Salisbury, MD. So, with all this crazy weather….how's a Granny supposed to know when Old Man Winter will finally be gone and springtime arrive? When will that 50/50 frost date be? You know, the date on which there is the 50% likelihood that the last frost date has already passed? The date you've got to have to count back the three, six, eight, twelve or however many weeks to start your seeds?
This year seems to have more ups and downs than most years. One weekend it's 40 degrees and sunny. Then 20-something and snowy. Then overcast, damp, windy and just plain nasty! Despite the unpredictable weather, the daffodils are up three inches in Granny Griffith's back yard and the Diane witch hazel is starting to push its bright coppery red catkins. The hellebores are still looking rather pathetic and we still have about seven weeks of winter before the first day of spring on March 20th. But, I digress! When will that elusive 50/50 date occur? What will our late winter and springtime be like? Despite all our careful planning, will we be victimized by an unpredictable late frost? Let's see what some old time forecasters have to say:
Statistics based on what has occurred in the past, would indicate that the 50/50 date on the Delmarva Peninsula will occur sometime in the first three weeks in April, depending on whether you live in the northern or southern most part of our Peninsula. How close you live to a major body of water will also effect that date.
The Old Farmer's Almanac (inspired by Benjamin Franklin's "Poor Richard's Almanack" was first published in 1732) predicts for the Atlantic Corridor that "Winter will be colder and drier than normal, on average….with above average snowfall. The coldest periods will be in mid-December, January and mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in early January and mid- and late February. April and May will be cooler and drier than normal. Summer will be drier and slightly cooler than normal, with the hottest periods in mid- and late June, early July and early to mid-August."
The Farmers' Almanac (note different placement of the apostrophe in the word "farmer") began publication in 1818, making it the "newbie" of the traditional almanacs. They place us in the "North East" instead of "Mid-Atlantic" as most other sources do, predicting mixed snow and heavy rain for February. Stormy with snow should be expected for the end of the month. March will be "very unsettled" for our area with the mid-month almost balmy. Toward the end of March, expect the weather to become "unsettled" with rain or wet snow. April will start out pleasant, then turning "unsettled". Toward the end of the month, expect big thunderstorms. May is predicted to be a more "normal" mix of showers, clearing, pleasant weather and then back to showers with the cycle starting all over again!
If you have never read one of the Farmer's (or Farmers') Almanacs available in our area, the Grannies encourage you to do so. You'll find gardening and fun facts found in no other place. With their brief articles, they make a delightful mixture of fun and fun facts that you can enjoy when you have a few spare moments. As a matter of fact, some of the Gardening Grannies carry the almanacs with them in their cars for those moments when traffic comes to a standstill. As with texting, the Grannies whole-heartedly disapprove of texting or reading while driving.
Tomorrow, anticipating that we get reports from the various rodent-type prognosticators around the world, we'll let you know what they have to say. If we're really lucky, we'll have a report from Stephanie Allison at WMDT 47, recognized as the most accurate forecaster on the Peninsula by Salisbury University.
Gardening Grannies, a group of avid and Master Gardeners, live, love and garden on the Delmarva Peninsula. You can reach them at firstname.lastname@example.org