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Watching the Temperatures Change

Watching the Temperatures Change

I like winter.  Maybe it is because I was born in Michigan where winter comes early and stays late, or it is because I am warm-natured.  I do not know why, but I like winter.  Now that I went out on the limb with my inclination towards winter, let me qualify.  Few of us, myself included, like the single digit temperatures and 20mph winds we had earlier this month.  Most of my Northern friends were also miserable as they endured temperatures in the negative teens and wind chills in the negative thirties, forties, or fifties.  Those conditions are not only miserable; they are deadly.  What I want my Alabama friends to understand is that the miserable times come with the storms, and the pleasant times are in between.

Early in December, we received a freak snowstorm in the State.  Snow fell from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee line.  At my little cabin in the Talladega woods, I received three or four inches of the early wet stuff.  It was beautiful.  My Buster dog and I had an enjoyable few days as we hiked alone through the mountains.  It was a wet snow, and the flakes were large.  This is typical of early and late season snows.  In Buffalo, NY where I lived in the nineties, this snow would occur in October and April.  This is a dangerous snow.  The weight of the moisture content in the snow broke many limbs out of my large pines, and snapped my ten-foot saplings in two.  On Columbus Day 2005, a snow like this hit Buffalo while the trees still had their colorful leaves attached.  Branches and trees came crashing to the ground; causing Western New York to shut down.  Disaster Relief chainsaw crews from around the nation converged on Buffalo as the city had to dig out of the snow and cut up a hurricane-style tree mess.

Since that December 2017, snow melted, Birmingham has enjoyed the typical winter weather and the fluctuations of mercury within the thermometer.  Many nights we had a couple of extra quilts on our bed only to wake to a cold house wanting for need of a fire.  However, a few nights we opened the windows and enjoyed a cool not cold 50-degree night.  Last week in mid-January, God blessed us with another snow.  Temperatures were colder than the first snow, so this snow was a powder.  Again, the wind was blowing, so that part of the storm smarted, but the snow was so light and dry, I went outside and swept our porch and sidewalks clean.  At the cabin, we ended up with about 1½ to 2” of snow.  Sure, it was an inconvenience for a few days, but everything closed; leave your car parked and enjoy the long weekend.  Think about it, we received the snow on Tuesday and Wednesday, by Saturday, all of the snow was gone and we had highs in the 60s.  Yesterday we hit 72 at the cabin!  Even in Philadelphia, at the NFC Championship game, they had a balmy 47-degree temperature at kickoff.

This is why I like winter the weather changes.  Even in the northern states, the temperature fluctuates.  As we were experiencing the snow of last week, my relatives in Michigan were looking at grass.  As the coldest part of winter, approaches on Groundhog’s Day try not to complain.  Go with the flow.  What is here today will probably be gone tomorrow.  Do not let the sensationalism of television news worry you to a tizzy.  Embrace the change, remember, this summer we will have ‘weeks’ of daytime temperatures in the high 90s with lows in the mid-70s with no change in sight.

Garden Talk is written by Andrew J. Baril of the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, C. Beaty Hanna Horticulture & Environmental Center, which is based at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  This column includes research-based information from land-grant universities around the country, including Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities.  Email questions to ajb0012@auburn.edu, or call 205 879-6964. Learn more about what is going on in Jefferson County by visiting the ACES website, www.aces.edu/Jefferson or checking us on Facebook and Twitter.  The Alabama Cooperative Extension System (Alabama A&M and Auburn Universities), is an equal opportunity employer and educator.  Everyone is welcome!