JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The warm weather has tricked nature into behaving like March despite more than a month of winter left on the calendar.
Plants are sprouting with a spring bloom marking the early end of winter.
Warm winter temps have popped leaves out over three weeks earlier in the Southeast, according to the National Phenology Network. Scientists track the appearance of tiny leaves on the trees or the flushing of new plants peeping out of the ground.
The First Leaf and First Bloom Indices are synthetic measures of these early season events in plants, based on recent temperature conditions.
Lilacs and honeysuckles are singled out in the Index since the plants are among the first to show their leaves in spring.
Jacksonville has only had three light freezes this year and multiple record warm days and nights.
As of Feb. 12, Jacksonville has been in the 80s five times this month and seven days in January. The average high temperatures this time of year are typically in the mid-60s.
It looks like the clues from the plants could prove correct in the coming weeks.
After a short cool spell, Friday and Saturday temperatures climb next week.