Abnormally low number of freezes so far

Published 3:30 pm Saturday, January 15, 2022

By Skip Rigney

Here we are in mid-January and the lawn in my backyard, which is on the southern side of my house and gets an abundance of sunshine, still has a number of large patches of green grass. Add to that plenty of green winter weeds, which are poking through both in the yard and in my flower beds, and it seems winter hasn’t had much of an impact on the vegetation in my yard, I can’t imagine that the bugs and other insects have suffered much either.

The first two weeks of January have been considerably cooler than December was with its record-breaking warmth. However, we still have a long way to go in our area to come even close to the number of days with freezing temperatures that we typically see by this stage of the winter.

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Official weather stations in our county have been rather inconsistent lately in reporting their observations. I’ve turned to two trustworthy nearby stations that bracket the extremes in Pearl River County, and which have a full data record both for this season and historically. Hattiesburg to the north is typically a little colder than the coldest spots in Pearl River County, while Slidell tracks very closely with temperatures observed near Picayune in the southern end of the county.

From November 1, 2021 through January 15, 2022, the mercury has dropped below freezing on seven days in Hattiesburg and only on three days in Slidell. Both totals are far below the average number of days with freezing temperatures and the number of freezing days observed during 68 percent of the November to mid-January periods in the historical records for these two stations.

All three of Slidell’s freezing mornings this season have occurred since January 3rd. Even on the coldest morning across south Mississippi and southeast Louisiana, temperatures only fell into the upper 20s.

However, a cold air mass is headed our way. The front will pass through Saturday night, followed by a cold and blustery Sunday. There is a good chance that we will see temperatures near or just below freezing both Sunday night and Monday night.

A certain number of moderately cold winter hours are necessary for fruit bushes such as blueberries to have healthy yields in the spring. Let’s hope for a few more cold snaps. It’s much better to have them between now and the end of February, than for frosts and freezes to wait until March and April when our plants and wildlife think that winter is over.