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.
Hurricane Ignacio may enhance showers and stir rough surf for the Hawaiian Islands as it approaches next week.
After Erika brings heavy rain and locally gusty winds from Hispaniola eastern Cuba into Friday night, the system will move toward the Bahamas, the Keys and South Florida this weekend.
As many as seven tropical cyclones were churning throughout the world this past week, while smoke from wildfires across the Pacific Northwest led to poor air quality across the region.
Heat and humidity will return to Harrisburg this weekend and hang on into next week.
Heat will linger in Eastern Europe for much of the fall season; meanwhile, the British Isles and northwestern Europe can expect a stormy end to the season.
As Hurricane Katrina barreled towards the Gulf Coast, peaking at Category 5 strength while feasting on the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, meteorologists around the country prepared to deliver one of the most crucial and life-saving forecasts in history.
Pennsylvania & New Jersey (1971)
Tropical Storm Doria caused severe floods in southeastern PA and NJ. Damage estimated at $138 million.
Colorado Springs, CO (1978)
Hail 6 inches deep.
Rochester, MN (1979)
2.73 inches of rain fell in 50 minutes making this the wettest August on record. (9.52 inches of rain so far this month). The heavy downpour flooded the streets of Rochester, stranding about 1,500 cars.