Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Monday: 30 April 2012

Rat Snakes are Out  -  @ 06:25:02

Black rat snakes are our most commonly seen large snake, and always a pleasure to encounter. This one was patrolling the litter under the mayapples just above the creek:



And the first time I've seen one this year, on Saturday. This one has juvenile patterning, though at 3-4 feet long is pretty clearly mature. An explanation involving hybridization has been offered for this.

Rat snakes tend to freeze when they spot you, which makes them easy to observe if you're watching out. Touching them takes them out of the freeze, and they'll scoot away quickly if they have an out.


I also saw my second rat snake the same day, Saturday. A little smaller than above, it was still at least 3 feet long. I heard Gene giving his come hither call (I've found something interesting), and there was the snake, under the kitchen table with Gene sitting next to it. The snake was unharmed and completely docile - I was able to pick it up and release it into happier circumstances.

Then yesterday, Sunday, Glenn and I were sitting on the front deck, and around the corner came Gene carrying another 3-foot rat snake, apparently intending to deposit it under the kitchen table again. I extricated it, and again it was unharmed, apparently just bewildered to the point of docility. I released it near a brush pile and it scooted off. As Glenn said, "I saw it, but I don't believe it." A rather smallish cat carrying a fairly heavy 3-foot snake is an interesting sight.

Of course this presents a problem of concern. We do have two venomous species - copperheads and timber rattlesnakes. I've never seen a copperhead, and encountered timber rattlers only a few times. But neither is going to submit docilely to a cat, I'm afraid.


Sunday: 29 April 2012

The Box Turtles to Date  -  @ 05:24:02
What a delight to rediscover an old box turtle! This entry makes the sixth first rediscovery this year. There aren't many occasions that allow the construction of such a sentence.

I found this girl, yesterday morning, just 100 feet away from her previous location at the top of the big gully in June, 2008. I hadn't seen her since. She's the 12th turtle I've rediscovered at least once, among 30 total turtles in the 20 acre study area. (I've found many others, but I don't observe those areas closely.)

I count 25 scutes, which is about the upper limit of what can be counted, so she's considerably older than that.



She was having breakfast, and wasn't about to give it up, even when I picked her up to photograph her plastron. It looks like a mangled Arctiid larva, one of the wooly bear caterpillars, perhaps a Virgin Tiger Moth.



I've been far more diligent in box turtle searching this year, than in previous years. Up until this year, I've been watchful, but not really focused - the outings did not have the central goal of spotting turtles.

This year the mission of doing a more careful mark and recapture required establishing when the majority of box turtles were out and around permanently for the season. I started this at the end of February, and made 13 trips covering 23 miles and 30 hours before finding the first box turtle March 20.

Then passed another fruitless 7 trips, 11.7 miles, and 14.7 hours before encountering 6 turtles on April 3-5.

The rest of April up until Thursday was empty of spottings on 6 trips covering 6.3 miles in 13.5 hours. The latest surge began on Thursday, April 26, and I've found turtles each day since then, amounting to 4 total.

That's a total since March 1 of 47 miles, 74 hours, and 11 box turtle encounters with 8 total individuals. The interesting thing is that the encounters come in clusters, separated by significant periods of no encounters. Here is a depiction of that, where the dark blue diamonds indicate a trip (by duration), and the green columns indicate the number of box turtles observed:



I don't think we'll ever arrive at a point where I'll be finding thirty box turtles in a day, or even twenty or ten. I think it's likely that only some fraction of turtles are out and active at any particular time, even if the conditions are perfect. The rest are dug in under litter, resting or sated after a previous day's meal, perhaps for several days before taking a stroll. There are all sorts of reasons why a turtle wouldn't want to emerge at risk when it wasn't hungry, and few to support a hypothesis for constant daily activity.

Here are few considerations that I've been paying closer attention to.

Observation methods

Mostly I'm just watching for box turtles on the surface, out in plain view. I concentrate on a circle 10-20 feet around me, halting frequently on my route. I seldom roll over logs or branches, nor do I very often pull back clumps of litter that might harbor a hidden turtle. I've never found a turtle this way, anyway. I do peer into the space between a log and the ground, and I do look carefully in clumps of grass or ferns, using a stick to move the vegetation around. I have found turtles this way, but mostly they're just out in the open.

