SEASON'S GREETINGS

The balmy weather isn’t just confusing us—it’s puzzling flowers, too

On both sides of the Atlantic, December has been unusually warm for residents of the UK and the US.

In some regions, minimum temperatures are up by nearly 10°C from those expected for this time of year.

And it’s not just confusing people, but flowers too.

Daffodils are supposed to bloom in Easter, but are blooming in December across the UK. They have a mechanism to sense temperature, and, after a period of cold (between 2°C and 10°C) they are triggered to flower.

Matters are no different in the US. Washington DC, famous for it springtime cherry blossoms, has seen them occur in November and December.

When flowers are in bloom, bees and butterflies are drawn to the nectar. The pollination it results in is causing new shoots of leaves to appear in parts of the US.

Part of the reason for these unseasonably warm temperatures, at least in the US, is a record-breaking El Niño. This creates a warm band of ocean water, and shunts it up the jet stream to the north. Its effects are predicted to be felt until March, according to the Weather Channel.

So, with less than a week to go, far fewer of us can expect a white Christmas.

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