March 2019 Climate Comment: In Like A Lion, Out Like A Lamb? Maybe.

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Submitted by Bill Caulfeild-Browne

There’s little doubt the month came in like a lion – the start was exceptionally cold with no temperatures above freezing for the first eight days. At night the mercury strayed into the negative mid-teens with the lowest being -19.5C on the 7th. Winds gusting to 40 kms/hr made the weather quite unpleasant.
After that, things improved and on the 14th we got the warmest day of the month as thermometers managed to register +8.9C and a great deal of thawing took place. Eight millimetres of rain helped the thaw along. From there on in, our highs were nearly all above freezing and the snow pack really began to shrink.
Weather stations measure temperature, of course, in the shade. Sunny days impart far more heat to the ground in open areas to further aid thawing, and that’s what happened in the last half of the month. We had a succession of bright, dawn-to-dusk sunny days and despite some brisk winds, spring was very much in the air. Altogether we had a dozen clear days and another three that were mostly clear.
Precipitation, mercifully, was quite low at 35 mm. The norm is 44 mm. More importantly, about half came as rain so there was only one day that serious snow clearing was needed.
For most of the month ice covered the harbours all the way out to Cove Island. Quite suddenly on the 27th it began to break up, thanks to a strong southerly wind. By the 29th there was no ice to be seen other than right inside Big and Little Tub harbours. For the first time in months we had open water!
But today, April 1st (how appropriate!), it came back as brash and pancake ice, borne on a north wind. Still, it only reaches a few hundred metres from the shore and will vanish again when the winds switch.
All in all, it was a fairly normal, slightly dry and quite sunny March. The mean temperature was 3.0C, just a third of a degree below the average. So I’ll conclude that it go out like a lamb.