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Poor Will's Almanack: December 30, 2014 - January 5, 2015

Andrea Marutti
Flickr Creative Commons

One of the easiest ways to get a little control over winter is to count the major cold fronts that reach your house between now and the middle of February (when earliest spring often arrives along the 40th Parallel). See how many of those cold fronts you can record on your calendar. If you have a barometer or thermometer, you can follow them by making graph of ups and downs! Or you can cheat by checking the Internet.

The good news is that the six major cold fronts of early winter have already gone through. And you can almost count the remaining fronts on two hands –well, if you have six fingers on each hand.

This week we begin Deep Winter with the January 1st Front: like early winter Deep Winter also has six significant cold waves, and it lasts from the 1st through the 25th of January. Average temperatures in this season are the lowest of the year, but owls are nesting, and the tufted titmouse chatters its song of courtship.

And then there is Late Winter: This period contains five to six major cold fronts and lasts from January 26 through February 18. Average temperatures start to rise throughout the nation now. Sap runs in the maples. By the arrival of earliest spring in the third week of February, the day is more than an hour longer than it was at solstice, birds are singing before sunup, skunks, groundhogs, opossums and raccoons are looking for mates.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of deep winter and the fourth week of the Marauding mouse Moon, the third full week of the sun in Capricorn, and the sixth week of the new natural year. In the meantime, start counting those cold waves.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.