(WKBN) — Well, it looks like Punxsutawney Phil missed another one when he predicted six more weeks of winter in the United States. There are many locations, particularly in the northeastern United States, that are experiencing their warmest February on record.
The warm temperatures have jump-started the spring growth across much of the southeastern United States. Allergy season is in full swing south of the Ohio river as leaves, flowers and weeds begin the process of blooming.
The data on the map below is from the National Phenology Network. This is called the “spring leaf index anomaly” and it compares the spring leaf growth from today to a 30-year average of the first day of spring leaf growth for the entire United States.
The red colors represent areas where the spring leaf growth is ahead of schedule, while the blue colors represent slow starts to the spring leaf growth. There are many locations in the southeastern and eastern United States where the spring leaf growth is over three weeks ahead of schedule.
There are many places in the southwestern United States, however, that are well above average on spring growth for this time of year. This is due to the colder-than-normal temperatures that those areas have experienced.
With the warm temperatures this week, this will continue to accelerate the spring growth across the eastern United States.
Now, a natural question where has spring usually started this time of year? Well, this is an interesting question to ask and it can be a little complex.
Basically, you have to break this question down and ask: “what constitutes spring?”. The National Phenology Network attempts to do this by combining historical temperatures, plant growth and forecast data to develop a “spring index”. The NPN uses this data to determine when the conditions usually come together to promote the first days of the growing season.
This is the 51st day of 2023, and the map below shows the locations where spring has usually started this time of year. The brighter colors indicate that spring has started earlier, so it makes sense that by Feb. 20, spring has usually started in parts of the deep south like Texas and Florida.
Climatologically speaking, the first day of spring arrives in the Valley in early April. Here is the same map as above, but for April 5. Given the warm temperatures, it is likely that spring will arrive a few weeks early in Youngstown as well.