Seasonal Scares

No, this is not a Halloween post.  Those that know me know that I’m not really a huge fan of Halloween.  I’m not really a party-pooper–by all means, do let the younger set have some fun, if they can do it in a safe manner.  But I do have to ask, on what other day of the year would you open your door–willingly–to masked strangers?  It’s craziness.

No, what I’m posting about here are two different things: the irrational fear everyone seems to have this year about the possibility of a bad winter, and the marketing bandwagon that even the plant companies have jumped on when it comes to the holidays!

Now I know, we’re less than 10 weeks from Christmas, Kwaanza, Festivus and whatever anyone might celebrate near the end of December and just over 7 weeks from Hanukkah.  But the early shoppers (and you know who you are) are not going to be able to buy plants early (unless perhaps you’re buying amaryllis or paperwhite bulbs).

On Friday, I re-tweeted a link to a Prides’s Corner YouTube video where Santa makes an appearance showing all the holiday plants Pride’s Corner would have for the upcoming season.  Don’t ask me what they are–I didn’t watch.  It’s much too early for me to think about anything except maybe amaryllis. (For those of you that missed it, here that link:

An intro to the video shows a snowy covered landscape and some lovely evergreens–but Santa or the Pride’s employee was clearly holding a “Christmas Cactus.”  That’s where I stopped.  Enough is enough.  It’s enough to check my own specimens for buds right about now.  I don’t want to think about buying new holiday plants.

And on an even weirder unrelated note, I have to turn in my next magazine article in early November for the January issue–the one that will talk about “Well, now that the holidays are over, how will the gardener get through winter?”  Argh!  But that’s my issue, not yours!

But seeing that snowy landscape, as lovely as it looked, and walking down my wet, rain and leaf-slicked driveway recently made me think of the coming winter.  It seems no matter who I speak to, everyone wants to know about the coming winter, and whether it will be bad or not.

We have 3 predictions so far, 2 of them for a snowier than normal winter.  One is from the  Farmers Almanac, which predicts snowier and colder than normal for my region, at least after the new year.  The second is from Accuweather, which predicts about the same thing (and since they are in the business of weather–i.e, they do it as a commercial venture, that seems slightly more scientific, but who really knows?  They won’t release their inside formulas any more than the Farmer’s Almanac does).

The third, from the National Weather Service, says we have “equal chances” of above or below normal precipitation and temperatures.

As a trained amateur meteorologist, I’ll tell you that the third one is probably the best “forecast”–and here’s why:

  • first, in an average year, the typical winter weather pattern doesn’t take hold until the end of November until the earliest.  That’s when the  patterns in the jet stream and the waves of weather coming from Canada tend to stabilize.
  • next, this is an “El Nino” year
  • In El Nino years, what happens with the North Atlantic Oscillation (for simplicity’s sake, let’s call it one of those weather patterns I mentioned) is critical
  • If the NAO goes “negative, we have a warmer than normal winter in the northeast.
  • If the NAO goes “positive”, we have a cold and snowy winter

So, “equal” chances of a good winter or bad.

On Friday we’ll talk about what nature is saying about the weather!

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