Spring Equinox: Expectations Versus Reality

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The crocus flower is an early sign of spring. (Volkova Irina/Shutterstock)

Jason Samenow, chief meteorologist for The Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, explains the climatology behind this change of seasons and mitigates expectations for the first day of spring, plus listener call-ins about their first day of spring traditions.


Jason Samenow

Comments [31]

EKM from NYC

"Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York..." - first line of the famous monologue from "Richard III". So, technically, "coined" by Shakespeare :)

Mar. 20 2014 02:20 PM
Davood Rahni from Westchster NY

Happy Persian New Year!

Nowruz Pirouz va Khojasteh Bad!

This is a special e-bulletin for Nowruz, and so, it merits your precious time to enjoy each piece showcased below:

1. Nowruz Folkloric music

2. The first link is as above. And so, scroll down and click on each Youtube link herein

3. Nowruz, the Persian New Year at the spring vernal equinox -

4. Nowruz, the Persian New Year at the spring vernal equinox

Mar. 20 2014 01:31 PM


Global warming theory posits more extreme weather events - hot, cold, wind, and all forms of precipitation - as the caps melt! Once the caps are completely melted - and this may never happen - the temperature will only go up up up.

If you had spent more time actually listening to "An Inconvenient Truth" rather than the paid FNC nay-sayers, you wouldn't be playing catch up right now.

Mar. 20 2014 11:00 AM
Steven from Bklyn

Back in the late 1950s when I was in elementary school here in Brooklyn, one of the students did a full year project where he posted the daily temperature in both NYC and a city in Alaska, Anchorage I think it was. The surprising result and the point of his exercise was to show how often it was warmer there.

Mar. 20 2014 10:37 AM
chantal from ny / dc

hahaha i can't stop laughing!
with regard to char-shanbeh soori -- when you say I will give you my yellow color (sign of sickness), and you give me your fiery red color (sign of healthiness), you're saying it to the fire as you jump over it, not to other people! you're not supposed to wish your illnesses upon other people! hahaha!! poor weather guy!

Mar. 20 2014 10:35 AM
Saskia from NYC

Well myth or not, we balance eggs every year on the spring equinox. It always works. I managed to make it work one time of the day of the fall equinox, but it did not last long. I have tried other days and failed. Whether you believe me or not does not matter. This tradition entertains me every year again.

And I love winter. I love the changing of the seasons.No complaints here.

Mar. 20 2014 10:35 AM

Brian, We jumped over 4 fire pits in east village last night, and have been the last few years. finally this year it was shut down by fire department.

I have done this tradition as a shia Afghan going back since my childhood all in the united states. Some fires are small and others are very nice and big. The events are lots of fun and a great tradition to share with our son and extended family.

Mar. 20 2014 10:33 AM
Lisa Douglass

A few years ago, I observed off my back terrace some UWS neighbors (adults, holding the hands of small children) jumping over 3 or 4 bonfires they'd built in their back courtyard.
I had to search the Internet to find out what was going on and discovered Nowruz. I felt so ignorant.
A neighbor called the fire department, who came and closed down the celebration, which I have not seen since.

Mar. 20 2014 10:32 AM
Alan from Manasquan, NJ

Today is not the first day of Spring. Spring begins on March 1. This has been decided by climatologists based on data, and should not be decided by astronomers.

Mar. 20 2014 10:29 AM
Alan Robock from Manasquan, NJ

Today is not the first day of Spring. Spring begins on March 1. This has been decided by climatologists based on data, and should not be decided by astronomers.

Mar. 20 2014 10:26 AM
nissan from nyc

It's new year for the Jews too. The month of Nissan, Jews left Egypt and we're given freedom. Happy new year to all celebrating this month

Mar. 20 2014 10:25 AM
NYC Resident from NYC

Standing an egg on the equinox - is an urban legend.

There is absolutely no truth to it.

If an egg can stand, it can do so on any day of the year and is a function of the shape of the eggshell, its contents and any calcium deposits on its outside.

Mar. 20 2014 10:25 AM
steven from manhattan

I never understood people complaining about a cold or wintery winter -- winter is supposed to be cold and snowy, and thank goodness my kids can still experience such a wondrous thing. Seasons are beautiful, bring fascinating change and add colorful spice to each and every year. Dress warmer if you will, or move to Florida, but don't spoil the beauty of winter for the rest of us, even as we celebrate the coming of spring. I just hope global warming doesn't ruin it all for my kids and their future kids... And speaking of which, how many more years of "research" does Jason want before he's satisfied? The evidence is overwhelming, those who predicted exactly what we've been experiencing may in fact have gotten it right, and we're now past the point of wondering -- we have to act now to save our planet from our human greed, avarice and foolish disdain for the natural ecosystems that are our beautiful planet.