Two things that I've been more diligent about: I stop for a minute or two when approaching areas of high grass, and watch for movements of the grass that might give away a turtle in motion. And I also listen more, for rustling in the litter. I actually rediscovered a turtle yesterday, this way, although I may have spotted her anyway.

Turtles that hide

Box turtles, like rat snakes, seem to freeze once they've spotted me. I've never run across a turtle who hasn't seen me first. Most are watching me carefully after having stopped all activity, but a few, I imagine, get under cover before I spot them.

So there's this from observing Corey, one of the turtles I've found twice more after my original rediscovery on April 3:

On Friday, Corey was hiding in a clump of grass, and it was just by way of luck that I spotted him. I picked him up to do the usual photography, completed that and sat down to watch him while I entered a few additional pieces of info. He scooted off a bit, and then he buried himself in a pile of litter, making himself invisible within thirty seconds.

I sort of knew how quickly box turtles can become invisible, but realized then that I'm probably consistently missing some fraction for this reason.

Conditions

I tried to analyze the conditions of temperature and humidity at the time of discovery, over the last two months, with little to report. Just in this year, I've had encounters at temperatures 63F to 82F, and RH 41% to 82%. The unholy heat of most of March seemed to have little consistent bearing on box turtle emergence - if it did, then it took four weeks of that before the April 3-5 cluster was observed. Box turtles may just be highly individualistic in their emergences. Those folks who keep box turtles as outdoor captives report these sorts of things: one turtle may over the years always be an early riser, while another consistently sleeps late.


Saturday: 21 April 2012

Arsenic and Old Lace  -  @ 08:13:20

It probably falls by the wayside for most, including myself, but an unusually low fertile portion of this climbing vine of poison ivy allowed me a fair closeup without getting too close.

Yes, poison ivy is flowering here. With its tiny green flowers and tendency to show them only fifty feet off the ground, it's not too surprising that Toxicodendron radicans, whose very name drips poison, would escape the notice of all but its enthusiastic pollinators.



There was a time when I felt obligated to eradicate poison ivy when I found it, and I even took old sharkstooth saws and sawed a few of the hairy vines off at the base of the tree they were climbing. That came to an end pretty quickly - the fool saw it as a fool's errand.

The plant, in its mature climbing stage, is simply too important as a berry producing food source for many birds to be controlled by mere mortals. What goes up must come down, and so it is with poison ivy seeds. Even USDA Plants identifies it as a moderate food source, albeit for large mammals (probably deer). They do use Miller and Miller's "Forest Plants of the Southeast and their Wildlife Uses," but that book (as useful as it is) has a tendency to favor consideration of exploitable wildlife.

So I just let it alone now, except to keep it down around the house. It's easily recognized, and really only is a problem in highly disturbed areas, which is an argument for not creating highly disturbed areas in the first place.

Next up is an old friend that I searched for on Thursday, and found flowering:



The few specimens of Cypripedium acaule, Pink Ladyslippers, were to be found flowering within a few days of the last last observation in 2010. This was a new location, discovered in 2009, and located at the top of a dry piney area.

This is the first species I've found not to be particularly driven by our very warm March, which had others flowering 2-3 weeks ahead of time. Today I'll search the previous location of a colony found years ago in much the same environment, but that colony has never made another flowering appearance that I've observed.

After the last two weeks of no rain, we were supposed to have 3+ inches by Monday. Since the prediction Wednesday, this seems to have dwindled to virtually nothing. Yesterday we had 0.06" in a total surprise 15 minute rainfall, and as of right now that's the high rainfall of any CoCoRaHS reporters in our part of Georgia. I keep wondering how 3+ inches of rainfall disappeared for such a large area.



Saturday: 14 April 2012

Plans Interrupted  -  @ 07:47:10
Well, we were talking about heating degree days, and I was promising an immediate entry on growing degree days (GDD). But as is often the case, looking more deeply into a topic reveals my ignorance, and a larger breadth of interest that I can't address without a little more work.

Just to give you an idea, I looked into the calculation of GDD by Weather Underground. I decided this was not according to a mental model I have addressing the emergence of box turtles, so I had to come up with a way of calculating my own GDD to produce a new set of results. I'll have to compare the two methods to see which has the better track record.

