Poor Will’s Almanack for the Second Week of Late Winter.
Two days from now, on the 31st of January, the sun reaches a declination of 17 degrees 35 minutes, one fourth of its way to spring equinox.
Near this same day, a temperature pivot throws the entire northern and southern halves of the planet into reverse.
And average temperatures start to rise throughout the country.
Your personal thermometers not only mark that process at home, but almost everywhere.
And no matter where the starting point, the interval - the rate of increase -is almost the same in every part of the United States:
During February, for example, the rise in averages at Columbus, Ohio is from 28 to 30 degrees. That interval is matched by Houston's rise from 54 to 56, Memphis' 42 to 45, Juneau's 25 to 27, Denver's 29 to 32, San Francisco's 49 to 51, St Louis' 32 to 35, Chicago's 26 to 28.
In western states more subject to the vast thaws sweeping up from the gulf, the jump is four to five degrees: Minneapolis averages move from 12 to 16 degrees, International Falls' from 3 to 7.
The thermometer then measures space as well as time. If we actually can't see the days expanding by 90 seconds every 24 hours, even if we can't walk north now through green Louisiana, we still can know for certain that our Spring is underway everywhere north of the equator. It will reach us when it should, and we will pick our daffodils in the middle of an ordered sequence that began this January week along the southern beaches.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the Third Week of Late Winter. In the meantime, even if you can’t feel the change, be of good cheer. It really is happening.