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March: Out Like a Lion

March 28, 2011

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According to weather folklore, a stormy March that comes roaring in will meekly leave with sunshine and warm weather. Unfortunately, this year’s March entered like a lion, teased us with some nice temperatures and then reverted back to a snowy, stormy lion before stalking out.

Look at the forecasts for the last week of March – snowstorms in the Great Plains and Midwest, thunderstorms, hail and possible tornadoes in Texas and the South and rain, lots and lots of rain in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest. There is not a lamb in sight.

Still this is not all bad news. The South, particularly Texas needs the rain. Texas is in its worst drought in 44 years! It’s damaging the state’s wheat crop and forcing ranchers to reduce their herds – just when the worldwide demand for meat and grain is increasing. Having rain, even a roaring thunderstorms is better than another week of dry weather.

The U.S. Climate Prediction Centers outlook for this week’s weather hazards

Similarly, having cold weather in the Midwest will slow the snowmelt. While many people are really sick of the white (or, by now, dirty gray) stuff, scientists are worried about possible floods. There is a potential for record-breaking flooding in the Midwest and parts of the Mississippi. The slower the region warms up, the more time there is for the soil to absorb the moisture and the flooding to be reduced.

So think of the lion of March as a really ornery cat. It is independent and capricious. It is certainly not a house pet. But at least it didn’t decide to maul us. It just stormed, roared and moved on.

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Evelyn Browning Garriss, historical climatologist, is a longtime writer for The Old Farmer's Almanac. She is also editor of The Browning World Climate Bulletin and has advised farmers, businesses, and investors worldwide on upcoming climate events and their economic and social impact for the past 21 years.

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Nitrogen after snow

By NZSally

I was interested to read Catherine's comment re snow creating nitrogen for plants.

My understanding was that this is a myth. Are you able to elaborate on this?


Snow Storm

By farmerboy96

I live in upstate New York and I just heard on the news that we're supposed to get hit by another snow storm. That'll be like the fifth one during the winter season. When will spring finally be here?


By Catherine Boeckmann

I thought spring seemed slow in coming this year! The next time I'm eager for spring, I'll remember your words, "the slower the region warms up," the better! Snow is a great fertilizer, too, creating both moisture and nitrogen for plants to grow better all season.

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