Spring isn't set to start officially until March 20, 2014, in the Northern Hemisphere. While there may be more wintery weather ahead, there is nothing wrong with starting a countdown to springtime.
1. Longer Days: The Vernal Equinox
There are never enough hours in the day but between the beginning of March or April, the Northern Hemisphere experiences Daylight Savings Time, or DTS. This is when the sun crosses the plane of the Earth's equator, making night and day of approximately equal length and resulting in an extra hour of sunlight.
The clocks will be moved forward one hour this year on Sunday, March 9, 2014.
2. Sunglasses: The UV Index Increases
Spring is the perfect time to break out a new pair of sunglasses, as the UV index rises.
“You will naturally notice a strengthening sun into the deeper parts of March, especially if it's midday and you're in your car, it'll feel warmer,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Dombeck said. “I like to think of it as an opposite of a RealFeel or wind chill index because it's more like a March sun index.”
Protection like sunglasses or sunscreen become more important as spring weather strengthens.
“The thermometer is going to say that it is 35 F outside, but you'll feel like its 40 F. People often associate getting sunburns with warmer weather, but I promise it has nothing to do with that. It's all about the increasing UV index,” Dombeck said. “During early June no matter where you are, it will start to increase."
For example, if you take a late-December day in Pennsylvania, the UV index will be a moderate three or four. Take those same conditions in Florida, and the index will be about six or seven, Dombeck said.
3. Warmer Weather: Giving Way to Outdoor Events
Another benefit of spring is outdoor events now possible due to increasing temperatures.
“Spring prefers the test-market approach: try a hint of south wind here, a puffy cumulus there and teasing breezes between freezes,” AccuWeather Expert and Senior Meteorologist Elliot Abrams said.
In other words, spring is a gradual process that doesn't happen overnight.
“In March and April, temperatures climb at a rapid pace. It's what we like to call the tug-of-war effect,” Dombeck said. “Basically every day and evening you can expect temperatures to get slightly warmer. But the term 'warmer' doesn't always mean above 50 F.”
This is the chameleon month of March. It's not going to be all warm weather right away and some areas may still have to worry about the chance of an early spring snow.
“We might not be out of the woods just yet as far as snow goes; early springtime can still have snow,” Dombeck said. "In transition months like this, as the atmosphere warms, increasing water vapor and with a variation of temperatures, there is a higher potential for storms. If its cold enough, those storms can be snow related.”
4. Flowers Spring Up
Regardless of whether you have a green thumb or not, spring flowers are a big sign of the season. Once the initial tug-of-war is over, expect to see a lot of flowers springing up from the ground.
“Flowers are creatures of tradition, they know when to bloom based on the timeframe of years past. Certain flowers such as forsythias and crocus flowers find a way to absorb the sun's rays and grow during early spring. They need moisture too, but nothing extreme,” Dombeck said.
So, there is actually some truth to the old saying, "April showers bring May flowers." Springtime is a perfect transition period because its not the over saturation of snow on the ground or that hot summer weather with little to no precipitation.
5. Fresh Fruits at the Market
Due to more pleasant growing weather, supermarket shelves will contain healthier and more locally grown fruit including, mangos, cherries, guavas, watermelon, grapes and apricots.
However, in some areas, springtime hasn't always made for an easy growing season, Dombeck said.
Back in 2012, in central Pennsylvania, it was a very mild winter and an exceptionally warm March, so many blossoms and buds began to sprout early. Then in April a normal spring regime took place with colder air and everything that bloomed was wiped out by one freeze.
“If you're a grower, you would almost want to hope and pray for a delay in warmer spring temperatures so that your crops can mature,” Dombeck said.
6. Sports Outdoors are Back
Warmer weather means even the athletes are headed outside, especially baseball players.
The Grapefruit League starts their exhibition games Feb. 25, 2014, as the Tigers host Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla. The Yankees will play Florida State in Tampa that same day. Then on Feb. 26 2014, The Cactus League starts with three exhibition games, highlighted by Dodgers at Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields, Ariz., as a preview to the Opening Series Sydney 2014.
It is only a matter of time before spring has officially sprung and the season will change. Much of the Northern Hemisphere will find needed relief from wintery weather in the next few weeks and for many this will be yet another benefit.
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