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John Wheeler, Published April 08 2012

Weather Talk: Despite what calendar says, start of spring is subjective

The calendar says the first day of spring this year was on March 20. The actual moment of the vernal equinox varies from year to year, by as much as a day or so.

Realistically though, the start of spring is somewhat subjective. In Fargo-Moorhead, elm trees leafed out last week, about two weeks earlier than average. Green grass began to show up in sunny spots around town in the middle of March. That was about three weeks earlier than usual.

We got our first 70-degree day on March 16. That was 32 days earlier than average. Ice went out on major lakes in Becker and Otter Tail counties about four weeks earlier than average. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported widespread field work seven days earlier than average across Minnesota and 12 days earlier than average across North Dakota.

In many ways, the start of spring depends on which accounting method is used. It might even be said that the start of spring depends mostly on one’s state of mind.


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