January 2006 was among the warmest on record at the local airports. The warm temperatures have been a result of a strong high pressure area in the Atlantic that directs cold fronts further north. This looks like the sort of arrangement that keeps our summers hot and sticky. There remains some possibility of a colder-than-normal February, but in the meantime, signs of spring abound.
The warm weather and lack of snow have helped birds and other creatures find food and encouraged some to come out early. Someone called the Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale to report that praying mantises were hatching, and manager Michael McDonnell said he saw a pair of bats flying around last week, catching insects at night. Normally, they are hibernating at this time of year.In addition, this January has produced the least amount of snow, with only a couple of snow flurry incidents and no major storms.
The National Weather Service chose yesterday to unveil a new five-category scale for measuring huge snowstorms in the Northeast, which includes Washington, that is similar to ones it uses for hurricanes and tornadoes. The rating on the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale will be based on the size of the area and number of people affected by the storm and how much snow it drops. Categories will range from "notable" to "extreme." In between are "significant," "major" and "crippling."If current trends continue, I doubt there will be much use for that around here this winter.