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Poor Will's Almanack: December 29, 2015 - January 4, 2016

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Each season is the sum of its parts, and deep winter is defined by five major cold waves in much of the country. The first of these weather systems arrives this week, and the second usually by January 5th or 6th. The third and fourth systems, crossing the Mississippi near the 10th and 15th, redouble the cold and bring the lowest temperatures of the year. A fifth system near January 20 is often part of the January thaw, and the sixth and final cold wave of January is statistically the first of late winter, and it gradually leads into the Groundhog Day thaw early in February.

If you have a barometer, you can watch the needle or the digital readings fall as cold fronts approach, and then rise after they pass through your location. If you make a graph of these movements, you get to actually see the weather and note how the alternating highs and lows are like the pulse of the planet. And if you keep your records for a year or two and compare your graphs, and if you keep a record of temperatures, too, and then of sun and precipitation, you can settle in to watch the heartbeats of time visit you at home, connecting you through the currents of wind to all the world.

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. In the meantime, count the cold fronts. Feel the pulse of time.

Bill Felker’s Poor Will’s Almanack for 2016 is now available. For a sample of this new annual, and for information on how to order your copies, visit www.poorwillsalmanack.com

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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.