Author Anna Quindlen seems to have no tolerance for February. She explains, “February is a suitable month for dying. Everything around is dead, the trees black and frozen so that the appearance of green shoots two months hence seems preposterous, the ground hard and cold, the snow dirty, the winter hateful, hanging on too long.”

Her disdain would not applicable to the February we just had, since it was an unusual one in terms of weather and natural occurrences.

While February is the third coolest month (behind December and January), last month was one for the records in terms of high temperatures. Boston broke their highest daily temperature record on Feb. 24. Their 71 degrees was the highest ever for that day since regular record keeping began in 1895.

A climate scientist from the National Centers for Environmental Information shared that in the first three weeks of February more than 5,294 daily high temperature records were broken across the country. Conversely, there were only 85 low temperature records broken over the same time period, making for a high to low record ration of 62 to 1. A normal ratio would be one to one.

A few reasons have been suggested for the warmer than normal temperatures we have been having in Southern New England. One explanation is the lack of a polar vortex coming down from the North. Another is the presence a more northerly than usual jet stream. And of course, climate change, which assures that this warm temperature trend could continue.

Over time, it seems that February is warming faster than other months — perhaps it should be renamed Marchuary. Consider that in the last century, February temperatures rose 3.1 degrees Fahrenheit. March rise in temperature comes in second with a 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit increase, while the lowest increase in the last century was September with a 0.8-degree increase. There seems to be a trend in recent years of increasing temperatures. February was the 10th straight month of above average temperatures, and 19 of the last 20 months were warmer than normal.

These temperatures could be affecting the phenology, or timing, of plant and animal occurrences and emergences. Consider that the first report this year of pinkletinks calling was on Feb. 24, two weeks ahead of their usual singing. Snowdrops, crocuses and primrose are also blooming, though red-winged blackbirds and grackles seem to be right on their usual schedule.

While both weather (short term) and climate (long term) changes seem evident, it is difficult to make sweeping generalizations of such complex phenomenon. It is, however, preposterous to refuse to accept that climate change is happening. Science and common sense observations over time provide enough evidence for concern, even as a war on science (and scientists) occurs.

A cynic might agree with nineteenth-century journalist Charles Dudley Warner, who observed (though the quote is often attributed to his friend Mark Twain): “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” 

Of course, the first step to doing anything about a problem is to observe and record, and to note when records are broken, which is the job of those maligned scientists.

Suzan Bellincampi is director of the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary in Edgartown, and author of Martha’s Vineyard: A Field Guide to Island Nature.