“The shortest day has passed, and whatever nastiness of weather we may look forward to in January and February, at least we notice that the days are getting longer. Minute by minute they lengthen out. It takes some weeks before we become aware of the change. It is imperceptible even as the growth of a child, as you watch it day by day, until the moment comes when with a start of delighted surprise we realize that we can stay out of doors in a twilight lasting for another quarter of a precious hour.” – Vita Sackville-West
Yes! The hours of daylight grow longer and will continue to do so until the summer solstice. I know winter just began last month, but nevertheless this change is evident day-by-day. With the off shore winds of last week, the evening skies were a majestic indigo-blue. As mentioned in last week’s Weather in The Foothills, our summer-like winter weather would be changing soon. Yes, as the week progressed, a cool down was evident with close to freezing during the night and days barely reaching 60. By this weekend and continuing into the next week, a series of real winter storms coming down from Alaska will bring much needed rain into our area.
Within a short period of time, daytime highs have cooled more than 30 degrees. Whenever there is a sudden change in the weather, complaints of illness abound. Blame is placed on “this crazy weather we’ve been having!” So, are we dealing with a real link between infection and weather, mass hypochondria or an old wives’ tale?
How many times have we heard our elders say, “Dress warmly or put on your jacket – it’s cold outside. You don’t want to get sick and miss school, do you?” (silly question!) or, “Put your slippers on, you might catch a cold running around in bare feet!” Concerns over these matters are truly hard wired – there is no convincing otherwise. With all due respect, what do the experts (not the ones we call Mom or Dad) have to say?
Many of you may still disagree, but cold, wet and freezing weather can’t make you sick. But to avoid exposure to hypothermia and frostbite, staying warm and bundled up are an absolute necessity. Actual sickness comes from either a virus or bacteria. The weather is not the culprit of these transmissions.
One of the most convincing studies on this subject was done in Alaska several years ago. Being the coldest state in the U.S., especially this year, Alaska was the perfect place. The conclusion was Alaskans do not get more colds than anyone else in the winter.
My winter health tips:
• Play outside in the fresh air (germs like to stay inside a warm house)
• Eat well
• Get rest
Wash hands often
The upcoming days will be rainy with below average temperatures. So when you go out to play, dress appropriately and take an umbrella. And have fun!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and Official Skywarn Spotter for the National Weather Service.
Reach her at