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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Vernal Equinox Doesn't Signal End of Winter Weather

Today is the first day of Spring. The Vernal Equinox happens at 12:57 p.m. EDT, meaning the Sun's rays are directly above the Equator. Theoretically, there are 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness over any spot on the face of the Earth. We'll enjoy a milder day with a high temperature in the lower 50s. However, the Equinox doesn't necessarily mean an end to Winter weather.

In fact, 58 years ago today a snowstorm dumped just about a half-foot of snow on Bridgeport. Take a look at the front-page of The Bridgeport Post from the following day. According to the article, "Winter rallied its retiring forces yesterday and today and struck at the Bridgeport area with a wind-driven snowstorm. Towns along the Merritt Parkway reported 10 to 12 inches and Danbury had 16." Click on the image to see a larger version.

Although the normal monthly snowfall for March (4.3") is less than a half-foot, nearly a foot of snow fell on two separate occasions. Just over 11 inches of snow fell on March 22, 1967 (see the front page of The Bridgeport Post below), and the unforgettable Storm of the Century, Saturday, March 13, 1993, produced 10.6" at Bridgeport. More than a half-foot of snow (7.6") fell as late as March 29, 1974.

In addition, temperatures can vary significantly through the end of the month. Record low temperatures fell into the single digits March 18 (nine degrees) and March 19 (four degrees), 1967, and a record low of 16 degrees happened as late as March 29, 1970. In fact, much colder air will arrive by the start of next week with daytime high temperatures only in the middle 30s, a far cry from the 50-degree normal high for this time of the year.

April has also seen its fair share of snow, too. You may recall that over a half-foot of snow fell Wednesday, April 10, 1996, capping the snowiest Winter on record at Sikorsky Memorial Airport. Also, a half-foot of snow fell April 6, 1982, which postponed Opening Day at Yankee Stadium. A half-inch of snow fell as late as April 19, 1983, and a trace of snow fell as late as April 28, 1966. The normal snowfall for the entire month, however, is less than an inch (0.9").

April can be quite chilly, too. Record low temperatures of 19 and 18 degrees were recorded April 6 and 7, during the 1982 snowstorm. Even though the average high temperature climbs to 60 degrees by the end of the month, the mercury has fallen into the 20s and 30s quite frequently in mid-to-late April. A record low of 29 degrees happened on April 22, 1975.

Happy Spring!