mild winter

A fake snowball fight at Hurkamp Park was the only one possible so far.

I’M THINKING of proposing a new name for the season we’re in, which used to earn the right to be called winter.

My new suggestion: Sprin-ter, because more often than not 2020 has felt like an invasion of spring instead of Old Man Winter.

It really hit home this weekend when I was pulling something out of the cabinet and spotted a stack of heavy wool socks.

Normally by this time of year, I’d have gone in there nearly a dozen times, especially if we’d had the handful of snows that used to be part of winter here.

This year the box has been untouched. Warmer temperatures and a total lack of serious snow have kept me from reaching in there even once.

Of course, I realize that this winter of snow-lovers’ discontent is nowhere near over, and a blast of cold and snow could arrive anytime this month or next to make me wish I’d kept my big mouth shut.

But it’s been fairly clear to anyone paying attention that something’s been different, with temperatures reaching 70 degrees not once or twice, but a handful of times.

Normally, I put my bike away in October and pull it back out in March or April when warmer days return. This year, I’ve taken several long rides in nothing but bike shorts and a long-sleeved T-shirt, and was soaked in sweatwhen I got back.

The up-and-down temperatures have left a poor ornamental cherry tree in our front yard as confused about blooming as parents trying to dress youngsters heading off to school.

It’s already on at least its third blooming of the year, and who knows if more are on the way?

Even worse, the grass in my yard is looking like it’s greening up and getting ready to start growing again, something I certainly don’t want to happen early.

A quick look at the highs and lows for January and February in the Weather Channel’s records for Fredericksburg tracks this oddly warm start to 2020.

Through Monday, there have only been two days when the high temperature didn’t get out of the 30s. But there have been three days when the high was in the 70s, five days when it was in the 60s and 18 days when the high temperature was in the 50s.

The average high for January is 45, and 49 for February.

Low temperatures have been more in line with other years, often dipping into the 20s or 30s.

According to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information, 2020 kicked off with a balmy start for most of the U.S., making January 2020 the fifth-warmest January on record. All 48 contiguous states saw above- to much-above-average temperatures last month.

And the Midwestern Regional Climate Center notes that most areas east of the Rockies have recorded above-average temperatures since meteorological winter began Dec. 1.

The center says a ridge of high pressure has dominated the East for most of this winter, making conditions favorable for warmer temperatures. Although there have been blasts of colder air from time to time, below-average temperatures have not typically lasted for more than a couple of days.

A look at forecast highs for the next two weeks show the trend will continue for at least that long, with one day’s high expected to be in the 60s, 10 days hitting the 50s, two topping out in the 40s and only one not getting out of the 30s.

There’s a mention of the possibility of snow showers on Feb. 20 and 21, though the highs on both days are forecast in the 50s, so at this point, it doesn’t look like a major snow event.

I thought of snow this weekend when friends in Tennessee shared pictures of a beautiful snowfall there. It’s nice to have one or two of those each year, because they bring beauty and sometimes a break from the helter-skelter pace of life.

But the best kind of snowstorms to me are the ones that happen on weekends, provide just enough snowfall to play in and then melt when things warm up a day or two later.

This year, I’m not sure we’re even going to get one of those.

I hope this warmer-than-usual winter doesn’t point to a hotter-than-normal summer. Normal heat around here in July and August is plenty.

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415

rhedelt@freelancestar.com

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