Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Phenology: February 14, 2011

Posted by Kirk
What a difference a week makes! Hello warm weather! Sunrise this morning was at 7:15 am and sunset at 5:39 pm. This means we've gained 20 minutes of daylight since last Monday and an hour and thirty eight minutes since the Winter Solstice on December 21st.

The 83% illuminated waxing gibbous moon rises this afternoon at 1:31 pm. The planet Jupiter is still visible in the western sky at sunset though it quickly drops below the horizon by about 8:30 pm. Even with a pair of binoculars you can make out the four moons Io, Europe, Ganymede and Callisto as four bright dots of light all in a row next to Jupiter.

The deep cold cycle started to break this weekend when we pulled above freezing. Sunday in the Twin Cities we got up to an incredible 47° F. The warm weather melted our snow pack down from about 14 inches to 11 or 10. The warm stretch this week should reduce that even further.

When will the snow disappear? Last year wasn't particularly snowy but we held what snow we did have all the way into March. Officially, we lost our winter snow pack on March 11th last year. We had about a foot of snow at the beginning of March and it took two weeks of above freezing temperatures to melt it all away. This warm up is only supposed to last until Saturday so I don't think we'll lose all our snow.

I mentioned last week that the buds were becoming more obvious on the maple trees. Watch closely at the end of the week as the combination of freezing at night and thawing during the day will begin the process of moving water in the trees and we should really start to see swelling buds.

Over the course of the last week, woodpecker drumming really picked up in the woods and I found fresh wood shavings on the snow which could be an indication of nest cavity building.

If you look out in the woods you'll notice some of the trees still have their leaves from autumn. These are the white oaks. They hold their leaves all winter long and drop them early spring instead of in the fall.

Enjoy this warm week. Spring is on the way.