Weather in the Foothills

“For this was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”

1382, Geoffrey Chaucer, English poet & writer

Historian Jack B. Oruch finds this the first literary reference to Valentine’s Day and romance and concludes that Geoffrey Chaucer is probably the original mythmaker. As the calendar shows, there remain five more weeks of winter. Why, oh why, is Valentine’s Day tied to nesting birds, romance and warm sunshiny weather?

Saint Valentine’s Day was an attempt to replace the Roman fertility festival Lupercalia. During its several days of celebration, priests and lay townsfolk sacrificed animals and ran amok through the villages in wild and oftentimes vulgar abandon. By 496 AD, Pope Gelasius yelled, “Stop!” He suggested replacing the whole mess with a nice saint’s day. Over the years, flowers and chocolate replaced the naughtiness of the day. Fortunately, the love aspect remained.

Still … The words of Chaucer better describe those of springtime, not a February winter day. According to climatologists, he was likely accurate;  the Middle Ages in Europe (900-1500 A.D.) was the medieval warm period. When Valentine’s Day first became popular, the climate was truly warmer than it is now. Those who study historical weather more or less concluded the warm-up was due to heightened volcanic activity and/or a change in solar radiation. Scientists agree those days may have been warm enough for hearts and birds to flutter in February. If it had been wintry weather, would this holiday still be the same today?

Temperatures, typical at this time of year, are forecast to conclude the week’s weather. In upcoming days there will be a couple of near misses, storm-wise. One is expected to stay north while the other slips by, missing the mark (us.) So, other than a scattering of passing clouds and a bit of inland-bound coastal overcast, the skies should remain mostly clear as high pressure dominates the area. As often happens at the tail end of unsettled weather patterns, winds kick in. On Tuesday northerly winds will shift to north-easterly ones, or better-known Santa Anas. Hold onto your hats; here come the winds … again! If all holds true, advisory level gusts in the usual Santa Ana locations – especially along the foothills – are expected.

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day with not a drop of rain in the 10-day forecast; I would forgo the gift of a red umbrella. What about a red kite?


Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service.
Reach her at