we keep track over the next decade or so does this become more common,” Rech said.
Seth Binau, the Science and Operations Officer at National Weather Services in Wilmington, Ohio, also said assumptions cannot be made based on one season or part of a season.
“You have to look at longer term trends on how the atmosphere is behaving if you want to make any big conclusions,” Binau said. “It’s best to look at 10 or 20 year running averages, sometimes even longer than that to determine what the speed of the atmosphere is long-term.”
Rech said there’s a possibility for a major cold front to come through during March or April, but Binau predicts otherwise.
“Now that we are heading into March, the threat of any winter-like weather is disappearing rather quickly,” Binau said. “After spring we are focusing on severe weather, not winter weather.”
The warmer temperatures and lack of snow has made life easier for Miami sophomore Chelsea Menke.
“I’ve experienced Ohio weather when it has snowed a ton and made driving extremely difficult,” Menke said. “So I prefer mild winters, especially in college since I’m walking everywhere.”
In the meantime, Oxford can allocate the saved money towards city improvement and Binau’s advice provides an important perspective regarding the interpretation of this year and last year’s dissimilar winters.
“If you are going to make any big conclusions, you don’t want to look at just one warm winter or even two warm winters,” Binau said. “You need to keep in mind long-term.”