Ron Smith 1, Senior Content Director

February 1, 2012

3 Min Read

When I stepped out the front door this morning to collect the daily newspaper—which my wife always retrieves from the driveway and tosses on the front porch as she leaves for work (Have I ever mentioned how lucky I am?)—I noticed a splash of color in what had been mostly a drab, beige-colored flower bed when I came in last night.

We had noticed the daffodils pushing up through the mulch about 10 days ago but were not expecting blossoms on the first day of February. We feared the over-anxious shoots were suicidal and would emerge from the soil only to be met with a cold blast of arctic air that would transform them into shriveled threads of fiber.

But North Texas has enjoyed exceptionally mild weather so far in this New Year. The thermometer pushed past 70 yesterday and is headed in that direction again today. My trusty iPhone weather app indicates a high of 64 today and then moving into the balmy range of 70, 74, and 71 for the rest of the week before it plunges to a chilly 66 by next Monday.

In the meantime, we’re supposed to get a bit more rain from Friday through Sunday. It feels like spring. We had thunderstorms last week and heavy downpours of much-needed rain. Some nearby lakes showed signs of recapturing some of the high grounds they retreated from last summer.

We’ve seen neither snow nor ice so far this winter. We’ve endured only brief periods of frigid weather. We’ve had no school closings, no tie-ups on icy roads, no power-outages from downed electrical lines. It’s been a pleasant winter so far. Too pleasant, perhaps.

I don’t trust February—never have. And the capricious nature of Texas weather discourages any confidence in continued spring-like conditions. It can turn in a hurry—70 one day, 24 the next. We can be sunny and warm on Monday and iced in and shivering by Wednesday morning. I have much less confidence in Texas February weather than those brave/foolish daffodils that have given us at least a day or two of pleasure.

Early February weather can promise so much and deliver so little by the last day of the month. Our shortest month often brings the longest stretch of bad weather. This time last year we caught an onslaught of arctic air that sent temperatures plunging, snow and ice clogging the highways and thousands of disgruntled Super Bowl fans who came south only to encounter winter weather almost as harsh as the conditions they had left in Pittsburg and Green Bay.

I recall spending a long afternoon huddled in my truck on a road too slick to drive and with a flat tire that I couldn’t change on a slippery surface.

No one is expecting that kind of blast anytime soon, but it’s only February 1. There’s time. Still, I’m hoping we escape winter’s wrath this year.  I have plenty to do out of the office—meetings to attend, farmers to visit, weekly trips to rehab a bum knee. I’ll be happy to do all that without having to worry about sliding into a ditch somewhere out in West Texas or Central Oklahoma. And I need to head in both those directions in coming weeks.

But on the other hand, I’ve talked to farmers recently, farmers who missed those recent rains we got in North Texas, who would welcome a 12-inch snowfall in the next few weeks. Lord knows they need it. So if I have to endure a bit of cold weather, a bit of ice and snow, a bit more February than I really like, I’ll take it if most of the Southwest gets some moisture—frozen or otherwise.

Meanwhile, the daffodils are on their own.


About the Author(s)

Ron Smith 1

Senior Content Director, Farm Press/Farm Progress

Ron Smith has spent more than 40 years covering Sunbelt agriculture. Ron began his career in agricultural journalism as an Experiment Station and Extension editor at Clemson University, where he earned a Masters Degree in English in 1975. He served as associate editor for Southeast Farm Press from 1978 through 1989. In 1990, Smith helped launch Southern Turf Management Magazine and served as editor. He also helped launch two other regional Turf and Landscape publications and launched and edited Florida Grove and Vegetable Management for the Farm Press Group. Within two years of launch, the turf magazines were well-respected, award-winning publications. Ron has received numerous awards for writing and photography in both agriculture and landscape journalism. He is past president of The Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association and was chosen as the first media representative to the University of Georgia College of Agriculture Advisory Board. He was named Communicator of the Year for the Metropolitan Atlanta Agricultural Communicators Association. More recently, he was awarded the Norman Borlaug Lifetime Achievement Award by the Texas Plant Protection Association. Smith also worked in public relations, specializing in media relations for agricultural companies. Ron lives with his wife Pat in Johnson City, Tenn. They have two grown children, Stacey and Nick, and three grandsons, Aaron, Hunter and Walker.

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