So until then:

We are actually having a fairly normal April, temperature wise, at this point. It's even a little cool, 43 degF right now at 7am, and we were down in the mid 30s the last couple of mornings, nothing like March. Temperatures are peaking in the mid to upper 60s, and now 70s. Rainfall this year has been very low, though, with little in the forecast to delight a discerning palate. Dry, dry, dry, with 8.7" since January 1, compared to 14.3" normal, or about 60% of what we should expect.

As a result we had five consecutive days of fire weather watch. Today, humidity will at least rise above the 25% danger level, and no fire danger has been declared. This trend of rising humidity will continue, perhaps culminating in rainfall Tue/Wed.

No box turtles have been observed, including yesterday, when temperatures were just great but humidity was around 29%.

Apparently there's a large wildland fire along the Georgia-Florida border west of Jacksonville, and we may begin to expect smoke from that to reach our area in a noticeable fashion.

That's pretty trivial compared to the predicted weather extremes, since three days ago, for the midwest today. Record sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico combined with a descending cold wave from the north are conspiring to produce potential life threatening weather, including tornadoes, in OK, MO, KS, NE, and other points adjoining. Be safe and vigilant, and good luck to our friends there.


Tuesday: 10 April 2012

Predicting Emergence  -  @ 06:47:25
I've been looking fairly closely at when things, including box turtles, have emerged this past very warm spring (2-3 weeks early, at least for plants). Weather is the first thing we think of, when animals and plants begin to get active. There are certainly other possibilities, but that's the simplest. So, what weather indicators might predict emergence?

About the crudest way to estimate the warmth or cold of a period of time (such as a month) is to look at the monthly average high or low. It tells you nothing about how many days were warm, or cold, during that month.

I wondered, is there any way to estimate the amount of warmth that's accumulated during a particular time period? Essentially this is equivalent to integrating the measurements of temperature made above a certain baseline. Can you use this to predict a point at which a particular organism shows up in the spring?

And it turns out there is, although today's post will not address that. Instead it will address the ones that probably don't work. Weather Underground, which maintains archives for weather stations around the country, will present you with daily reports of heating degree days (HDD), cooling degree days (CDD), and growing degree days (GDD). You can also get summations from any particular start date to end date.

Let's start with heating degree days and cooling degree days (CDD). These are not very useful for answering the main question, but as indicators they're interesting in their own right. The number of cooling degree days during the summer months, for instance, is an indication of how much most people will cool their environment when it gets above some temperature. It can be useful to keep track of how much more or less you're paying for the energy needed to cool the air temperature.

Cooling degree days are usually calculated from a baseline of 65 degF, the temperature above which people tend to turn on their a/c. The warmer the temperatures are for an extended time, the higher this number will be. During cold months, heating degree days are also usually calculated from that same baseline, the 65F mark at which people tend to turn on their heat.

Because of the extreme warmth of last summer, we're interesting in looking at cooling degree days, since they reflect the amount of time and degree of intensity spent above 65F. Below is a plot of CDD May 1-Aug 31 for each year since 1980.



The average CDD over MJJA, for the last 30+ years, is 1444 cooling degree days. The last two summers we've had 1827 and 1829 CDD, respectively, meaning that those who use a/c are paying 25% more per four month period (neglecting other cost increases).

However, if you try to fit the points to a straight line, there is no particular correlation (-0.03, as meaningless a correlation as you can get).

As an aside, it sure looks to me like those last 12 or 13 points are trending distinctly upward - let's ignore the previous data and just look at the numbers since 1999:



Now we find a correlation of 0.7, which is much more significant in terms of the data (although still rather poor).

If we were to leave it like this, we might be convinced that the trend over the last decade or more predicted increasing summer heat for years to come. This, in reverse, is what climate change denialists do, and it's called cherry picking. We really can't ignore the 20 years prior to these more recent data, not, at least until something close to an equivalent period of time since 1999 has passed. So if the trend continues upward over the next ten or twenty years, we become more confident that something interesting is going on. If the trend were to level off over the next twenty years, we might be safe in concluding that some new regime of climate had been reached. I'll let you know in 2030.

(Of course, this is all for a single location, and not global. These trends may or may not reflect what's going on in the immediate southeast, and they certainly don't reflect what goes on in China or Kenya.)

Here is another aside, and this one has more validity.

As we've been through our very warm winter and, especially, March, the usual comment I've heard is: What on earth is summer going to be like?

Well, more than likely, summer is going to be largely unpredictable from what happens the previous winter. But we have the ability to look at this, at least in Athens, GA.

