Practical Signs That Spring Is Here

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, March 17, 2015

You may have noticed that spring seems to have sprung upon us here in Pearl River County.

Astronomers tell us the spring equinox will occur this Friday. This is one of two days each year when the earth’s axis has zero tilt with respect to the sun. For reasons related to the size of the sun and how far one is north of the equator, the day with equal amounts of daylight and dark occurs several days before this “first day of spring.” In our case, that day was yesterday, Monday, March 16th.

Meteorologists, mainly for the purposes of consistent record-keeping, designate March, April, and May as the spring season, and thus March 1st as the first day of spring.

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But practically speaking, there are a number of indicators that tell us spring is here. Yellow windshields and increased allergy symptoms are signs that trees have begun their annual pollen festival. Branches of bushes that look bare at a distance are seen, on closer inspection, to be covered with swollen buds on the verge of bursting into flowers or leaves. The birds sound as if they may be holding their own version of American Idol tryouts. And birds gone for many months are reappearing, such as the purple martin I saw this past Saturday. Daylight Saving Time kicked in a little over a week ago, and even though the days are only a few minutes longer than they were before the time change, the shifting of an hour of light from morning to afternoon causes many of us to notice the lengthening days.

The weather certainly seems to have shifted into early spring mode as the polar jet stream has receded, at least for now, far to our north.

After a cold snap during early March, the past week had temperatures at or above normal.  This trend will continue through Friday of this week with highs in the low 80s to mid 70s.

Most of the county received two to three inches of rain last week. After a drier than normal fall and winter, this rain helped make up a portion of our rainfall deficit. The Pearl River is high, but nothing unusual for this time of year.

We will have another chance for showers beginning Wednesday as a weak cool front approaches the Gulf South. The frontal boundary hangs around our area through the weekend, and with weak disturbances moving through the westerly flow aloft, there are chances of showers Wednesday through the weekend.

In addition to longer days, more pollen, and warmer weather, spring also means increased chances of severe thunderstorms.

While no severe weather is anticipated with this week’s weak cool front, the long-range computer weather models indicate a more potent system next week, which could bring severe weather followed by sharply cooler weather.

But, that’s a week away, and there’s no reason to take the model predictions too literally that far in advance.

Meanwhile, enjoy the mild weather and associated lower electricity bills.

Some of us will use the savings for extra allergy medication.

By Skip Rigney