After warm January, hearing this sound in NJ is concerning
January of 2023 has officially concluded, and what a month it's been temperature-wise. At no point in the month did we have any extreme cold.
In fact, it's been quite the opposite. According to Chief Meteorologist Dan Zarrow's weather blog, "Each and every day of the month — without exception — saw an average temperature at or above the long-term average."
Who remembers that arctic blast we had during the Christmas weekend? It seems like a distant memory now after how much warmer January was. We even kicked off 2023 on the warm side and haven't looked back.
When it comes to winter warmth, not many in New Jersey are complaining. Most throughout the state probably welcome the above-average temperatures as opposed to anything resembling a cold and frosty winter.
Who could blame them? On sunny days, the weather was often perfect to get outside and enjoy without needing to bundle up.
For as lovely as it seems, however, such above-average temperatures this time of year isn't necessarily good news. Sure, a day or two is great, but not when it's prolonged throughout the entire month.
And it wasn't just temperatures that told the spring-like story. New Jersey also had its fair share of morning fog. That combination is typically more common in early spring, not in the heart of winter.
When weather like this lasts for weeks, it has the potential to trick many things living in nature. Unfortunately, that's what's happening now.
Around the state, many plants and flowers are starting to show signs that they're ready to come out for the season. Normally, this would be welcoming. But since we're still in winter, dangerous cold snaps could kill that young vegetation.
A few days of above-average temperatures don't normally trigger that. But when it lasts an entire month, it can and does often trick many plants into coming up early.
But this January I experienced something new. And it's something I never encountered so early in the season before.
It was on Sunday, January 29, the final weekend of the month that I had this experience. I had just wrapped up my Sunday morning show at the radio ranch and was on my way back home.
Sometimes I take I-295 South to I-195 East as part of my route home. It was around 10:30 in the morning when I got to exit 60, the interchange from one highway to the next.
As I begin the loop from I-295 to I-195, I start to notice this loud screeching sound. The sound was loud enough to prompt me to turn off my radio and try to figure out what the heck this sound was.
Could it be the car? Maybe one of the belts was loose. Or, was that sound coming from the climate control fans? At first, I wasn't really sure.
It didn't take long for me to realize this sound was coming from outside. When I cracked the window open, it got even louder.
Now before I go any further, it's important to describe the landscape. For those not familiar with this area of the highway, parts of the ramp were built over swampy lands.
That's when I realized what that sound was. It was the sound of Spring Peeper Frogs coming from the swamp below.
Yes. Peeper Frogs. Active during the last weekend of January in New Jersey. Something that is far from normal to happen this early in the year.
Once I got onto I-195 and drove away from that area, the sound faded into the distance. Pretty wild to hear them now, in the heart of winter.
I've experienced early blooms on plants before but never the sound of Peeper Frogs in January. A sound that is quite concerning when we're still well over a month away from the official start of spring.
We may not notice the warming the same way mother nature does, but mother nature has its ways of reminding us that the climate is indeed warming.
Fast forward to the first weekend of February and we're once again experiencing an arctic blast with temperatures well-below average. All happening after a month of at or above-average temps.
The good news for the Spring Peeper Frogs is they're at least well-adapted to survive these cold snaps. Not all frogs are, but they're one of the few.
But not everything will survive if it already hatched or bloomed. Those more sensitive to extreme cold will almost certainly die as a result, which is also why these prolonged stretches of mild weather in winter aren't always good.
Are the above-average temperatures welcomed? Of course, they are for most. But again. it's the long-term trends that are concerning, and the Peeper Frogs made that loud and clear as we closed out the month of January 2023.