New garden at Heller household starts with pet bet

Post by Chief Meteorologist Tim Heller

It all started with a goldfish. My youngest son wants a goldfish and my wife said he could get one if he could prove that he's ready to take care of something, like a garden. What does a goldfish have to do with a garden? I don't know. But now we have a garden, the first step in getting a goldfish.

According to Earthgauge, an environmental resource, gardening provides physical activity, reduces stress and can lead to healthier eating. And since April is National Garden Month, and the weather is not too hot, this is the perfect time to start a garden.

You don't need a big backyard. We're starting small with a raised bed alongside the garage where the plants will get 4-6 hours of direct sunshine. If all goes well, in a few months we'll have a healthy crop of tomatoes, peas, beans, onions and greens. And one goldfish.

Furry animals aren't the best weather predictors

So Punxsutawney Phil thinks we're going to have an early spring? Tell that to the folks in the northeast where a major winter storm is expected to dump 18-24" of snow this weekend.

Phil might be the most famous animal known to "predict" the weather but he's not the most accurate. According to, Phil's forecast is accurate only 39% of the time.

Growing up I always heard that the Woolly Bear Caterpillar could predict the severity of the upcoming winter. If the reddish-brown stripe on the caterpillar was wider than usual, it meant the coming winter would be mild. If the strip was thinner than usual, it meant the winter would be quite harsh. Of course, I know now that's not true.

Outside of humans, the only accurate weather observer in the animal world is the cricket. Count the number of chirps you hear in 13-seconds and add 40 to figure out the air temperature. This works!

2012 Weather Review: Warmest on Record

The year 2012 was the warmest on record in both Houston and Galveston.

Even though last summer wasn't as hot as 2011, temperatures throughout the year averaged 2.3 degrees warmer than normal in Houston. It was 2.7 degrees warmer than normal in Galveston in 2012. The hottest day of the year was June 26 when the thermometer hit 105.

The charts below list the top five warmest years on record.

Rain was plentiful at the beginning of 2012, but by November our part of the state was back in a drought. Although some heavy showers fell at the end of December, for the year rainfall averaged less than normal. 47.21" of rain fell at Scholes Airport in Galveston in 2012. That's 3.55" below normal. It was even drier in Houston where only 42.32" of rain fell at Bush Intercontinental Airport last year. That's 7.45" below normal.

All local weather records are maintained by the National Weather Service office in League City.

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