It’s spring! (Astronomical Spring). The Spring or Vernal Equinox occurred just before midnight. The Equinox almost always occurs on either March 20 or March 21. This year it was on the 19th (EDT). In fact, this was the earliest on the calendar that the Equinox has occurred since 1896. Adding Feb. 29th is the biggest reason that it came on the 19th.
We welcomed spring with a high temperature of 62° shortly after 1 am. Then a sharp cold front came through and temperatures have fallen back into the 40s and may get all the way to 15° to 20° by daybreak Saturday.
“Equinox” means “equal night” and on the Vernal and Autumnal Equinoxes, there is equal day and night over the entire Earth. Now, if you see the sunrise and sunset for today (7:44 am and 7:55 pm for Gr. Rapids), you’ll note that it’s not exactly 12 hours. Two reasons for that. First, we don’t measure sunrise and sunset from the middle of the sun. Sunrise is when the top tip of the sun first appears over a totally flat horizon. Sunset is when the last or top tip of the sun disappears over a totally flat horizon. Also, light bends a little when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere.
Today, the sun officially rises at the North Pole and officially sets at the South Pole.
Here’s a live picture from the South Pole webcam early Friday AM (3/20/20). When I grabbed this pic., the temperature here was -73F° and the wind chill factor was -110F°. Technically, if you’re standing on the South Pole, the wind would always be blowing from the north.
Spring will IMHO continue the trend of above average temperatures and rainfall. So far, this March is running about 4 1/2 degrees warmer than average…warm, but not nearly as warm as March 2012, when temperatures were in the 80s for several days. That month ended up 15° warmer than average…the furthest from average that any month has ever been in West Michigan.
Spring is the season of showers and flowers. Average high temperatures warm from 46° today (3/20) to the low 50s by April 1 – to the low 60s by April 22 – to the low 70s by May 16 – to 80 by the time we reach the Summer Solstice on 6/20.
In the meantime, it’s going to be a windy and cold Friday. We have a Lakeshore Flood Advisory all along the lakeshore from the Mackinac Bridge through Van Buren County. It’s a Lakeshore Flood Warning for Berrien Co. MI and for La Porte and Porter Counties in Indiana. Then it’s a Lakeshore Flood Advisory for Lake Co. Indiana and Cook Co. Illinois (Chicago). We also have Gale Warnings out for the lake for gusts to 40 mph and waves as high as 7-12 feet. We’ll start the day with clouds and hopefully end with some sunshine. We’ll be sunny, cool around 40° on Sat. and then maybe mid 40s and partly sunny on Sunday morning (cloudy in the PM). Winds will be much lighter Sat. and Sun.
A little light snow is possible Sun. night mainly south of G.R. and we’ll likely see some rain during the middle (and maybe end) of next week. The above map is the Snow Futurecast for Sunday night from the GFS model. Last year we got 7.9″ of snow in March and 4.9″ of snow in April.