March: Lion and Lamb

“March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb”.

This old proverb refers to March’s famously changeable weather.  As a month where we transition from winter to spring, March can often start off cold and blustery, but end warm and calm.  From the beginning to the end of the month, average daily temperatures typically increase by 10°F. Exact conditions, of course, vary from year to year.

Although the precise origins of this popular phrase are unknown, many believe it is based on the constellations.  At the beginning of March, Leo (lion) is prominent in the night sky, while Aries (sheep) begins to rise toward the end of the month.

A Year of Snow, a Year of Plenty

There is an old weather proverb that says, “A year of snow, a year of plenty.”  Rooted in agriculture, it refers to the traditional process of cold winters providing snow cover for fields that prevent crops from sprouting too early.  That snow then melts in the spring and provides moisture for a successful growing season.

As we now know, this winter has been anything but traditional with most of the United States experiencing uncommonly dry and mild conditions. In fact, today the U.S. Drought Monitor showed that 38% of the country is experiencing moderate drought.  This is up from 28% in December.  Some of the states most seriously affected by the lack of precipitation include, Texas, Georgia, Florida, and parts of California.

One of the reasons for the quiet weather this winter is the northern position of the Jet Stream.  Also known as the “storm track”, the Jet Stream usually dips south in the winter bringing cold air and snowstorms to the continental U.S.  The current La Niña episode, however, has pushed the Jet Stream north keeping most of the lower forty-eight states warmer and drier than normal.

Forecasters are predicting an end to this pattern in the spring when La Niña is expected to subside.