Winter 2013-14, in Kosovo.
It's snowed maybe twice, for less than a centimeter each time. Since the second week of January, it's hardly gone below freezing. Right now -- Sunday, February 16 -- it's about 15 C or 60 Fahrenheit outside on a sunny blue day. It looks and feels like April, not February. Germia Park (the big park that starts a couple of hundred meters from our house) is full of people strolling, kids in the playgrounds. Flowers are blooming, and a few insects are cautiously investigating them. Our kids have spent much of the weekend in the yard, jumping up and down on the trampoline with the neighbor kids. The mild, unseasonably warm weather is predicted to continue through at least the end of next week, at which point we're almost out of time for winter to make a comeback.
American readers -- who have had a very hard winter indeed, with two Polar Vortexes and multiple massive snowstorms -- may not be delighted to read this. But apparently it's all part of the same thing: the same jet stream diversion that's bringing horrible weather to much of North America has drawn mild, gentle weather up into much of Europe.
Here in Kosovo, this is very much of a mixed blessing. It's kept our heating costs down. In fact, it may have kept our house habitable -- our current residence is a large, new rental house with a very damaged and dysfunctional heating system. We're really not sure how it would have handled many days of very cold weather, and we're glad not to have to find out. And the bit of steep road going up to our driveway never gets plowed (most places in Kosovo never get plowed). A foot or two of snow could have made that problematic.
But: Kosovo relies on a certain amount of rain and snow in the winter for water. The winter has been dry as well as warm. There's not much snowpack on the mountains. The local reservoirs are all low -- you can drive past them and see vast stretchs of dry ground that used to be under water. Pristina is likely to run out of water this summer. A partial fix is possible by pumping water from the Ibar River, over on the other side of the country. But it's only a partial fix, because the Ibar is a small river that doesn't provide enough water for a city of half a million people. Also, the water has to be pumped uphill, and that's expensive. So, unless the next few months are very wet indeed, we're probably looking at water hours this summer.
(How will this affect local farmers? Honestly not sure. Kosovo used to use a lot of irrigation, back in the 1980s. Like a lot of other things in Kosovo, that went to hell in the 1990s and has only just barely started to recover. So, most local agriculture doesn't involve irrigation. That suggests to me that they'd be hit hard by a dry summer, but won't much care about dry winters as long as the water table doesn't sink. But it's not my area.)
Anyway: it's a lovely day outside. Worrisome if you think about it too much, but lovely.
(Update: by midafternoon, it's so warm that we spotted a bunch of little lizards on the south-facing bank of dirt across the street, scrambling around trying to bask off their winter sleep. David, Jacob and Leah are out with a neighbor kid right now trying to catch one.)