Backyard Almanac

Phenology with local naturalist Larry Weber every Friday morning at 8:20 on Northland Morning. Have a question for Larry Weber? Email us and you might hear his answer on the show!


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Jade Czaia Thomason. Used with permission.

Last week at this time, we had some record-breaking heat.  The National Weather Service in Duluth recorded highs on Friday and Saturday of 94.

But on June 7, the records remained standing, and only a true weather nerd would get why Larry was so excited about it.

Also new butterflies. moths, dragonflies, turtle eggs, frogs calling, and wildflowers, this week on Backyard Almanac.

©Lisa Johnson. All rights reserved.

Was it really only a week ago we broke records with temps of 30º and 29º?

And today we're challenging the record high temp of 95º?

© JR Kelsey. Used with permission

The wind has had everything to do with our weather this week; when the winds turn off the big lake, everybody notices.

But at least it's not snowing like it did in 2019.

Tent caterpillars are out - and before you reach for the chemicals, read or listen to today's episode of Laura Erickson's For the Birds - the season of toad romance has come and gone, but everything else from wildflowers to warblers is getting a move on.

"May is greening," says Larry. "June is growing."

© JR Kelsey. Used with permission

Larry Weber says it's almost as though the plants were coiled and waiting for a little rain.

And once they got it - they're busting out all over.

JR Kelsey. Used with permission.

The first half of May (remember, lately the first and second halves of the month are dramatically different from one another) wraps up with cooler than normal temps and no rain.

And while May continues with warblers and wildflowers, birds and blossoms, spiders and sparrows - the continuing lack of rain is bad news for the vernal pools and the plants, animals and insects that depend on them.

Plant Image Library [Via Flickr]

Early spring leaves are beginning to emerge, but the forest floor wildflowers are soaking up as much sun as they can before being shaded by the leaf canopy. Warblers are beginning to return north in search of caterpillars, their spring food source, but the early leaf growth may cause caterpillars to cocoon before the warblers arrive. And a notable lack of rain yet in May has put the Northland back into a fire hazard condition.


If Larry has one piece of advice as April warms into May, it's: take a walk.  Every. Single. Day.

Janet Riegle (tree swallows), JR Kelsey (hermit thrush, leopard frog), Lisa Johnson (pelicans, maple, sweet coltsfoot)

Despite days of clouds, rain, and even snow showers, the second half of unpredictable April has been a little short of precipitation.

Luckily, we got a great day yesterday to see all kinds of flora and fauna, and starting today we go back to cool, cloudy, and a chance of rain or snow into next week.

Peter Stenzel, John Munt, Philip Bouchard/Flickr

The first of the spring ephemerals have popped up in the woods, the vernal ponds are flourishing and things are greening and budding all over.

Larry Weber says the walk you take today won't be the same as yesterday's or tomorrow, so you'd better make sure to get out as often as possible.

Copyright JR Kelsey. Used with permission.

Close to a week of wind, rain, hail (!) and clouds is enough to dampen the mood of just about anyone.

Until, of course, you hear what Larry has to say about what these days have wrought in our world outside.

Fyn Kynd/Flickr

Welcome to Win-sprin, that strange little time of year between the melting of the snow and the greening of the forest floor.

Charles (Chuck) Peterson/Flickr

March 2021 will appear on the books as a little warmer than "normal": closer to 34° than 26°.  The precipitation is above normal not only for the month but for 2021 as a whole so far, and the only "below normal" is snowfall. Larry's quick to remind us, though, that in April of 2013, we got 51" of snow!

In other news, a cloudy, 25°-ish day with no wind, might not seem too exciting, but that's only if you're looking, and not listening.

Casper Johansson/Unsplash

The low humidity and high winds forecast for today and tomorrow have prompted the National Weather Service to issue a Fire Weather Watch for the area.

Before the rain moves in on Sunday, the minimum RH dropping below 15 percent today combined with winds gusting to 20 mph today and over 35 mph on Saturday will cause near-critical fire weather conditions today and possibly exceeding critical fire weather conditions on Saturday.

Sharon Mollerus. Used with permission.

Whether it's a record-breaking 55° or snowflakes the size of drink coasters, March in the Northland is anything but full.

Lisa Johnson

One month ago today, the temps took a nose dive to below zero - and stayed there.

Now we've got temps in the 50s forecast; Daylight Saving Time is nine days away; Jupiter, Saturn and Mercury are hanging out in the early-morning eastern sky (and it's clear enough to see them) and even some early migrants are starting to show up.

And in the woods, it's getting a little spring-y there, too.