Half an hour ago at 7.21am this morning, according to our friendly local online weather station here in Pennsylvania, the temperature hit -0.2F. That’s about -18C for you Brits. (Yes, just about everywhere in the world has switched over to Celsius except the US which sticks to Fahrenheit - and feet and inches, gallons, pounds and ounces etc).
Nothing wrong with a cold night like this here in USDA zone 5, of course, (Britain, by the way, is mostly in zone 8) where the record low for this time on this day is -16F (-26C) – except that we have no snow.
A foot or two or more of snow provides that insulating blanket to keeps plants a littler cosier than the icy air around them and reduce temperature fluctuations but a combination of El Ninho and global climate change seems to have eliminated all but about 3in of snow so far this winter. The recent United Nations report on climate change reveals how bad things are and The Independent newspaper in the UK laid out clearly what we’re in for as temperatures rise. With rainforest turning to desert we might end up being thankful for the resilience of Japanese knotweed.
One interesting sideline – thermometers vary. I’m sure our local online weather station is accurate, the thermometer outside our kitchen window reads -1F, and the electronic thermometer with its sensor outside agrees. But the thermometer outside our bedroom window reads -11F and the big thermometer on a tree in the woods, which I can see from where I’m sitting writing this, reads -5F.
Either way, the plants will not be happy.