Here's a plot of cooling degree days for Jan 1-Mar 31 vs CDD for May 1-Aug 31, again since 1980. It's basically winter vs summer. If there were any correlation, you'd expect to see the data trend upward as you moved to the right to higher winter CDDs, since they'd predict higher summer CDDs. But that's not what really happens.



True, there are a few points where that has happened - both 2007 and 2011 were hot in the summer after being hot in the previous Jan-Mar. But there are as many counterexamples - 2010, for instance, had a very cool winter, but a summer nearly as hot as last year. And 1997 and 1989 showed the opposite effect for a cool summer following a warm winter.

Fitting a straight line to the data shows no correlation - a coefficient of 0.012. A warm winter does not suggest anything about what the summer will be. And the reason for that is that "synoptic" (large scale) events, such as El Niño or La Niña, can and often do completely change over the course of a month or two.

Neither the simple minded cooling or heating degree days is likely to help us very much with predicting biological events. The problem is that both CDD and HDD must be considered. We need an indicator that combines both CDD and HDD in some way. Growing degree days (GDD) is such an indicator, used by a diverse range of enthusiasts from phenologists to farmers to horticulturalists to financiers, and we'll get into that tomorrow.


Saturday: 7 April 2012

So Far This Spring  -  @ 06:46:41
I've now found seven box turtles this spring: a new male on March 20, three males on April 3, two on April 4, and one on April 5. All but the first one of these has been seen before, including one that was new on April 3 and found again on April 4, 500 feet away.

As is required by SBS statute, four of these received names. Corey was first seen in July 2009 and Alex was first seen in September 2007. Both of these were found very close to their original sighting location.

And then there's Maggie, who we've seen many times before. She's back more or less in her original location, after spending the last two summers at Tom and Gisela's next door.



Here's a female first spotted in May of 2008. She was tootling about in SBS Creek, just a few hundred feet from her original location near the Kat Semetary.



She's one of the yellowest turtles I've found. I'd guess that's due to a thinly pigmented (and thin) keratin layer, which lets the underlying bone shine through.



Below is the crude result of a first attempt to capture the history of box turtles around here.

The west arm, purchased a couple of years ago, isn't really part of the study area, which covers most of the central area of the map, bounded by the orange lines. I don't typically examine the eastern swath, either. The enclosed area covers 60 acres, and the northern boundary along Goulding Creek is about half a mile, for scale purposes.

Isolated dots are individual sightings not subsequently rediscovered. Connected dots show migrations of rediscovered turtles. There should be 56 dots there representing 56 sightings. 14 of those dots are rediscoveries, so 42 turtles have been documented.

Colors are traditional. The apparent clustering in a couple of places lower center is more my mistake in dot placement because of a lack of the usual referents on this crude map. Still, it gives you an idea of numbers, distribution of sexes, and in some cases history of migration.



You can see that Maggie, Sally, and Ernest have all ended up at Tom and Gisela's at some point. Sylvia has always seemed a homebody, as have several others, but of course who knows where they've been in the sometimes years since their last sighting?

I think we can safely say that the box turtles are out now, as of about April 2 or 3. The March 20 may have been an early riser, but probably did not herald emergence of the majority. I should mention that Tom and Gisela also documented an unknown box turtle, probably male, on their turf, on April 3.





Wednesday: 4 April 2012

Boxing Day  -  @ 08:35:32
The box turtles are emerging!

Yesterday I found three males on a 3-hour hike through the study area, and came home from work last night to an email that Tom and Gisela had found one too. I hadn't been able to search on Saturday or Monday, and Sunday netted nothing. But we had some rain and permissive conditions yesterday. During the course of my noon-3pm walk, temperature ranged 75-82 degF, and humidity 75%-58%.

This pretty yellow-headed male is apparently new. I found him along the feeder creek. One interesting thing was that none of the turtles wanted to retreat, and this one huffed and puffed as I picked him up to photograph underside:



Below, this magnificent fellow was originally found July 20 2009, and not seen since. I found him midway down the north slope, in the dry woods, and from the description, it was pretty much where I found him the first time.

And by the way I've found that if you stroke a retreated turtle along the length of the carapace in a way that vibrates in a line down the spine, they will often come out.



