Cold shortage

At the end of the first week of January, the region still awaits its first "cold snap," defined by National Weather Service climatologist Mark DeLisi as three consecutive days in which the official temperature fails to get above 35.

We came reasonably close this week, but the reading at Philadelphia International Airport nudged up to 36 by lunchtime yesterday after consecutive daytime highs of 33 and 30.

Temperatures are heading to the 50s today and tomorrow, followed by a modest cool-down. But right now the next run at the elusive cold snap isn't in sight.

If one wonders whether it is possible to make it from December through March without a cold snap, the answer most definitely is yes.

By our count it has happened nine times since the winter of 1889-90. Most recently, the winter of 2005-06 passed without such a chill spell.

Philadelphia went three years -- from Feb. 27, 1990 to Feb. 26, 1993 -- without a single cold snap.

And in the balmy winter of 1997-98, the temperature went above 35 in all but four days.

Your heater probably noticed.