3 issues we could face because of the warmer winter

With a winter warmer than usual and bereft of snow, signs of spring are already appearing in the Miami Valley more than a month before the season officially begins.

The mild winter has helped street and highway departments go easy on the road salt, but the warm weather may instead kick up severe weather sooner, exacerbate allergies and threaten crops.

Potential for early, long severe weather season: Temperatures are running five degrees above normal so far this month and are expected to climb into the 60s this weekend. The above-normal warming could trigger earlier severe weather. Some severe storms have already impacted the region.

Pollen detected early: The Regional Air Pollution Control Agency (RAPCA) told Storm Center 7 meteorologists that tree pollen was detected as early as late January this year and noted pollen levels had increased over the last several days.

Plants vulnerable to late freeze, early pests: Such a prolonged period of warmth would likely kick off an early growing season but leave plants vulnerable to a hard freeze if winter reappears.

When winter is mild, pathogens that would have otherwise been killed or suppressed by the cold temperatures survive and get an early start infecting crops, according to Ohio State University researchers Brian Hodge and Pierce Paul.

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