Mar. 20 2014 10:25 AM
Tom from Highland park, nj

I know that it is truly spring when the pin oak trees drop their remaining leaves. The pin oak tree retains some of it's leaves over the winter. They are pointy dark brown leaves that stay on the tree until the buds of the new growth start to pop. Regardless of the date on the calendar and the survarity or mildness of the winter. Or the location I live. This has been a reliable indication (maybe a bit late lagging and cautious. ) of when we are truly DONE with winter.

Mar. 20 2014 10:23 AM
Robert from NYC

So Happy New Year to you all who celebrate. In the middle ages New Year started on the first day of Spring.

Mar. 20 2014 10:23 AM
oscar from ny

Yeah right..feels like they put a dome in top us or something clogged on the ozone layer..definitely the Antichrist the false prophets and all demons are prepared to take our souls..I hope we have god in our side to relieve us of that pain..

Mar. 20 2014 10:23 AM
Robert from NYC

Ah, I guess I like winter because I'm a capricorn where the sun goes in winter, tropic of capricorn! Maybe not.

Mar. 20 2014 10:22 AM
Robert from NYC

I do love winter but this winter, I must admit, was a bit much only because the snow was one on top of the previous. I don't mind the snow storm spaced over the season but the way we got them this year was as if they were tripping over each other and tripping right on top of us!
I'll start bitching in the HOT summer not in the winter. Not one of those who wishes for winter in summer and summer in winter, only for winter in summer.

Mar. 20 2014 10:20 AM
Marylou from Manhattan from Manhattan

"The Winter of our Discontent"….SHAKESPEARE!!!!! "Richard 3"

“Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.”

Mar. 20 2014 10:19 AM
benjoya from Brooklyn

The Winter of Our Discontent is a great book, but Steinbeck got the title from Shakespeare. (Richard III)

Mar. 20 2014 10:19 AM
Joyce from NYC

Isn't science wonderful. No matter what happens, you can go back and find a scientist that said it would happen (this causes that which causes this other thing, and the jet stream goes this way instead of that way), and you have confirmed global warming.

Yep, a cold winter means global warming. And a warm Alaska means global warming. And record ice in Antarctica means global warming.

I wonder why surveys show a loss of faith in science.

Mar. 20 2014 10:19 AM

Winter of our discontent-is from Richard III by Shakespeare -- Steinbeck took it from him...

Mar. 20 2014 10:19 AM

Now is the winter of our discontent,
Made glorious Summer by this sun of York.
Richard III, W. Shakespeare

Mar. 20 2014 10:18 AM
Margot from nyc

Say "Climate Change." This is what it really is and is less subject to the skepticism brought on by "global warming."

Mar. 20 2014 10:17 AM

It gets warmer = global warming.
It gets cooler = global warming.

Global warming = the theory that can never be proved wrong.

Mar. 20 2014 10:17 AM
Bob from Huntington

C'mon folks, anyone who remembers the winters of the late 70s knows this past winter wasn't even close to what we've endured before. Remember when they were using front-end loaders to clear cars off of the snowbound streets in some cities?

Anyhow, I'm sorry to see winter end because it means we are getting closer to summer--which in New York has become an increasingly insufferable period of heat and humidity more akin to what is typically experienced in Atlanta.

Mar. 20 2014 10:16 AM
Jeb from Brooklyn

If this is potentially the new normal, what are meteorologists doing to warn cities about the infrastructure impacts of increased precipitation, wild swings in weather, etc.

It's killing budgets and destroying infrastructure while spiking energy use in the hottest months.

Mar. 20 2014 10:16 AM
fuva from harlemworld

He meant it's a hypothesis not a theory...

Mar. 20 2014 10:14 AM
Ian from Brooklyn

Hey Winter, don't let the door hit you in your polar vortex on the way out.

Mar. 20 2014 10:08 AM
urbangranolagirl from jersey city

Let the sock boycott begin!!

Mar. 20 2014 10:05 AM
Robert from NYC

I miss winter already. )-:|

Mar. 20 2014 10:03 AM

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