ON THE EDGE. We’re working our way through winter, and we’ve hit our fifth signpost of the season with the midway point of February. We go through our Winter Severity Index and add some points today, taking stock of wildlife stressors for the season.
Featured Photo: A rooster pheasant puffs up against the cold along a cattail stand Wednesday afternoon near Bismarck. Simonson Photo.
WEATHER (Bismarck Forecast):
Today: Fri 2/15 – Cold climb. – Hi 2, Lo -23. Wind E@8
Tomorrow: Sat 2/16 – Lt. Snow – Hi 9, Lo 0, Wind E@10
SOLUNAR (Bismarck Times):
Moonrise Moonset Overhead Underfoot
1:38PM 4:28AM 9:34PM 9:04AM
Moon Phase: Waxing Gibbous (79% Full)
EDGE HOUR: 1:00-2:00PM. Moonrise will help with a mid-afternoon bite as things “warm” up to around 0 in the Edge Hour.
WHAT’S THAT WSI? You probably noticed, the last couple weeks were a little chillier than anything we experienced in the first half of winter. A cold pattern has settled in over the West and upper Midwest, and we’re keeping an eye on mounting snow cover as well to determine where we sit in our WSI numbers, an armchair estimate as to how harsh each winter (Dec. 1 – Mar. 31) is on area wildlife.
Each day that hits 0 or less, or there are 10 inches or more of snow on the ground gets a point for each category. Our thresholds are: Mild <50 points, Moderate 50-90, Difficult 91-140, Severe 141+ out of a total of 242 possible points for the four-month period. As of Jan. 31, the score was 13 out of 124 points, a mild start.
However, bitter cold has dominated the recent weather news, with 12 of the first 14 days of February hitting below zero, forcing deer to herd up and game birds to find thermal cover. Movement of animals was also notably limited during this stretch. With a snowfall event last weekend, the region also topped 10 inches (25cm) of ground cover for the first time this season, adding to the stress on wildlife. With three days in the books at 10 inches or more, we tack on an additional three points to our two-week score, for a total of 15.
We now sit at 28/152 on the DEO WSI scale, and still on track for a moderate winter, but as this pattern doesn’t seem to want to budge, we’ll have to wait for a major weather event to break winter’s grasp, or a it’ll be a slow march to spring.
Stay tuned, stay warm and stay sharp!