19 February 2008

Warm front brings feelings of springtime

A bank of clouds moving over the vineyard from the south
19 February 2008

Yesterday morning the temperature was below freezing when I took the dog out for her morning walk. There was a white layer of frost on the ground, and the sun was coming up in clear skies to the east. But there was a big bank of clouds rolling in from the south.

The rising sun behind me, brooding clouds out ahead

Those clouds were the result of a warm front coming up from Spain. This was the first warm front in a while that was able to rise up over the Pyrenees Mountains and bring warmer air into France. This morning it is raining, but the temperature is about 7ºC, or nearly 45ºF. That's a big change, since our high temperatures haven't been much higher than that for a while.

Can you see the paved Route Touristique
winding out past us into the vineyards?

February turned into a pleasant, dry, sunny month, with lows just below freezing. Seeing the sun nearly every day for the past few weeks has cheered everybody up, and the icy mornings have been good for the trees and the vines around Saint-Aignan. You couldn't really ask for a better February (especially after the miserably wet and gray January we had).

Despite yesterday's frost, the forsythia blossoms
are getting ready to burst open.

The weather report on the radio a few minutes ago said Paris could expect temperatures in the 60s F by Saturday. That means it will be spring-like here in the Loire Valley too. We've already been able to get a head start on some garden work. Unless it turns very rainy, we'll be able to do a lot more next week.

Wild primroses announce that spring can't be long in coming.

And before we know it the yard will burst into flower. The forsythia will bloom bright yellow, the ornamenal cherry tree out front will be a mass of bright pink blossoms, and the apple trees will be covered with white flowers. Then the ornamental plum tree will produce huge clusters of purple flowers. Stay tuned....


  1. It's been rather similar in London. Foggy mornings, then cold but bright and clear. Roll on spring!

  2. It is amazing that France is not that big but has such differences in temperatures. Here in Toulouse it has been a very warm winter. The last 2-3 weeks we have averaged about 15C during the day. It seems a bit colder up by you.

    The pictures are beautiful. I have noticed some bushes and trees starting to blossom. What if we have a cold spell soon, will they die?

  3. Our February afternoons have been pleasant, but more in the 10-degree rather than 15-degree range. The grape growers tell me that they don't want it to get too warm too early, because there is always the danger of a freeze as late as April or even May.

    Last year we had a warm winter and then a mediocre summer. We are hoping that this year's colder winter promises a warmer summer.

    Saint-Aignan is about 500 km/300 mi. north of Toulouse, and we are definitely in a different climate zone. But we've had no snow at all this year.

  4. Really looking forward to springtime, but it is still a bit early, isn't it?
    It's been rather pleasant on the whole, here in Paris. I am dutifully walking and walking and walking.


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