The Outlook: After balmy break, typical winter returning to Berkshires

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"The days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour." — Vita Sackville-West

"Weird," that's how people described the past weekend, as 80 years of weather records at Pittsfield Municipal Airport melted down and most remnants of snow thawed out, turning into mud puddles. But we'll be getting back to reality in the days ahead.

The warmest Jan. 11 had been 57 in 2014. The new high set on Saturday: 62, a stunning 33 degrees above the average high for the date. The predawn low of 48 was the warmest on record for Jan. 11, compared to the average, or normal, of 11.

Another springtime tease on Sunday: 63 at 7 a.m., wiping out the old record of 61 set in 2018.

There was a similar warmup on these dates in 1975, so it's premature to declare that this is a new normal, aided by climate upheaval. But since Dec. 22, with only one exception, temperatures have been above average every day, often by double digits.

Some of the fallout might surprise you. If we don't get sustained cold, apple trees could take a hit. At Bartlett's Orchard and Farm Market in Richmond, fourth-generation family co-owner Trevor Bartlett cautioned that the trees need a dormant period of no new growth, an arboreal form of hibernation.

"If we don't get that, we could see some aftereffects later on," he said.

We were far from alone this weekend. As the National Weather Service tweeted, "Saturday was an incredibly warm day for January across the Eastern U.S. Many areas broke or tied their record high temperature for Jan. 11 — a total of 61 locations."

As Boston hit 70 (previous high: 62 in 1975), college students in T-shirts could be seen lounging in the sun on Boston Common. It was just the third time that the city reached 70 degrees in January since record-keeping started in 1872.

New York City was close behind at 69 (62 in 1975), and topping the regional chart, Charleston, W.V.a, at 80 (71 in 2018). At the 8:15 p.m. Titans-Ravens kickoff in Baltimore Saturday night, it was an un-football like 69 degrees.

Saturday's highs and lows in Boston were exactly average for Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 11.

Boston Globe meteorologist Dave Epstein pointed out, "If you look at the entire month to date, the weather in Boston has been more typical of Norfolk, Va. Unless there's an awful lot of incorrect scientists out there, this weekend's taste of late spring is just a preview of a slowly evolving pattern in which more unusual warmth will be interrupting our coldest season."

Climate specialist, author and New Yorker magazine staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert, of Williamstown, writes in the current issue (online at newyorker.com) about soaring carbon-dioxide emissions setting worldwide records: "Ten more years of the same will be nothing short of cataclysmic. Really waking up, and not just dreaming to ourselves that things will be O.K., has become urgent — beyond urgent, in fact."

Kolbert, a fellow at the Williams College Center for Environmental Studies, minced no words as she cited the ongoing Australian conflagration: "To paraphrase the Victoria (Australia) fire authority: The world is in danger, and we need to act immediately to survive."

Back to our Berkshires weather: The party's over, as somewhat more typical winter gradually returns, especially at week's end, when our snow drought might give way to a plowable few inches.

The Outlook is Monday's look ahead at the week's weather, its impact on the Berkshires and more. Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.

"Weird," that's how people described the past weekend, as 80 years of weather records at Pittsfield Municipal Airport melted down and most remnants of snow thawed out, turning into mud puddles. But we'll be getting back to reality in the days ahead.

The warmest Jan. 11 had been 57 in 2014. The new high set on Saturday: 62, a stunning 33 degrees above the average high for the date. The predawn low of 48 was the warmest on record for Jan. 11, compared to the average, or normal, of 11.

Another springtime tease on Sunday: 63 at 7 a.m., wiping out the old record of 61 set in 2018.

There was a similar warmup on these dates in 1975, so it's premature to declare that this is a new normal, aided by climate upheaval. But since Dec. 22, with only one exception, temperatures have been above average every day, often by double digits.

Some of the fallout might surprise you. If we don't get sustained cold, apple trees could take a hit. At Bartlett's Orchard and Farm Market in Richmond, fourth-generation family co-owner Trevor Bartlett cautioned that the trees need a dormant period of no new growth, an arboreal form of hibernation.

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"If we don't get that, we could see some aftereffects later on," he said.

We were far from alone this weekend. As the National Weather Service tweeted, "Saturday was an incredibly warm day for January across the Eastern U.S. Many areas broke or tied their record high temperature for Jan. 11 — a total of 61 locations."

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As Boston hit 70 (previous high: 62 in 1975), college students in T-shirts could be seen lounging in the sun on Boston Common. It was just the third time that the city reached 70 degrees in January since record-keeping started in 1872.

New York City was close behind at 69 (62 in 1975), and topping the regional chart, Charleston, W.V.a, at 80 (71 in 2018). At the 8:15 p.m. Titans-Ravens kickoff in Baltimore Saturday night, it was an un-football like 69 degrees.

Saturday's highs and lows in Boston were exactly average for Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 11.

Article Continues After Advertisement

Boston Globe meteorologist Dave Epstein pointed out, "If you look at the entire month to date, the weather in Boston has been more typical of Norfolk, Va. Unless there's an awful lot of incorrect scientists out there, this weekend's taste of late spring is just a preview of a slowly evolving pattern in which more unusual warmth will be interrupting our coldest season."

Climate specialist, author and New Yorker magazine staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert, of Williamstown, writes in the current issue (online at newyorker.com) about soaring carbon-dioxide emissions setting worldwide records: "Ten more years of the same will be nothing short of cataclysmic. Really waking up, and not just dreaming to ourselves that things will be O.K., has become urgent — beyond urgent, in fact."

Kolbert, a fellow at the Williams College Center for Environmental Studies, minced no words as she cited the ongoing Australian conflagration: "To paraphrase the Victoria (Australia) fire authority: The world is in danger, and we need to act immediately to survive."

Back to our Berkshires weather: The party's over, as somewhat more typical winter gradually returns, especially at week's end, when our snow drought might give way to a plowable few inches.

The Outlook is Monday's look ahead at the week's weather, its impact on the Berkshires and more. Clarence Fanto can be reached at cfanto@yahoo.com.


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