February – Month of mixed messages

John discusses the February contradictions that we experience during this month that can hint at early spring, but sometimes brings our bitterest weather.

February can be a tease. We are nearing the end of winter and the sun is getting noticeably higher in the sky. Neighbourhood snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses provide the joyful splash of spring, which we have long awaited.

Indeed, some Februaries can deliver genuine warmth, such that the mercury has approached 20 Celsius on a few occasions. Tee-shirt weather on many a south-facing patio.

However beyond the garden gate, there is good reason why the fields and hedgerows still appear drab and dormant. Beneath the surface, the ground has been cooling off all winter – and believe me there’s a lot of cold, snow-covered ground to our east…
When high pressure chooses to blast air from the still-frozen Russian interior, bitter weather can still prevail.
In some years we can see a persistence of these easterly winds through February, and even into March. So the folklore goes: ‘As the days get longer, the cold gets stronger’. See here for John’s latest thoughts on the weeks ahead.

Not even Siberian winds can hold back the sun back indefinitely, though. Its rays are strengthening with every day, penetrating deeper into the chilled subsoil. The lingering snowdrifts will eventually be gone. The ground will warm and the countryside will wake from its slumber. We just need to be patient.

(Written by John for BBC Countryfile Magazine)

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