Sunny, with a high in the upper 50s, is not what you think of when you think November on Martha’s Vineyard. Not that we’re complaining, but after nearly a month of warm weather it’s definitely something worth wondering, if not worrying about.
We all relish in the warm day here and there. But this has not been a case of a few scattered sixty-degree days. This has, in fact, been the warmest November on record on Martha’s Vineyard since 1975.
According to Rob Carolan, President and Chief Meteorologist, of Hometown Forecast Services, Inc that services , the warm weather is, “Likely due to an ongoing La Nina in the eastern and central Pacific ocean. La Ninas occur when the surface water temperatures off the coast of Chile and Peru drop below normal. We’ve seen this develop through the fall this year. La Ninas are known for producing milder then normal weather in the fall in New England.”
While we are content to watch the woodpile stay exactly where it was when we stacked it and many of us are breathing a sigh of relief over the heat bills so far, you can’t help but wonder what this warm weather will mean to the plants and animals. Suzan Bellincampi, Sanctuary Director at said she recently got a call about a box turtle. “That is a very odd sighting for this time of year,” said Bellincampi. “They should be nestled a few feet down in the mud by now.”
Another odd thing that Bellincampi has noticed as a result of the warm weather is that her bees are still active. “By now the bees should be dormant, hovering together in a ball and using very little energy, but they’re not. They’re still flying around and so I’m a little worried they are going to use up some of the energy they will need to get through the winter.”
According to Carolan, “If the weather continues, it could start to throw off some of the hibernation cycles of animals such as bears and skunks. In regards to other animals, it’s helpful since they can continue to forage without worrying about snowfall.”
As far as plants are concerned, both Carolan and Bellincampi think there’s not much danger, as long as the warm temps don’t continue.
“The average temperature this November will end up being around 50 degrees. The last time it was that warm was in 1975.”
Carolan can’t say definitively that any of this is due to climate change and can only state that more likely the warm weather is a direct effect of La Nina.
"The beauty of weather is that you really can't say what will happen," said Bellincampi. This past weekend was the Fall Festival at Felix Neck, and according to Bellencampi it was much better attended this year compared with last. “Last year we had snow coming sideways during Fall Festival.” And while she acknowledges that the weather is a little unnerving, she does think it’s good for people to be thinking and talking about weather.
“My guess is that if it stays like this through December and January, we’ll be having a different conversation,” said Bellincampi.