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Spring is official, and the weather just might take note

[Veronica Reiner / The Observer]

Spring is officially here, and with temperatures hitting highs of plus-10 in the last week, it’s starting to feel like it too. More of the good stuff is on the way, suggests a senior climatologist with Environment Canada, with a warmer spring in the forecast, even if it takes its time to get here in earnest.

“Now our models are looking like it’s going to be a warmer than normal spring,” said David Phillips. “From late March into April into May, we think it’s going to be milder than normal. But it doesn’t mean it’s a rush to spring. It’s going to be this yo-yo back and forth, rollercoaster kind of ride that always really typifies what spring is about.”

In just the last week alone, the weather has swung from snow flurries and deep chills to spring-like showers and double digit temperatures.

“We’ve seen rain, we’ve seen snow. I mean, hey, that is the buffet of weather types so often described that heralds in the spring. And what we’ve seen is what we’re going to continue to get,” he said this week.

The freeze-thaw cycles are a particular boon to the springtime maple harvest, with melting in the day and freezing at night being the ideal combo to get the sap running.

“And that is essentially what we’re going to see over the next little while,” said Phillips. “Perfect melting during the day, freezing at night. … This is really maple syrup weather right now.”

Those conditions are also a boon for those living close to the water and in floodplains. “It’s great maple syrup weather and it’s great flood control weather,” explained Phillips.

“Flood risk is not as great, and I think with this kind of maple syrup weather that we’ve got, we’ll ensure that we’ll be able to get out of the mud season and the flood season with not too much difficulty,” he predicted. “It’s really spring rains with the ground frozen that will trigger some standing water, fast-moving streams.”

Temperatures, meanwhile, are expected to continue their upward trend over the next two weeks, meaning warmer days are ahead this month, while snowfalls are expected to come in at just below average.

“But, I have to remind you, we can’t write the final chapter on snow quite yet,” cautioned Phillips. “In the Kitchener area typically after the last day of spring, we get on average about 18 centimetres of snow, about 10-11 per cent of your annual total. So don’t put away the snow shovel quite yet, although what nature giveth it also could taketh away at this time of the year.”

The coming weeks will see a tussle between the two seasons, as winter stubbornly gives way to spring. Though bouts of cold are still in the offing, a warmer, longer spring is likelier in store compared to last year, which seemed to lack a blooming season entirely.

“You can have three days of spring-like weather followed by a day of winter, and then you’re back into spring. That’s the kind of back-and-forth [predicted], and quite unlike what we saw last year,” he said.

“I think what most people remember about last year is ‘where was spring?’ It lasted several minutes, but not three months,” he added. “We went from almost winter to summer. April was one of the cruelest, with four times the amount of snow, freezing rain, cold. And we went into May and, my gosh, it was absolutely a beer drinking, muscle-shirt and tank top kind of weather.”

This year, by contrast, we can expect a much more noticeable approach to spring – even if it takes its time getting here.

“We’re not seeing a rush to spring. We’re seeing a typical kind of old-fashioned kind of spring: melting during the day, freezing at night,” Phillips said. “We’ve not had spring in two years, and now we’re going to get a spring. So my sense is enjoy it while it is.”

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