The sap festival is a sign of spring, but the weather has some catching up to do
WITH THE EXCEPTIONAL
HIGHS of February, you would be forgiven for thinking we had escaped the chilly lows of the season for good. But the weather is seldom as straightforward as that, and we may be in for a few more weeks of coolness before we kick off then spring season in earnest, suggests a senior climatologist with Environment Canada.
“My best advice, there’s that little piece of folklore that says, ‘til April’s dead, change not a thread,’” said David Phillips. “Don’t put away the parka or the balaclava, and don’t take the snow tires off quite yet because we just don’t see a rush to spring coming – sometime in April, but certainly not in the beginning.”
For those heading to the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival this Saturday, temperatures a shade cooler than normal is what’s expected; but keep an eye on the forecast and plan ahead, and the day should be every bit as enjoyable as ever.
“Normal highs in Elmira, Guelph, Kitchener would be a high of plus-7, not plus-2, plus-3, plus-1,” said Phillips of the current forecasts. “It’s not that the nights are so cold, but it’s just that we just can’t get any calories of heat from the day and that, I think, is disconcerting to a lot of people.”
Spring certainly seemed to arrive early this year in the final two weeks of February, with temperatures hitting balmy highs of 15 degrees, and the precipitation restricted to rain and not snow.
“I think we were seduced in some ways to think that spring had already arrived. We had put up with a good amount of winter, some long bouts of cold and some snow – not record cold, not record snow, but enough of that to know where we live,” he said.
While February offered a glimmer of hope, March, by contrast, was anything but dependable. The temperature covered quite a range over the 31 days, from highs of plus-9 to lows of minus-9.
“March has really been March,” summarized Phillips. “It’s the fickle month, very fitful kind of weather. You often get a little ... summer wants to show up and winter wants stay on ... So I think it will be chalked up as it came in like a lion and it went out like a lion, and that wasn’t very nice.”
While March brings about the official start of spring, April is the month when we can expect the most warming to take place in any given year. Typical weather in April is about eight degrees higher than March, so warm weather is indeed on the way, says Phillips. However, when in the month it actually arrives is a little more amenable to circumstance.
“You had nine centimetres of snow in your area last April, so April can give you some winter-like weather,” he said, but adds that it’s not the snow that people need to worry about too much, but rather when that warm spell will finally arrive.
“So we know the warmth is coming, but it’s taking its sweet time. You’re just going to have to be a little bit more patient. We clearly are not going from slush to sweat, that’s for sure.”