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Poor Will's Almanack: February 14 - 20, 2017

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Marilylle Soveran
/
Flickr Creative Commons

Today, February 14, is the first day of early spring throughout the Lower Midwest. Although temperatures can be in the 30s almost half the time or even in the 20s, February 14th suddenly offers a 50 percent chance of highs above 40 degrees.

And tomorrow, the 15th has the highest incidence of highs in the 50s and 60s of any time so far in February - a full 40 percent of the afternoons reach those levels. That’s the first time since December 15th that the likelihood of mild temperatures has been so great.

And like these statistics provide a clear border to winter:  December 15th is the pivot date for the arrival of really severe weather all across the Great Lakes region; February 15th is clearly the spring pivot date.

Depending on the year, growth now occurs on ragwort, dock, sweet rocket, asters, winter cress, poison hemlock, sedum, mint, celandine, plantain, poppies, pansies, daffodils, tulips, crocus, aconite, hyacinth, strawberries.

All their hardy leaves are expanding a centimeter here or there, such measurements seeming unimportant until they can measure spring, and then there is no insignificant degree. The signs accelerate, accumulate, and become a new season, turning into what they represent by force of numbers.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the second week of early spring. In the meantime, remember, even if the weather is cold and snowy, spring really begins today.

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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.