I thought I would share a few thoughts about North Dakota's weather for those of you who aren't avid weather watchers.
So in partnering with the Old Farmer's Almanac, a gardener's tool, I have put together a few observations about or weather. Now, whether or not I am will be accurate in my guesstimations will remain to be seen.
Let's face it; this has been an outstanding winter to date. This week is our annual January thaw week. Since the temperatures have been above average and running somewhere between 30 and 40 degrees since October's little cold air blast, this week, we saw temps closer to 50-degrees. I have always looked forward to the week of January thaw and a reprieve from the harsh winter weather we are all accustomed to.
Axiom number 1 says that the first three days of January rule the next three months. Wow, we are in for pleasant days because the New Year kicked off mildly.
Secondly, have you heard the birds? If birds begin to whistle in January, frosts to come. We have thousands of Canada geese that have not left the river bottom. Turkeys number about 40, and yes, I have heard some birds. So, following the January thaw, I expect we will be seeing a January freeze.
It has always been in the back of my mind and sometimes spoken aloud that I feel the cold so much more after the days begin to lengthen. I chalked it up to the quiet darkness of December, feeling cozy and warm. However, as the days lengthen, the cold strengthens. The sun is at its farthest south from the earth, and days are about or less than eight hours on the winter solstice. You might expect this to be the coldest time of year but wait. If you put water in the freezer, it first has to cast off its warmth to freeze. So, December seems warmer as the earth begins to cool and then boom – in January, we feel the cold with the lengthening days.
My husband and I argue all the time about whether I can predict the weather by observation. I document the fog days in December and then plan on planting radishes 90 days later when it either rains or snows. My best radishes have indeed been snowed upon. I put the date on the calendar and then plant shortly before the anticipated moisture. I swear it works.
Then, there's the moon. I heard tell that the weather on the day of the full moon will be the average for the next cycle. It changes with lunar cycles.
Whether or not I am correct in my predictions, you have to pay attention to the weather when you farm or garden. It seems like I remember as a child watching my parents check the weather first thing in the morning. When I stayed at my friend's farm in the Red River Valley, they had the weather on the computer's home page.
It is said that no one knows the weather like a farmer. Okay, things are changing with our climate. North Dakota has gained some growing season and is a Zone 3 or 4 depending on whether you reside in the "Banana Belt" region of western North Dakota.
I found a few funny axioms regarding the weather that may or may not be accurate, but it sure is fun to observe Mother Nature in her finest on the Northern Plains.
Oh, and before you get out your garden spade, think. This is still North Dakota and with this mild winter, expect payback in the spring. That includes a heavy frost in May. So, wait to plant those warm crops like tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers and beans until Memorial Day weekend.
Sue B. Balcom
Writing, or maybe talking, comes naturally to me and under the guidance of a great newspaper editor I have acquired skills that led me to author four books.