life in cape may
 

See Saw Weather - Alaska comes to Cape May

Posted 2/07/07
By Paul Kerlinger
Outdoors Editor

Cape May, NJ - In mid-January we were asking, Is it really winter? The temperatures were balmy, spring flowers were blooming three months early, and fish that normally wouldn’t be active were swimming just off the beaches.

There was no ice, no snow, and the grass was still green.

We have no doubt today that winter's arrived. Frigid arctic air from Alaska is enveloping South Jersey.

How things have changed in only two weeks!

In January our gardens witnessed an unseasonal bloom by Daffodils, Flowering Quince, Wall Flower, Rosemary and Viburnum. They were producing flowers at a time when they had no business doing so.

Quince in January Quince in February

No more. The flowers are encased in ice or are long gone.

Rosemary in January Rosemary in February

Fish and Birds

Fish and birds also have been affected by the strange weather patterns.

This year, some fishermen were actually catching striped bass in mid-January in the back bays. This is virtually unheard of. In past decades, fish like striped bass and bluefish mostly disappeared in early December. The cold temperatures now have sent those fish packing.

Also this winter, we've witnessed unusual patterns among migrating birds. During a normal January, we would see fewer ducks and few gannets. However, this winter, hundreds of gannets were catching herring off of Cape May’s beachfront until the recent cold snap. There've been more ducks around this winter as well.

End of the Warm Winter

The winter of 2006-2007 started out looking like one of the warmest on record, thanks to a combination of global warming and El Nino.

Our warm spell has come to a crashing end as the jet stream has shifted, bringing us icy blasts of arctic air.

Why does it feel like Siberia all of a sudden? The jet stream is flowing directly from Alaska. The cold air it's bringing is the same polar air that makes Siberia and Russia shiver. In fact, Moscow is experiencing record cold temperatures.

El Nino Did It

Our winter has actually been classic for the El Nino pattern. In an El Nino year, winter is generally much milder, at least for the first half. Then the real cold of winter commences.

El Nino also ushers in cooler temperatures in early spring. So, brace yourself. We are likely to have cooler temperatures for a while.

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