In an average January eastern Ohio experiences a brief thaw around the third week of the month that in some cases can result in temperatures rising into the 50's and 60's for a few days. This year the thaw has taken its time arriving as temperatures have been below freezing for the most part since late December. Cold overnight rains have fragmented the snowpack and, with slightly longer daylight, give a sense that warmer weather is not that far away. Amphibians are also taking note of these seasonal changes. Longer photoperiods and warmer rains are cues that trigger mass migrations to seasonal breeding pools for frogs, toads and salamanders. Those with access to vernal pools should be observant especially if temperatures in the next couple of weeks rise significantly with heavy rains.
Although not as common in Belmont and Monroe Counties, Jefferson (Ambystoma jeffersonianum) and the four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) are the first to migrate in late winter followed by the more common wood frog (pictured below) and spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum) in early March. In some years migrations will even occur while ice still covers the pools.