Little Winters

North Carolina weather is fickle – especially during spring. One minute the sun beats down on you; the next, icy winds shoot shivers up your spine.

The weather will go back and forth like this for the next month as cold fronts move in and out. Around here, we call these cold spells “little winters.”

Across the state, there are six little winters:

  • Redbud Winter – Hits when the redbud trees have begun to bloom.
  • Dogwood Winter – Arrives with the flowering dogwood.
  • Whippoorwill Winter – Coincides with the first songs of the whippoorwill.
  • Locust Winter – Rolls in during the short blooming season of the locust trees.
  • Blackberry Winter – Occurs when the blackberries bloom.
  • Cotton Britches Winter – Strikes when you finally put away your winter clothes.

I carried my houseplants outside a week ago, only to have to turn around and bring them right back in on Monday. That night temps dropped down to freezing. By tomorrow, it’ll be 70 again.

Redbud winter hit us at this same time last year and killed off my camellias before they could bloom. Luckily, this year my flowers opened up before the singularity blew in.

Little winters arrive at different times, depending on where you live. In some places, you don’t even get all of them. 

Back in Appalachia, we experienced every little winter that exists (and some that didn’t). But the closer you get to the coast, the warmer it gets – and the more implausible a late cold snap becomes.

Blackberry winters are rare here in the Sandhills, and cotton britches winter is non-existent. I’m okay with that, though. I appreciate the balmy months of May and June.

Leave a Comment