Monday, March 9, 2015

Trying Desperately To Find Signs Of Spring In A Reluctant New England March

Billowing clouds over St. Albans, Vermont
Sunday were similar to summer thunderheads
but they dropped snow squalls,  not rain showers.  
I got up early this Monday morning here in St. Albans, Vermont to an inch of fresh snow on top of what we've already got, and it was still snowing as I wrote this.

Here in New England, after a particularly harsh winter, I now find myself resigned to a very reluctant spring.

Oh sure, there are signs that warmer weather is on its way, but it's not coming fast enough. Most of the time March is like this in New England -- one step forward, two steps back, three steps forward, two back, etc.

But we're more impatient for spring this year, and March appears to be shaping up as a more reluctant spring month than usual.

It was way below zero last Friday. In record territory in fact. It was 12 below at my "tropical" spot in the lowlands of Vermont's Champlain Valley, as low as 34 below in Canaan, Vermont, and in the 20s below in a lot of towns.  

It sort of got warmer Sunday, and for awhile, the sun came out and there were signs a tiny bit of the deep snow cover was trying to melt. Then, during the afternoon,  it started snowing.

Lightly at first, then hard. By the time the snow squall was done, we had a little over an inch of new snow, more than making up for what was lost under the March sun during the late morning.

In situations like this, you try to console yourself by finding signs of spring amid the ruins of another round of snow.

When the snow squalls began to clear out and the sun poked through, the clouds had a billowy tall appearance, very much like summer thunderheads.

The snow squalls were convective. To get past the gobbledygook, that means the squalls were very much like summer thunderstorms, only without the lightning.

That, despite the brief bout of blinding snow, is a sign of spring. The sun is now strong enough on some days to heat the ground, cause some rising air currents to create scattered showers. This wasn't the drab overcast snow of winter, but a spring shower disguised as a snow squall.

The disguise was pretty damn good, because it felt wintry to me and everybody else, but you grab at any straw you can.  
Sundah's snow squalls dropped a little over an inch
of snow on St. Albans, Vermont Sunday. But the sun's increasing
warmth prevented the snow from accumulating
on areas that had already been cleared of snow.  

Speaking of straw, that inch of snow accumulated atop existing snow and ice, but not at all on a patch of grass that I had cleared at the edge of the driveway to help us turn around our vehicles between the snowbanks.

The sun is strong enough to get through the clouds now. It can heat darker patches of earth, so some warmth collected on the bare ground, enough to preven the snow from really sticking.

Now if we can only get rid of the snow covering 99.9 percent of my property so future snows melt more quickly, that would be a bonus.

Despite this morning's snows, some thawing is coming to Vermont and the rest of winter-bound New England, but we're not going to get rid of all the snow on the ground.

We're going to get some seasonably "warm" weather through Wednesday, with highs near 40 today and in the 40s for most of northern New York, and in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. A few places in southern New England could flirt with 50 degrees.

That's enough to get the sap flowing in the sugarbushes, and settle a little bit of the snow away.

As is always the case it seems this year, New England is getting the short end of the stick. While it gets somewhat more bearable here, a nice blast of spring weather will embrace the middle of the country. Temperatures over the next couple of days will rise to the low 60s in what was recently Arctic Chicago, and into the 70s as far north as South Dakota.

For us in New England, another cold front comes Thursday, dropping temperatures back below normal again. Again, desperate for good news, the cold wave coming at the end of the week will only feature temperatures about 5 to 10 degrees below normal, not 20 to 30 degrees below normal like last week.

Another storm is coming next weekend, but it's uncertain how much snow we will get, and if the snow will mix with rain.

After some seasonable weather early next week, that awful weather pattern that plagued us all winter will be back. The end of March looks very cold.

Still digging for some good news (I'm really desperate here), the late March cold won't be as bad as that in February, only becuase 20 degrees colder than normal at the end of March is still better than 20 degrees colder than normal in the middle of winter.

Long range forecasts for April don't  look so hot either, with signs pointing to chilly weather, then, too. But we can always lean on the fact that long range forecasts weeks down the road can be pretty unreliable.

Maybe those long range forecasts for April are wrong, and we will get repeated bursts of warm, sunny weather up here in Vermont and the rest of the Northeast.

We certainly deserve something like that. We can only hope the weather gods agree with me.

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