Wild Side: enjoying a regular winter
The snow stopped falling in the morning on Valentines' Day, some blue sky appeared between the clouds and the trees sparkled with a new coating of snow. After a breakfast watching the birds at the feeder we put on snowshoes and hiked around.
It was a beautiful scene with all the tree branches outlined in white. We had to be careful about hitting tree branches to avoid cascades of snow down our necks.
Despite the cold and all the times we've had to clear away snow, we haven't grown weary of winter. It's a good change from last year's heat and drought.
The National Climatic Data Center determined that the national average temperature for the United States last year was the highest since 1985. The Wisconsin statewide 2012 average temperature tied 1998 for the second warmest year behind 1931 during the Dust Bowl.
Now we are enjoying a regular winter. We've had over three feet of snow so far this winter, well on our way to the 1971-2000 long-term average of 47 inches. The rains we had this winter were tough on wildlife and left a strong crust making it fairly easy to walk or ski on top of the snow. The series of Alberta clippers in February delivered dustings to three inches of snow, followed by below-zero weather.
Temperatures have ranged from the teens below zero to 40 degrees recently. Most days have been in the teens or twenties-plus above zero, tolerable to those well-dressed for winter. We have had quite a few sunny days. Now that the sun is getting higher in the sky we can feel the added heat coming in through the south windows of our house.
Heating degree days were close to the long-term average for December and January this winter. We've been burning a small wheelbarrow-full of dry hardwood each day to heat our house and shop.
The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center is forecasting normal temperatures and somewhat above-average precipitation through and April. I hope this helps to ease the drought.
As much as we enjoy the winter here, we look forward to thawing out for a while in the tropics and fishing where we don't have to drill holes in the ice. Maybe when we return in mid-March spring will be on its way.
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