February 2023 has been especially warm, causing early spring-like conditions throughout the U.S.
It’s been an especially mild winter (with some exceptions), and blooms are now showing up earlier than usual this year, according to the USA National Phenology Network of the University of Arizona. The network tracks spring’s arrival in the country based on plants like honeysuckles and lilacs, which are among the first plants to bloom.
A map from the network shows early blooms throughout the Gulf states, Southeastern states, and as far up as the New Jersey and New York area. This is the earliest onset of spring in the 40 years that the network has begun mapping seasonal trends, according to the Guardian.
Up the East Coast, blooms are sprouting anywhere from 10 to 20 days earlier than they’re supposed to. And though an early spring may seem welcoming to many, it’s not actually a good thing. “Early spring leaf out may result in a greater risk of frost damage to plants that begin leafing out or flowering before final winter frost events,” the National Phenology Network explained.
Washington D.C.’s famous cherry blossoms have also begun to bloom weeks early. This year’s cherry blossom festival is planned for mid-March and into April, when the flowers are supposed to be in peak bloom. “I don’t think anybody has been surprised,” Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the National Parks Service, told ABC News. “Heat drives them to bloom. In the absence of cold…we can’t be surprised that we’re having an earlier bloom.”
This week, states across the Southeast experienced record-high temperatures for the time of year. There has been little to no snow in cities like New York and Boston. Bridgeport, Connecticut has seen record-low snowfall, according to the National Weather Service. Newark, New Jersey has also seen record-low snow levels this February, which is supposed to be the snowiest time of the year for the region.
Last month was the sixth warmest January on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. States across all of New England have experienced the warmest January on record.