Our current cool spell reminds us that we are still very much in Winter. Sure we had the 3 day freeze back in December, but since than we have been generally way above our long term normals. However, based on what I’m seeing in the long range models , we are not likely to see any Arctic blasts thru the 1st week in March. With the longer days & higher sun angles, that means a hard freeze (below 28) is not likely. Of course with the beginning of the Mardi Gras parades, the focus is more on precipitation. Friday night’s parades may have to deal with some showers, but Saturday & Sunday parades should have no problems. So what gives regarding our lack of cold this Winter? Basically it’s been the lack of any persistent east coast trough with no “polar vortex” to bring the brutal cold to the Gulf coast. Remember the 5 year California drought was the result of a persistent west coast ridge with an east coast trough. Not this Winter. Without the ridge, California rains have erased the 5 year drought with many reservoirs over flowing. That pattern shows no signs of ending which will bring more rain to California and more mild weather for us. Basic rule of thumb…do not plant tomatoes until after March 15th UNLESS you have means to protect them against a late freeze or frost. My bird houses are repainted & up, my feeders full as I’m ready to watch the beginnings of Spring. So far, this has been a near perfect Winter. Stay tuned!