Wednesday, March 15, 2017

A New Warning for the Ides of March: Beware the Weather!

           We have had some wicked months of March lately.

            Nobody around here will ever forget March 2015.  Most everybody has already forgotten March 2016.

            Two years ago, while February was the heavy snow accumulation month, the snow hung on the ground all through March because the weather never warmed up.

            Last year, 2016, the "mean temperature" for the month of March was 42.5F with an average high of 50. (Fifty sounds pretty good in these chilly wind days we've been getting used to in March this year,)
            The photo above shows an early spring bloomer, the Lenten Rose (Hellebores) that bloomed in March of 2016.

            In 2015 the mean temperature for the month of March was 33.3. That's a huge difference from last year's 42.5. Two years ago the snow pack sat on the ground refrigerating the air above it. Because the air temps seldom got much above freezing the snow melted very slowly. Because the snow didn't melt, the temperature stayed cool. A vicious cycle.

            Last year's high temp recorded in March was 77F; two years ago, only 57.  
            The second photo, showing the Quincy shoreline, was taken in March of 2015. Not much green in the middle of March in our garden either; nothing blooming, nothing even showing.

            This changeable third month of the year is no longer proving a "comes in like a lion, goes out like a lamb" month. It's either an entirely lionish month, or a mostly lamb-like one. (Maybe some Marches will go back to registering somewhere in the middle -- sheepish, let's call them.)

            The lowest temperature recorded in March last year was 21. The lowest in March of 2015 -- 9. With its coastal waters already beginning to warm (except for the old snow we kept dumping into them), Boston recorded a temperature of 9F.

[Data from Weather Warehouse:]             This year, halfway through March 2017. tomorrow's predicted high is 32 -- not a lot of melting from Tuesday's snow dump to be expected. The historical for the date is 45. That's the way the last 10 days or so have been running -- well below average.
            The first day of march this year produced a high of 63F, 20 degrees over the date's average, and the month hasn't gone anywhere near that since. We've had a high of 58 a week ago, but also a couple of weekend storms, followed by arctic cold fronts, approaching record lows for their dates. Lows of 10 and 9 on the month's first weekend, followed by exactly the same two figures on the second weekend. Also lows of 16, 23, and 14 on Monday night, right before the arrival of Tuesday's blizzard. We're heading back down again.  
            As I write Wednesday night the current temp is 23, with a predicted the overnight low of 17. Tomorrow, March 16, is predicted to warm up to a balmy 32. I don't think the frozen ice-cap on the my driveway will do a whole lot of melting under those conditions. [according to]

             Given the amount of rain we got with the so-called blizzard that brought lots of wind, the very wet snow we received hardened overnight into un-removable state locally described as "it's a rock." Trapped behind the ice barricade left by the plows, our car was liberated only because neighbors arrived with a classic old-fashioned ice chopper and a heavier metal shovel than I possessed. A steady round of downward chopping created the impression of a three-guy work gang pounding stone. That's one dead metaphor that will come alive for me. 
             The third photo I've posted here is my "calendar shot" so far for March of 2017. I don't know when I'll get to check on the progress of the Lenten Rose.

             In today's newspaper I'm told that, one, we may get another snowfall this weekend. And, two, that overall this turn for the cold is a good thing for farmers and gardeners. According to Eric Fisher writing about weather for the Boston Globe , the record warmth of late February was posing threats to plant vitality.

            Fisher writes: "If the record warmth had stuck around for another four or five days, peach buds would have swelled and more plant life would have surged into action much too early....We may have switched back to winter weather in time to keep everything asleep until the more appropriate late-March to early-April time frame."

             OK. I'm very big on the early spring emergences of late March and early April and can wait another two weeks to enjoy them. Just don't tell me we're going to get another brontosaurus-long winter like the one two years ago any time soon. I have plants, a rhododendron and a boxwood to name two big ones, that will never be the same. And neither, I suspect, will I.