It was a day to be out. Commercial corridors were busy. Corners became spots for making conversation. Dirt-bike riders hit their wheelies. Parents watched their kids explore jungle gyms. One couple taking a stroll along Girard Avenue swung their arms gleefully as they held hands. At Penn Treaty Park, Abayomi Oladeinde sat on a bench with his daughter and watched the river flow. All he wanted, he explained, was the fresh air.
“You have a cough?" he posed as an example. "The fresh air will neutralize everything you have.”
Throughout the summer, Oladeinde, 66, drives to that park for the healing benefits of just breathing, the way that he did by the lagoon or by the ocean in his native Nigeria years ago. He wasn’t going to let Saturday’s upper-60s temperatures slip by him, but he also said the winter warmth makes him a little worried.
“People are talking about climate change,” he said. “This roller-coaster weather is going to have a negative effect [at some point]. We need to be careful. We need to be watchful.”
Philadelphia doesn’t really waste nice weekend weather. If anything, based on the still-damp sidewalks and thick blanket of clouds, Saturday showed that Philadelphians will even treat temperate weather as an opportunity. But in public spaces in Fishtown and West Philadelphia, residents spoke to both the pleasure of a mild day in January and concerns around changing climates. Or as Quentin Francis, who was out playing basketball with friends and family in Cobbs Creek, put it: “a suspiciously nice day.”
This was record-breaking weather by Saturday afternoon, when the high temperature reached 67 degrees. According to the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, the warmest Jan. 11 on record had previously been in 1975, at 66 degrees. (Records date back to 1873.)
Krista Booker, 24, of Sicklerville, and Trevor Philbrick, 23, of Lansdale, had come to the city to have breakfast with friends.
“We didn’t want to go home since it was so nice out,” Philbrick explained as the two shared a bench in Penn Treaty Park and a breeze where warmth and chill commingled coming in from the river. “This is my ideal temperature.”
Booker was also loving how the day felt.
“I was telling him, I just get the best mood the warmer it is,” she said, later reflecting: “It’s hard to not be selfish. A part of me is like, ‘Oh yes, good.' But another part of me is like, ‘Is it good?’ ”
A 2011 study from the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology revealed that when survey-takers experienced warmer weather — or even a hotter-than-usual room — they were more likely to believe global warming is real. That result was so for both conservatives and liberals.
As reported in The Inquirer, hotter temperatures and bigger storms for Philadelphia have become common in recent decades. According to a 2018 analysis, out of the wettest months on record, six have happened since 1994. Of the heaviest recorded snowfalls in Philadelphia, five have happened since 1996.
“Global warming is a thing,” said Kijana Anderson, 20, outside Laura Sims Skate House in Cobbs Creek.
“That’s definitely facts,” his friend Teriq Mapp agreed.
“I would have never expected it to be 60 degrees in January,” Anderson continued, giving a low estimate.
“It’s a good thing, though,” Mapp replied. That observation was followed by less optimistic words.
He wasn’t “so much concerned,” he clarified, “but [I] wish other people were enlightened about the environment. Because what we do on a day-to-day basis impacts the environment and our health.”