How hot was it, Johnny?: I can only imagine what kind of late-night cracks about the weather we d be getting now if Johnny Carson was still alive and on the airwaves.
For the record, you re not imagining things if you thought the first half of 2007 was warmer and drier than normal. It was.
According to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C., the global average temperature was the second warmest on record for the January-to-June period. It also was the warmest June on record for the South Pole.
In the continental United States, it was the 18th-warmest period on record for those six months, dating to 1895. The only state that got a cooler-than-average break was Texas.
Widespread drought, an early start to the wildfire season, and crop losses resulted. Yet rain from Texas to Kansas was so heavy in June that flooding occurred.
This past winter also was the warmest on record worldwide, according to NOAA.
The evidence circumstantial or not keeps mounting, regardless what you think of Al Gore.
Just in case you were getting over your emerald ash borer blues: Another non-native, wood-boring insect has made its way into Michigan.
An announcement about a pest called the Sirex Woodwasp was made with little fanfare July 16 by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A native of Europe, western Asia, and northern Africa, it attacks commercial pine trees.
Gee. First, beautiful shady ash trees. Now, beautiful shady pine trees. What s next? An exotic pest that cleans out your bank account and steals your collection of classic vinyl LPs?
As if this is a consolation, there are these words of comfort from Mitch Irwin, director of the Michigan Department of Agriculture: We don t anticipate this pest to have a major economic impact on the state s nursery, landscape, and Christmas tree industries. We will, however, vigorously monitor this exotic pest and its potential to impact on our forest systems.
Like the emerald ash borer, the Sirex Woodwasp turned up in the suburban Detroit area this time in Macomb County. The first sighting of it in North America was in Oswego, N.Y., in 2004. Before arriving in southeastern Michigan, it spread throughout central New York, northern Pennsylvania, and southern Ontario.
I d like to think this wasp is as benign as the agencies said it appears to be. Something tells me, though, that the emotional toll this region has experienced in its losing battle against the emerald ash borer has deflated a lot of spirits.
Keep your fingers crossed: The bacteria count at Maumee Bay State Park s inland beach has been relatively low this summer. The park s Lake Erie beach hasn t fared quite as well, but there have been fewer advisories posted there than in years past.
There s a direct correlation between bacteria and storms, though. Keep in mind we ve been pretty dry most of the summer.
There s been a general decline in beach advisories along the western part of Lake Erie the past two summers. That could be related to a more straightforward sampling program that s in its second year.
Once again, the granddaddy of Ohio s state park system East Harbor State Park in Ottawa County continues to post results that are hard to beat. Lakeview beach in Port Clinton is doing pretty well too.