Maine Lobster Men Bask in Global Warming

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Warm weather and mild temperatures causes divide among Maine Residents.

I remember spending two hours every morning just breaking the ice in the cove just so I could get my skiff out to my boat

While the world press is awash in stories outlining the dangers of global warming, Maine lobster men are basking in relative warmth and benign weather conditions during a fishing season that has traditionally been harsh and unrelenting.

Typically, only the hardiest of Maine lobster men keep their traps in year round and brave the ice and fierce cold of a normal Maine winter. In years past, the average low temperature at 4:30 am, when many Maine lobster men head out for work, hovered in the low single digits Fahrenheit. This year it has been in the 30s and 40s.

"I remember spending two hours every morning just breaking the ice in the cove just so I could get my skiff out to my boat," said Jim Wallace, 47, a seasoned third-generation lobster man from Small Point, Maine. "The past couple of years there has been very little ice, and this year none at all," he said.

The Northeast hasn't been freezing under your grandfather's cold weather pattern, a phenomenon scientists predict will continue through winter.

Scientists at NOAA ( National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) predict a January and February about 2 percent warmer than the 30-year average, citing both the oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific, aka El Nino, as well as long-term climate trends.

For Gary Roy, owner of Lobster-s.com, the warm winter makes getting fresh lobsters easier. "I buy my lobsters direct from lobster men daily, and will only ship lobsters the same day that they are caught. In previous years, I've had to travel up and down the Maine coast to find a group of lobster men that haven't been frozen in. This year, none of the locals were frozen in, and I haven't had to travel at all," he said.

Unlike Maine fishermen, not all Maine residents are happy with the record warm temperatures. For snowmobilers, cross-country, and downhill skiers and the businesses that serve them, the long string of unusually mild days adds to their despair as well as financial loss.

Snowmobile sales are far lower this year than previous years. "Sales have been terrible, very slow. We still have 2006 models left over in the crates," said George Gherardi, owner of White Rock Outboard in Gorham. "I've been in the business since 1969 and I've never seen it this bad."

The weather is certainly causing a great divide among long-time Maine residents. In one camp there are those that long for cold and snow of a typical Maine winter. In the other, those who's life is made easier by the lack of it.

Nowhere is that divide more evident than in the snowplowing business. On the one hand, the snow removal budgets of New England towns and cities shows a significant surplus for this time of year, while private contractors suffer a dramatic loss from the lack of income that they depend on in the winter.

When will more normal winter conditions return to Maine? Meteorologists can't say for sure. Right now, Maine lobster men can continue to bask in the relative warmth of global warming.

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