January usually means harsh winds, bone-chilling temperatures and lots of snow, but not this year. From the Midwest to Maine, snowfall has been below normal and temperatures have been above normal.

"Looking at the weather map and temperatures across the nation one would never realize that it is the middle of January," the National Weather Service said in a statement Monday night after the mercury had climbed into the 40s and 50s across much of the country. Temperatures early Tuesday generally were in the 30s and 40s.The relatively mild season has been a boon to motorists, joggers and municipal budgets but a bane for snowmobile dealers, winter festival organizers and some ski resort operators.

"We've really had to scrap with nature to get every bit of snow this year," Matt Kelly said at Brodie Mountain Ski Resort in western Massachusetts, which reluctantly "loaned" Grafton, N.Y., snow for its winter festival last weekend.

Meteorologists say climatic conditions, such as upper-atmosphere winds, haven't encouraged the kind of storms that leave a heavy snow cover.

"It's pretty free of snow from the southern and central Plains to the Atlantic Coast," Hugh Crowther of the National Severe Storms Forecast Center in Kansas City, Mo., said Tuesday.

"They have quite a bit of snow across the Northern tier, but it's remaining up there."

Much of the area from Burlington, Vt., to Bangor, Maine, was as brown and bare Monday as it was last summer.