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Don’t put away the hat and gloves just yet

Spring officially arrives at precisely 7:21 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday). But after a quick glance out the window, you could be forgiven if you thought it had already sprung.

With unseasonably warm temperatures all week – peaking at 11 degrees on Thursday and Friday – not much remains of winter on the ground, and certainly more than a few of us have already packed away the toque and gloves for yet another year.

According to Environment Canada meteorologist Dave Phillips, however, winter may not give up without a fight.

“I would never write the obituary too early on winter – winter can certainly return,” he said. “We’ve had more April’s with snow than without, we’ve even had snow in May, so I think if you define winter as the appearance of snow, well, it’s not finished.”

March and April are notorious for irregular weather, and we’ve certainly seen it this past week with snow, slush, rain, and sun all hitting the roads in the past seven days. Despite the fact that up to 10 per cent of the annual snowfall comes after the first day of spring, Phillips said, the worst is most certainly behind us.

“Snow in April one day can be gone the next, so you’re not having to shovel it and plow it,” he said. “It’s a psychological setback, but it’s not physiologically damaging.

“It’s just a bit of a reality call that this is the season when winter still tries to get a foothold and tries to duke it out with spring-like conditions.”

From now until Mar. 30, the long-term trends suggest temperatures will be at, or above, the daytime seasonal average for this time of year, which is around 3 or 4 degrees Phillips said. Likewise, the nighttime temperatures are also predicted to be above average from now until the end of the month, with the average temperature sitting around the minus-4 degree range.

However, long-range predictions are always a little dicey this time of year, and Phillips cautioned that icy conditions, including black ice on roads, are always a factor.

And what’s in store for the 47th annual Elmira Maple Syrup Festival, slated for Apr. 2? Well, Phillips said it was still a little too early to accurately predict, and he hesitated to suggest whether we could expect rain, snow or sun on the day.

“The warmest day ever on Apr. 2 was 1994 when the temperature got up to 16.9 (degrees), the coldest ever was 1978 when it was minus-6.5 (degrees),” he said. “You’ve had as much as six centimetres of snow on that day in 1985, and you’ve had as much rain as 18 mm in 1977, which gives you an idea of some of the extremes.”

In terms of the longer-range forecast into the early summer, Phillips said that the outlook was promising for nice weather. May and June are showing warmer than normal temperatures, he said, with precipitation near normal as well.

As always, of course, his predictions come with one proviso; “We’re not always right and we do change our mind – it’s not always a guarantee.”

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