The good news is that even if we miss the public ice harvest on Saturday, continuing extreme cold weather over the coming 10 days should allow for a decent ice harvest in late January or early February.
What impact this sudden freeze will have on this year’s maple syruping operation, which is just getting underway, is still uncertain. To date, Farmer Jim has been able to collect 170 gallons of sap from approximately 100 tapped sugar maples. But the sub-freezing temperatures have stopped the flow for now.
Climate studies are an interest of mine (is this an unusual hobby?) and it’s interesting to note that while 2013 was a relatively cool year for New Jersey, a trend that continues into 2014, globally 2013 ranked as the 4th hottest ever recorded, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Current predictions are that there's a 50% chance for El Nino conditions to develop in mid-2014, a naturally variable warming of the South Pacific ocean that often leads to the greatest spikes in global temperature. When natural and man-made climate forcings (such as adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere) combine, that sets the stage for setting and all-time hottest year record.