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What can we expect in March?

Posted by David Epstein  March 1, 2013 06:08 AM

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Sunshine starts our first day of March but clouds will fill back in this afternoon with the risk of a rain shower or two. There could be a few wet snow flakes over the higher terrain. Temperatures will remain typical for this time of year in the lower 40s. Since March begins today I thought it would be fun to look at some of the weather statistics we know about for the 3rd month of the year. March means big changes and two of the biggest occur with light and temperature. I might not get the forecast right every day in March, but I do know that we will gain a lot of light. On March 1st the sun sets at 5:34; on the 31st it sets at 7:09. Of course, 1 hour of that afternoon increase is due to daylight saving time, which starts on Sunday the 10th. If you are a morning person like me you won’t like the sunrises being back to after 7a.m. for a few
days. daylight in boston.pngWe will have to wait until the end of the month to have our sunrises back to around 6:30. All told, we gain just about 90 minutes of daylight this month and, after the 17th, the nights will once again be shorter than the days.
I'll be updating my weather forecasts on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there.

Many years have snow in March and many others don’t. In 1993 there was nearly 40 inches of snow in Boston. Several of the past few years have seen less than an inch of snow. Back in the mid 1950s and early 1960s there were 6 March’s in a row with 9 or more inches of snow. Averages are basically meaningless for March. Snowfall is generally very low, or very high. The pattern would seem to favor some snow in March this year. Although many places have snow on the ground this week, by the end of
the month, 95% of the time, the ground is bare.

Along with the added daylight comes an increase in temperature. At the start of the month many of our daytime highs remain in the 30s and lower 40s, but by the end of the month we can see several days in the 50s and even 60s. A warm March can bring a day or two of summer heat and we have almost hit 90F in previous years.average temps in boston.png The month can also be cold, with temperatures in the single numbers and teens at night not being uncommon in years past. Looking at the jet stream configuration for the first half of
March, temperatures are going to be colder than you would expect. I even see some signs that cold air will penetrate quite far south in the next couple weeks, perhaps bringing record cold in some places south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Cloud and precipitation of some kind is a good bet in March. About half the time it is cloudy and about half of the days will have some precipitation. One of the reasons the month is somewhat unsettled is that the jet stream is starting to move north and the contrast between winter and spring brings with it plenty of weather. More generally, moisture levels as a whole start to increase in March. We don’t see many, if any, arctic outbreaks of air and this means that the air inside our homes won’t be quite as dry
as the colder months of January and February

Depending on how aggressive you want to be in the garden, March does begin planting season. Fava beans, peas, lettuce, radish, carrots, and other cold weather crops can be planted by the end of the month. Inside, you can start many of your seedlings this month. I generally start my tomatoes in the first couple of weeks of March, which is about 8 weeks before they will go into the ground. Early this month is also the time to prune your blueberry bushes. In this week’s video I show you how to keep your blueberry bushes healthy and yielding big, juicy berries.

I'll be updating my weather forecasts on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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