I took this shot of a red squirrel four years ago, in February 2012, when we had two weeks of temperatures well below zero and snow as well. Our lane was like an ice-rink, it took 10 minutes to warm up and scrape the car in the morning and our woodpile diminished visibly.
On the coldest morning in 2012, it was about minus 15°C here. Our neighbours down the hill recorded minus 18°C. This year, the temperature has often been above plus 10°C in the morning – a divergence of more than 25°C. This demonstrates the extremes of temperature we can experience here in winter.
This is the third unseasonably mild winter in succession. The plants are coming up or in bud several weeks in advance of normal. I noticed yesterday that our viburnum was covered in honey bees (although I read that they do come out on warm days, so this may not be unusual). And we have hardly fed the birds at all this winter, since there are plenty of insects and other food. I would have expected the fly population to thrive – like last year when our windows were black with them. But fortunately, this isn’t so.
Weather assessment for January
Mild weather in winter generally means rain. December bucked the trend, being both mild and dry, but we ricocheted from that into a very damp January.
We assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In January we had:
Plus – 7
Zero – 10
Minus – 14
So it was a pretty dismal month, although not the worst January we’ve had. The graph shows the percentage of plus days each January for the past 18 years (the line is the trend – in this case resolutely downwards). There have been two the same and six worse.
We have kept rainfall stats since August 2004. January is often a wet month, but this January was well over the average of 95.3mm with 141mm. And it rained on 19 days instead of the 13 we would normally expect.
We keep telling ourselves we needed the rain after such a dry autumn, but it’s hard to be objective when our lane turns into a quagmire and we are longing for a ray of sunshine.
The mild weather is reflected in the number of frost nights: only five in January and 18 for the winter so far.
It could all change radically, but the forecast for the coming week is mild with (groan) more rain and our experience is that after mid-February very cold weather is unlikely. I’m crossing my fingers hard as I write this – well, metaphorically anyway.
Here’s a weather dicton (saying), of which French country people are so fond:
Février avec neige nous garantit un bel été (snow in February guarantees a good summer).
I think I’ll vote for no snow.
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