“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold; when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” ~ Charles Dickens
Last Saturday was one of those days … a March Miracle, the last rainstorm of winter, or just a wee bit of St. Patrick’s Day luck? Call it what you may, but the end result was rain! It not only poured, but also hailed. The foothills were intermittently drenched and pelted throughout the day. The storm was over by midnight, leaving the day’s rain total at 2.52 inches. Snow covered about two-thirds of the face of Mt. Lukens. Winter, which this year was almost non-existent, seemed to have made a last minute attempt to redeem itself.
What is this “March Miracle” weather people often speak of? After much research and some interesting results (even biblical), it seems to have derived from a weather event back in 1991. At that time California was suffering from several years of drought and one of the driest winters on record, with no end in sight. Then came March, when storm after storm pounded the west, filling reservoirs, adding to the Sierra’s snowpack and alleviating catastrophic water shortages. It was considered a miracle by meteorologists and the rest of us water dependent creatures.
Conditions this year were similar to those of 20 years ago, primarily a strong La Niña pattern. Colder than average ocean water temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific is the culprit. According to oceanographers, the temperatures are beginning to shift back to normal, which will allow storms to get back on track. Our climate is influenced by the oscillation of the La Niña and El Niño. These cycles are “nothing new under the sun.”
On Monday, there was something directly “under the sun”… the equator. The first day of spring arrived on time at 10:14 p.m., PST on March 19. At that time, planet-wide day and night were close to equal at 12 hours each. The word for equal time in Latin is equinox and vernal refers to spring, hence the term “vernal equinox.” Some will argue that spring began on the March 20, which would be accurate if you lived back east where it was 1:14 a.m. – three hours ahead of us.
Of all the seasons, spring gets the most positive publicity, and why not? Poets write of it, flowers and trees sprout and bud, birds are nesting, the weather is mild and hours of daylight grow longer.
During this transition from winter to summer, predicting the weather can be a little tricky. For this, let’s blame the mischievous leprechauns.
If you liked the weather this past week, you are in luck. A similar situation seems to be coming together again. Warm temperatures will be replaced this weekend with unseasonably cold ones. Rain is expected to move in Sunday afternoon with fairly low snow levels. Early next week, warm spring weather returns.
With umbrella in one hand and sunscreen in the other, enjoy!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.