Warmer weather a plus for shade business

Custom made shade structure by Kiwi Shade.

Despite the fact that it's technically still winter, signs of spring are already appearing.

For Kiwi Shade in Murrells Inlet, the sun is a friend not a foe. Interest in their shade structures began earlier this year than expected.

"With the warm weather, we're off to a faster start than last year. Very cold last January and February, so business was a little slow. With the warm weather it brings out the need for shade, and people are calling in early with interest, and our order rate is reflecting that," explained owner Craig McNair. "They're remembering last summer and how they burned up and getting an early start, getting the shade structure solution in place so they don't have to endure that again.

The mild winter is also affecting sea life. Dr. Dennis Allen with the University of South Carolina's Belle W. Baruch Institute for Marine and Coastal Sciences studies fish, shrimp, and crabs. He says water temperatures are up and suspects once the final numbers are in, it will be one of the warmest in the last 30 years. Allen says warmer waters can affect animal migration and reproduction.

You may be wondering if 70 degree weather now means even higher temperatures in the summer.

NewsChannel 15's Chief Meteorologist Ed Piotrowski explains there's no correlation between the two. "A very cold winter or a very warm winter does not necessarily reflect on anything that will happen through summer. This upcoming summer, just because it's been warm this winter, may be hot, maybe not," he says. "We've actually had mild winters before. This one just has been a very mild winter from beginning through two thirds of the way so far, and all indications are that February will be at or above normal as well."

Some plants in our area are also blooming early including loropetalum. Its flowers usually don't blossom until March.

"Mother Nature is very much fooled right now. If we get a couple nights where it gets below freezing, all that's going to go back into dormancy," says Piotrowski.

The first day of spring is March 20.