Tom and Gisela's turtle from yesterday evening doesn't match up with anything in my records. I'd guess this is likely a female, judging from the lack of flaring at the bottom of the carapace. If you compare this one to the other three on this page, you'll immediately see what I mean by flaring.



I actually found the one below first, yesterday, at the base of the north slope to Goulding Creek. Quite a different head color. This is the second time I've found him - the first was September 3 2007, and so just a couple of weeks after the hottest period we've ever had. At that time, he had been partially buried in a "form," presumably to escape the heat, and completely retreated into his shell.



Since it's been 4.5 years since I saw the last turtle above, I compared closeups of a scute then (top) and now (bottom). I count 14 scute rings, or thereabouts. I can't convince myself that there has been any difference in terms of added ring(s), or otherwise, in nearly five years.




Monday: 2 April 2012

The Month of March  -  @ 10:11:42
It's The Month of March, Number 74 in a series, and I have a lot to say. It hardly seems necessary to remind most everyone in the eastern 2/3 of the country what March was like, but let me repeatedly do so. Unprecedented warm temperatures, with highs 10, 20, and 30 degrees F above normal. What I will remind everyone of is that for large parts of the country, March was the fourth month in a row, since December, with higher than normal temperatures.

In the six years I've been doing this monthly series, there have been noteworthy events. The one that will always stand out for me is The Month of August, 2007. That was the month that ended up being the hottest August, and therefore the hottest month, ever, in recorded temperatures in the Athens area. Those played out in absolute temperatures culminating in 107 degF on one day, and an average daily high of 98.2 degF. But it was even more amazing in that there were 23 days with high temperatures at least one standard deviation above the average for that day, compared with a usual 5 such days.

The reason I mention this is that this March was as unusual, and therefore, that's going to stand out as extraordinary as that August 2007 milestone. March just doesn't have the delivery that August does - people *like* to have 80+ temperatures in a March expected to deliver miserable cold and often wet weather. And so a dry and overly warm March will be thought of as pleasant, rather than potentially ominous.

Nonetheless, our high temperature anomalies peaked twice: March 15 and 16 they were 19 degrees above normal, and March 19, once again, 19 degrees above normal. North of here it wasn't all that uncommon for high temperatures to be 20-30 degrees above normal.

Here are the usual temperature anomalies products, at the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. The high and low temperature anomalies can be had on a new page by clicking on the image below.



I've never seen an anomaly map like this. The anomalous temperature differences in the eastern 2/3 of the country were so high that they ran out of standard colors and had to resort to labelled isolines.

As we often see, the warm anomalies begin to change over to cold anomalies from east to west over the Rockies. And so, some portions of the Pacific states had cooler than usual weather, but that constituted only about 10% of the land area.

We find the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center's precipitation plots here.



The northern midwest continued in what must be its sixth or seventh month of dry weather, although there was relief in Montana and Idaho. There was little relief in the east, with no more than normal rainfall and continued dry conditions elsewhere. Florida continues to desiccate.


For the Athens, GA area:

Here is a plot of our temperature swings in March, along with precipitation amounts as experienced in Wolfskin:



We had basically one significant cool period of several days, about 10 days into March, and then on March 15 everything went crazy. (North of us things went crazy before this, but then settled down after ten days. We're still crazy here.)

Our high average temperature averaged out to be 75.7 degF, compared to a 30-year average of 66.2. This ties the monthly average high for March, 1921. There is nothing else close - 2007, the next highest average high, was 72.5 degF.

Our average high temperatures for this March were higher than our average high temperatures for April. Think about that.

If you take nighttime lows into account, then this March ends up as number 1. We also had very warm nights, giving us a mean March temperature of 63.7 degF, compared to 53.2 normal. By this metric, 1921 loses - It only had a mean temperature for March of 63.0 degF; March 2007 only 59.0 degF.

Our daytime anomaly and nighttime anomalies were equally extreme. We had an extraordinary 15 days greater than one standard deviation above average (4.9 days is normal). We had only 1 night greater than one standard deviation below the average low, where 4.9 such nights is average. But we had 17 nights warmer than the average by one standard deviation. When you talk about going beyond the 1 standard deviation point, you're talking extraordinary.

Since we find that temperatures were warmer than normal, we'll look at a plot of the high temperatures, for the month of March in Athens. As usual, the black dots are for the years 1990-2010 (black dots), 2012 (green line), and 2011 (red line).

