Take heart: Spring is on the horizon

Posted: March 8, 2014

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Weatherwise, there’s good news and bad news.

The good news is that winter is over, meteorologically speaking.

Unfortunately, it is not over, astronomically speaking.

Bryan Jackson, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sterling, said on Friday that above-average temperatures are looming today for the northern Shenandoah Valley.

But that doesn’t mean that spring has sprung.

Today is promising the warmest weather in a while, with highs in the mid-50s and sunshine at least for the morning hours.

But, Jackson warned, increasing clouds are expected to move in for the afternoon and evening, and could bring showers and even snow flurries as temperatures fall after sundown.

The low temperature for today is expected to be in the mid-30s.

Not full-blown winter, but not quite spring.

Jackson said those working in the weather industry mark winter by the monthly calendar because it is more efficient for their purposes. So for meteorologists, winter began on Dec. 1 and ended on the last day of February.

That means meteorological spring began on March 1.

Weather patterns, however, are much more affected by astronomical dates — meaning that milder conditions are more likely to occur after the spring equinox.

This year, that falls on March 20, when the sun passes into the northern latitudes and days begin to lengthen past the equal amount of night and day that the Latin name implies.

More sunlight means more warmth. But until that occurs, expect a roller-coaster of temperatures.

On Sunday, temperatures are expected to reach the high 40s, Jackson said, after a weak cold front passes through tonight. The thermometer could rise to 60 on Monday.

But a new storm system will likely pass through in mid-week.

Jackson said the storm center will apparently track over the Valley on Wednesday, meaning areas to the north, such as Pennsylvania, could see snow, and areas to the south should watch out for severe thunderstorms.

“We’re right in that transition zone,” he said.

Jackson said temperatures are expected to be in the upper 40s, which should bring rain. But, depending on the length of the storm — with temperatures dropping in the evening — “there could be a little snow on the back side for us.”

Then some leftover Canadian air will hold the thermometer to about 42 on Thursday, rising to 47 on Friday.

Not exactly spring, said Jackson, but not mid-winter. The average high temperature for this time of year is 53.

But don’t worry about spring.

According to Jackson, “I’m sure it will get here, eventually.”

— Contact Val Van Meter at vvanmeter@winchesterstar.com