Rare Winter Warmth

The last day of January goes out like a lamb... and other old wives' tales.

"What so rare as a day in June?" or so claims 'The Bard'.

While Shakespeare may have been talking about June in England, people may be thinking the same here in the MOV!   ...In January!

Typically, we would expect winter weather to be cold and brisk, but January has been unseasonably warm and today is no exception.

Some thermometers are registering 65 F in the valley, and flowers and being tricked into budding early.

Of course, they shouldn't, and they will be arrested in their development by the next outbreak of frigid air... which has to happen in February.

The cold air pools up in Canada and farther north, making runs down into "the lower 48" several times during the normal winter.

When I visit schools and try to explain it to grade school kids, I frequently use the image of pouring slow, chilled maple syrup on the north pole and watching it coat the ice cap before flowing down the sides of the globe. (For those of us who remember the old Sherman Williams logo, "We cover the Earth", that's the general idea!)

Another popular image is to describe winter storms as a cake beater that your mom uses to mix food coloring into cake batter.  The storm acts as the mixing point, drawing cold air down and wrapping warm are around it as it travels.  This usually gets the point across.

But I hate the local term "January Thaw" because it incorrectly suggests that every year MUST have a major thaw during the month, when that's not the case.

Nowhere is it written that we will have to have a thaw... although old timers have noticed the pattern and given it a name.

What happens is that outbreaks of cold air retreat, or moderate...and warmer air from the tropics advance to replace it...temporarily.

The frequency of this alternation is a function of many things, including how many dips in the jet stream we have in this year's pattern... how El Nino has set up, and more.

But who cares how the mechanics set up... get outside and enjoy the 60+ degree day. It surely can't last!

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