We broke or matched four high records during March. Farther north of us, these record breaking temperatures went rampant, with incredible instances of a daily low temperature breaking the high temperature record for that day!



Here is a histogram that shows the deviation from March 1948 on.


There isn't a single category of temperature that fits within the error bars of the means. For our highs, we had 11 days in the 80s; two days is normal and 9 days in 2007 is the previous record. The nighttime highs are just as stark, with 22 nights above 50 degF, compared to 7 nights normal.

The figure below shows the Athens precipitation data which are official for our area. As usual the green line shows our actual rainfall, the red shows the average accumulation expected. The black dots are rainfall over the last 20 years, the vast river of peach shows the standard deviation. There is a tiny bit of blue around March 3, showing a surplus of 1 standard deviation above the average, for a few days.



Otherwise we went below the average with hardly any rain after March 17. We finished the month with 3.17" in Athens, 2.84" here, compared to an average March rainfall of 4.43". Athens' total was just above the critical one standard deviation below average, and Wolfskin's was right at that lower limit.

I haven't presented our ongoing tally of where we are in our rainfall delivery over the long term. It's the blue plot that's important here, and I've circled it. That's the difference between average rainfall expected since January 2005, and the amount actually delivered. After the severe drought ending in mid 2009, we had a half year of surplus rainfall and then another year of normal rainfall.

However, since January 2011, we've had a clear trend of lower than normal rainfall, and that continues through this month. The creeks are beginning to show the effects as trees leaf out (several weeks early) and begin to suck water out of the ground.



What is the neat prognosticator telling us? Not a great deal changed from last month: warmer than usual for the next three months, with, on the average, equal chance of normal rainfall for the next three months. However, I've noticed that these predictions are weighed heavily on whether we're in a La Niña or otherwise, and the effects of the ENSO can be heavily perturbed by such conditions as a very warm North Atlantic, for instance.

Can we predict anything about this summer on the basis of our extraordinary March? With qualification, no. But the extremely hot 2007 summer was also preceded by #3 hottest March. The same was true in 1921. Still, even that isn't enough to suggest that we're facing a very hot summer. But there's nothing on the other side of the coin to suggest that we're not. We will just have to see what happens, but I can't imagine that we could have a summer with some days 20 degF above normal.

ENSO stuff:

Finally, the folks at CPC have a version of PDF or HTML that is much different from their previous presentations, but at least it's there and the link isn't broken.

La Niña is coming to an end, and for the moment we expect ENSO neutral conditions to prevail. However La Niña impacts are still expected to continue for reasons of lag time. Just remember that last year we were ENSO neutral only for a short period before falling back into a La Niña from which we are just now emerging. This could happen again, and hurricane season could easily be ramped up by a La Niña reappearing.

NOAA's Monthly State of the Climate product for February is available, and I'll be very interested to see what they have to say about March, when it comes out. The summary for 2011 regionally, nationally, and globally is also available.




Sunday: 1 April 2012

We Are All April Fools  -  @ 09:18:53
I've tried to come up with an April Fool's post each year. Last year it was the award of a $1.6 billion FEMA grant to Wolfskin Fire Department. The year before, it was the unintended result of what started out as a small prescribed burn. And in 2009 I thought it would be fun to imagine portions of our property emerging as new islands that would appear as sea level rose 600 feet.

So this election year, 2012, I thought, let's throw credibility to the wind in a big way, and pretend there was a presidential candidate who thought it would be a good idea to outlaw contraception, because contraception led to people wanting to have sex. It seemed like a clever idea until such a candidate actually emerged.

Alright, then, let's zoom in on the candidate who has tons of money and declares himself unemployed because he doesn't need to be employed. No? Yes.

OK, then one surely couldn't fail: a candidate who gave pink slips to two of his wives while he was boinking the next prospective one, impeached the President for sexual dalliance, and then declared himself for family values. Life is a comedy, so that one didn't work.

There were quite a few other improbables that I considered, but each turned out to be reality.

So, I thought, it may be a little geeky, but I'll report that March high temperatures averaged 10-30 deg above average highs over most of the United States, and set over 4000 high temperature records. Oops.

It's a failure of imagination on my part. And so this year, I have no April Fool's pranks to play on you, because nothing I can imagine rises anywhere near to the level of foolishness to which we've fallen.

Happy April Fool's Day!


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