March Is Weather Purgatory

With the promise of winter coming to an end and spring just around the corner, we have high hopes for March.

The crocuses start to pop through the ground and the sun is noticeably stronger and warmer. There also is a greater amount of daylight. The first day of spring, the vernal equinox (which will occur this year on March 19), brings us 12 hours each of day and night. 

But only hope springs eternal, as the saying goes, because March always is a disappointment, especially for those of us who live along the Massachusetts coastline.

The average high temperature on March 1 in our area is 42, with an average low of 28 for that date. Though the average high temperature increases to 51 (and the low to 37) by the end of the month, even on the warmest of March days, our proximity to the cold ocean — which still has temperatures in the low 40s throughout March — cools us by 10 degrees, which can feel even chillier if there is an onshore breeze.

In addition, with the arrival of daylight savings time (which this year is this Sunday, March 8), we may think that the additional hour of sunlight in the evening will bring milder temperatures. But daylight savings time is a trap that tricks our minds into thinking that warmer weather has arrived.

March also has the capacity for big storms. We all recall the high-tide event two years ago in the first week of March, 2018, that flooded the Boston area with the third-highest tide ever recorded in our area. 

It is common in March for powerful nor’easters to pound our seashore, bringing heavy winds, high seas, and a wintry mix, including the occasional blizzard, that belie what the calendar says.

St. Patrick’s Day falls on March 17, always a special day here in the Boston area. But who can recall a really warm one? Watching a St. Pat’s Day parade or engaging in any outdoor activity on that day or evening requires full winter gear of a hat, gloves, and coat.

So yes, while the calendar may say that winter officially is over in March, we also know that March is not really the beginning of spring. It’s somewhere in between, a version of weather purgatory — the month that we must endure before we fully are released from the trials of winter so that we can move on to the heaven of spring and summer.

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