Winter Weather: Spring in the U.S. Is Arriving Several Weeks Early, Disrupting Bees and Spreading Disease

The Northeast may be facing a winter storm right now, but recent data from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) revealed that spring has arrived nearly a month early in many parts of the U.S., including the West Coast, the Southwest and the mid-South. While many Americans may enjoy the unexpected sunshine, the USGS warned that early spring could trigger unpleasant consequences.

The arrival of spring is measured by mapping temperature trends and plant activity. In the U.S., this data is compiled by the National Phenology Network (NPN), which was created in 2007 to collect, store and share data on climate, as well as plant and animal life. Recent data show that compared with the average from 1981 through 2010, spring has arrived between two and three weeks early throughout the United States. For example, spring is 22 days early in Cincinnati, and two weeks early in Baltimore.

Related: Strange Winter Weather: After 78-Degree Day in New York, Minnesota Might Get a Foot of Snow

The sudden arrival could have several consequences.

“While these earlier springs might not seem like a big deal—and who among us doesn’t appreciate a balmy day or a break in dreary winter weather—it poses significant challenges for planning and managing important issues that affect our economy and our society,” said Jake Weltzin, a USGS ecologist and the executive director of the USA-NPN, the USGS reported.

A number of animal migrations and plant flowerings are closely tied to the changing of the seasons, according to the NPN. Early spring means flowers will bloom earlier, which can disrupt the behavior of birds, bees and butterflies, the USGS reported. This disturbance can affect the pollination so critical to both flowers and crops.

Related: NASA Map Reveals Drastic U.S. Weather Change in Past Eight Years

The early onset of warmer weather also gives certain species more time to live and thrive—including ticks. According to NPR, the number of Lyme disease cases in the U.S. have more than tripled in the past 30 years. Ticks are the main carriers of Lyme disease, and some believe that warmer weather for longer periods of time may be part of the problem.

spring Spring is early in the United States, but it's no cause for celebration. USGS

It isn't just humans who are suffering from booming tick populations. As temperatures rise and winters shorten, the pests are killing moose populations throughout North America. Ticks by the tens of thousands can latch onto a moose, living off its blood. With more time to do this, the arachnids are weakening adults and killing calves, Inside Climate News reported.

This year’s early spring is the most recent evidence of growing research showing that the overall temperature in the U.S. has risen in not even a decade.