Longer days ... and shorter
March 20 is the first day of spring and the vernal equinox. Depending on your location in relation to the equator, this could mean one thing ... or the complete opposite.
Monday, March 15, 2010 - 23:18
I grew up in Ohio. As a child and young adult I took four distinct seasons for granted. The summers were hot and humid, most days were spent riding my bike and playing at the local pool with friends. Halloween in fall meant wearing costumes on cold, brisk nights; the trees were smack in the midst of losing their colorful autumn foliage. At Christmas, it was almost gauranteed to be white. The winter wonderland lasted sometimes for weeks and weeks. And then there was spring. The crocuses, tulips and hyacinths popped out of the ground with a vengeance as soon as the days took on their warm, wet characteristics. The maple trees sprouted little, dangling, flowery buds and seed-filled helicopters. The robins came back to eat worms off the sidewalks when it rained.
When I lived in Virginia, the seasons were similar to the ones in Ohio, except the summers were longer and hotter. The winters were a lot more mild.
At over 7,000 feet elevation in Wyoming where I live now — and I'm sure I've mentioned this before — we are lucky if spring shows up in May. And spring here is a mysterious entity. Sometimes it means snow in June (or July) and the trees put on their leaves with an obvious hesitation. The nights contain a perpetual chill and sometimes it's summer before you ever realize it was even spring.
But then there are places south of the equator, like Madagascar. It's literally the flip side of the world. And right about now, "spring" means the days are getting shorter and cooler. The leaves of the clove trees are losing a bit of their green vibrancy and if you ever have the chance to look really close, you can see a very slight hint of what we traditionally consider fall. The height of lychee season has long since ended, the threat of typhoons is great, and the heavy rains are becoming more and more consistent.
To me, the shifting from dark to light and light to dark is the true essence of spring. The vernal equinox, which coincides with the first day of spring, March 20, symbolizes true equilibrium. All over the world, the length of day and night is the same. Yet at the South Pole, the sun sets for six months. At the North Pole, for the first time in six months, the sun shines again. This day means much more than tulips pushing through the soil — it literally means balance for a day and then swinging from one side to the other.
So instead of dwelling on how cold and snowy it is in Wyoming, here's a look at some seasonable temperatures and forecasts found around the globe:
Las Vegas, Nev. — It is highly unusual for Las Vegas to receive more than an inch of rainfall in any given month. January, February and March tend to be the wettest months, however. The average high temperature for Las Vegas in March is 69°F and the average low is 47°F. This week, the forecast calls for sunny skies and highs in the mid 70s.
Antananrivo, Madagascar — The forecast this week for Antananarivo is looking okay, temperature-wise (highs in the 80s all week), but on the precipitation side of things, there is a chance of rain and thunderstorms all week. After March 20, the days will be getting shorter and the weather becoming cooler. Average highs for June, July and August range in the 50s. The east coast region faces the rainy season and the threat of tropical storms and typhoons.
Buenos Aires, Argentina — The weather in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is also cooling down a bit. The average temperatures for March are highs near 82°F and lows in the 60s. June and July are the coldest months but the forecast looks good for today and tomorrow: mostly clear, some clouds and a high of 71°F. Thunderstorms are expected later in the week.
Cheyenne, Wyoming — For the next few days, the weather in Cheyenne is expected to hit the 60s and then later drop to below freezing. There is a 50 percent chance of snow forecasted for Friday. If you like cool, dry, sunny weather and can tolerate long, cold winters then Cheyenne is the place for you. There's more than 300 sunny days a year and the average summer temperatures are in the 60 degree range. However, you must be forewarned, those 300+ days of sunshine are accompanied by approximately 170 days below freezing. Bundle up!
Cleveland, Ohio — The forecast for Cleveland looks like this: partly cloudy all week (no big surprise for Northeast Ohio) and the temperature will hover around 50 degrees. But the weather in Cleveland will be warming and clearing up. While average winter temperatures for Cleveland stay in the upper 20s and lower 30s, the spring and summer months can be quite pleasant with averages in the 60s and low 70s.
Washington, D.C. — With the cherry blossoms just around the corner, the weather for Washington, D.C., looks great this week. The weather will be warming up all week and it is expected to clear on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday with end-week temperatures in the low 60s. Now that's spring! Average temperatures for March, April and May vary from the mid 40s to the mid 60s. Summers in this area can definitely get a little hot and humid.
Cairo, Egypt — It's getting warmer in Cairo. Average temperatures for March are highs of 73°F and lows of 53°F. The average high temperature for July is 94°F and the average high for December is 68°F. There are only four days of rain on average in Cairo and never any snow. This week the forecast calls for clear days and temperatures around 70°F. There is a 30 percent chance of precipitation on Thursday, however.
Wellington, New Zealand — South of the Equator in the area "down under" the days are about to grow shorter until the next equinox and things are cooling off a bit. But the weather in Wellington stays fairly consistent because the country is surrounded by the ocean. Average temperatures hit 62°F (in February) and 41°F in the month of July. This week, things are comfortable and mild with temperatures around 69°F.
Miami, Fla. — High temperatures are in the 70s this week in Miami and nightly lows range from the mid to upper 50s. The skies are are partly cloudy with a 30 percent and 20 percent chance of rain on Wednesday and Thursday. Average high temperatures for July and August will hit 89°F. March is pleasant with an average temperature at 71°F. The ocean is currently at about 75°F and can hit up to 86°F in July and August.
Mumbai, India — Whoo-ee! It is hot in Mumbai, India this week. The forecast calls for rising temperatures throughout the next five days and clear, sunny skies. Friday, the temperature is expected to hit 96°F. But that's the way things go in Mumbai; average maximum temperatures for March, April and May stay above 90°F and things only really "cool off" a little bit in December and January. The rainy season falls in June, July, August and September.
Photos: Viche/Flickr, stonemtnhiker/Flickr; tnserose/Flickr; 5348 Franco/Flickr; A Good Friend/Flickr; 'J'/Flickr; petezaria (back on the highway)/Flickr; roccotaco/Flickr; william_luo/Flickr; janetfo747/Flickr; Peter Kurdulija/Flickr; filli38/Flickr; U A Satish/Flickr
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