Bizarre winter may have lasting effects - Freezing cold and freakish warmth throw nature for a loop. Experts say their peculiar winter, which officially ends Friday, may indeed have some lasting effects on the fauna and flora of greater Chicago. The bitter, sub-zero freeze of January might have slain swarms of city rats, while the lashing winds might have fatally sucked the moisture from some evergreen trees. But the snow that blanketed the ground for much of the season insulated the subterranean lairs of mice and shrews, while the heavy rains created mosquito havens. And the burst of mid-March warmth might actually mean trouble for trees like the magnolia, which could begin to bud early only to be smacked with a crippling, early spring freeze. "That'll bring everything to a screeching halt."
Image: (Tribune photo by Charles Cherney / March 16, 2009)
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