The unusual winter weather this season, from the mild temperatures to the scarce snowfall, has resulted in a complicated give-and-take for the U.S. economy.
The lack of snow has meant few days on the road for plowers and a bundle of money being saved on labor costs, salt and other supplies.
According to Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) Information Specialist Erin Waters, "As far as our winter service expenditures, as of Dec. 31, 2011, we had spent $37.8 million. Last winter through that same time, we had spent $55.3 million."
"Our salt usage through Dec. 31, 2011, was 32,000 tons. During that same time period for 2010, we had used 94,000 tons," she added.
Many townships have had similar savings.
"The small number of winter maintenance call-outs has resulted in a savings in employee overtime costs, contracted winter maintenance services and material costs," Public Works Director Mark Whitfield of Centre County, Pa., said.
However, the surplus money is not something townships are celebrating, yet. Many have decided to save the money in case of a later, more severe winter.
"I am always hesitant to say that we have saved a lot of money in the middle of the winter, because the savings can evaporate rather quickly. It is easier to answer this question in mid-April than in mid- January," Whitfield said. "I think it is important to remember that in the past, we have used an entire annual winter maintenance budget in one month."
Some places have used the opportunity to work on maintenance projects that would typically be on hold this time of year.
"Because of the mild conditions, we were able to keep many construction zones open longer," Walters said.
Hennepin County in Minnesota is no exception.
"In addition to maintaining regular snow and ice control operations, the county has had opportunity to complete some road repair work typically reserved for the spring and fall. These duties have included shoulder repairs along our rural highways, as well as asphalt crack sealing operations," Chris Sagsveen said, Division Manager for the Road and Bridge Operations Division of the Transportation Department of Hennepin County.
Additionally, the warmer temperatures have meant lower heating costs for many people, leaving extra spending money in the pockets of many Americans.
In a winter that has not yet demanded we stock up on shovels and snowblowers, where are Americans allotting their spare funds? Are we saving or spending?
It appears that this season's less active winter weather may have been a dream come true to retailers. According to ComScore, a market research organization, Consumers spent $35.3 billion online between Nov. 1, 2011, and Dec. 26, 2011, 15% more than consumers spent online in the same time period in 2010.
Matthew has become a hurricane in the Caribbean and may approach the U.S. during next week.
It will feel like an extended winter for those living from the northern Plains to the eastern U.S., as cold and snowy conditions last longer than normal.
Persistent downpours will raise the flood risk in part of the mid-Atlantic into Friday, while rain will spread over the balance of the northeastern United States into the weekend.
Millions of people across the U.S. could be exposed to drinking water contaminated with chemicals from firefighting foam, according to a recent study.
The final day of September will bring a rare lunar event that hasn’t occurred since March of 2014, a Black Moon.
The holiday weekend will start on an unsettled note, but the weather should improve by Day of German Unity celebrations on Monday.
Colorado Springs (1959)
A storm produced 28 inches of snow.
Reno, NV (1982)
Snow fell for the first time in 93 years in the month of September. Town received 1.5 inches the night before, surpassing the old record of 0.5 inches set back in 1889.
Violent thunderstorms along a cold front. 2-4 inches of rain and 60-mph winds in places. Lawrence, KS, had golf ball-sized hail and winds to 80 mph.