The weather got warm again after a cold spell, making the ice on the lake start to break up.
I can't figure out the meaning of "a cold spell." Does it refer to "a cold front" or "a cold period" or something else? Thanks.
Nichec is partially right; it means a period of time, but does not refer to a magic "spell."
Here's the relevant definition from MerriamWebster.com:
3 a : an indeterminate period of time <waited a spell before advancing>; also : a continuous period of time <did a spell in prison> b : a stretch of a specified type of weather
A spell is a certain period of time. Sometimes when I would be working with my grandmother, she would say, "Let's rest a spell before we finish this task."
"Remember that cold spell we had last spring when all the flowers froze?"