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In northern hemisphere, it's too warm for winter

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  • npat1
    In northern hemisphere, it s too warm for winter As autumn ends, pollen s up and snow skiing is down Monday, December 04, 2006 BY ALEXANDRA ZAWADIL REUTERS
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 4, 2006
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      In northern hemisphere, it's too warm for winter
      As autumn ends, pollen's up and snow skiing is down
      Monday, December 04, 2006

      VIENNA, Austria -- Flowers are blooming on the slopes of Alpine ski
      resorts and bears are having trouble hibernating in Siberia amid a
      late start to winter that may be a portent of global warming.

      Rare December pollen is troubling asthma sufferers as far north as
      Scandinavia, sales of winter clothing are down and Santa Claus is
      having to reassure children his sleigh will take off on Christmas Eve,
      snow or no snow.

      From Ottawa to Moscow, temperatures have been way above average at
      the start of the winter in the northern hemisphere -- with exceptions
      including a rare snowstorm in Dallas, Texas.

      Like many places, Austria has had the mildest autumn since records
      began and many ski resorts have delayed the season's start. Snow
      cannons are idling on green slopes that would usually be snow- covered
      ski runs, shrinking the billion-dollar winter business.

      "The mountain peaks are shining white -- but not white enough that we
      can expect skiers to go there," said Martin Ebster, tourism director
      of St. Anton in the Arlberg ski resort, which postponed the season
      start to next weekend.

      Meteorologists have recorded the azure trumpet-shaped Alpine gentian
      flower as high as 3,609 feet in the Austrian Alps, and the vernal
      forsythia in some valleys.

      Yet even though glaciers are re ceding and snows are getting less
      predictable, all is not gloom for the resorts.

      At Austria's Ischgl, which relies heavily on nightlife and counted
      Paris Hilton and rock star Pink among visitors last season, 25 percent
      of ski runs are open and bars are crowded.

      And the Soelden resort, where the first ski race of the World Cup
      season had to be canceled in October, now has enough snow to step in
      for France's Val d'Isere and Swiss St. Moritz, which may have to scrap
      next weekend's races.

      The Swiss Retail association said the warmth contributed to a 3.4
      percent year-on-year fall in September sales of clothes and shoes
      because of low sales of winter clothing.

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