March – Somewhere between winter and spring

John explains why March is a such a confusing month that seems to have one foot in both seasons.

Spring is here! Or is it….? I think we are entitled to feel more than a little confused at this time of year.
Spring’s definition doesn’t help in clarifying things. For the purposes of keeping climate records, it begins on the 1st of March (each season being divided into three months). However, more traditionally, the Equinox (around the 20th of March) marks the first day of Spring. This is when the days become longer than the nights as the sun crosses the Equator on its journey northwards.
The weather is no respecter of such seamless astronomical transitions. Whilst the environment has been cooling off through the winter, the sun is now quickly becoming stronger, warming the soil and bringing the dormant countryside back to life.

…it can seem like ‘’one step forward, two steps back’’

This contrast between cold and warm breeds energetic weather systems, propelled towards us by blustery March winds. It’s a fickle meteorological month when changes come thick and fast, often dramatic and quite short-lived.

This atmospheric volatility certainly keeps us forecasters on our toes. The warmth will eventually win out, but in March it can seem like ‘’one step forward, two steps back’’. Indeed, some very tentative first ones are being made all around us in the countryside. Faced with snow, mud and then lush new grass beneath their hooves, spare a thought for our new-born lambs – they’re probably even more confused than we are.

(Written by John for BBC Countryfile Magazine)

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