Spring equinox today but winter lingers

Spring daffodils Even the daffodils are missing

At 11.02 GMT on Wednesday, the Sun crossed the Equator.

And, for the next six months, the days will be longer than the nights. Spring has sprung - and we can finally banish the winter blues.

Well, that's the theory.

In practice, however, the nation continues to shiver beneath several layers of clothing, very little is growing in the ground and our weather forecasts continue to warn of ice, snow and severe wind-chill.

The statistics are even more sobering. So far, March 2013 has been colder than both this winter's December and January.

The average temperature (day and night combined) for the UK this March to date is currently around 3C. It should normally be nearer 6C.

The chill really set in during February, and winter has dragged on ever since.

Start Quote

The coldest March on record was in 1962, when the mean temperature staggered to just 1.9C - that record will not be broken this year”

End Quote John Hammond BBC Weather

The reason has been the persistence of easterly winds from a frozen Continent - winds which have chilled the North Sea to just 4C or 5C. Hardly surprising, then, that eastern parts of the UK have suffered the most.

Moaning about the Great British weather is a national sport. But, when such conditions impact on our livelihood, the effects are particularly serious.

And there has been much to complain about.

In recent days many parts of the UK have been hit by cold weather more akin to winter.

On Tuesday, more than 100 schools were closed after heavy snow affected parts of Scotland, with whiteout conditions in some areas making driving difficult.

Inverness Airport's runway was closed at one point.

Meanwhile, Met Office amber alerts, warnings of snowfalls and gale force winds, were issued.

And, even in the hours leading up to the equinox, more light snow has been settling in north-east England and eastern Scotland, adding to large amounts of up to 10cm which hit the regions on Tuesday.

Wet year

Forecasters said higher ground would see up to another 5cm, while lower areas could see around 2cm - along with parts of Northern Ireland and Wales.

Meanwhile, the Midlands and Lincolnshire were warned they should also prepare for the risk of light snow on Wednesday.

Chilling temperatures of about just 1C are expected to keep its hold on the north of England and rise just a few degrees in the Midlands.

The conditions present us with what seems to be a paradox, on the first day of spring - the Met Office warning members of the public to take care in potentially icy conditions because of the low temperatures.

And this is far from the end of the cold weather.

A renewed surge of bitter easterly winds will sweep across the country over the next few days, with the very real prospect of further disruptive snowfall in some areas.

Friday is likely to see a return of heavier snow storms in parts of the country, such as the Midlands.

Brighton Beach, March 24, 2012 March 2012 saw highs of 21C

For most of us, the conditions are just a minor inconvenience.

But, for others, the adverse conditions that have blighted much of the country for months are far more than that.

Farmers are perhaps suffering most from the cold.

After such a wet year, the ongoing lack of either warm or dry weather means that many fields remain waterlogged and unworkable.

Of course, what makes this March even harder to tolerate is that fact that last March was so warm - the warmest for several decades - reaching the low 20s widely during the latter part of the month. It was all thanks to a large dome of persistent high pressure, clear blue skies and strong sunshine.

So, historically, how does this miserable March rate?

Well, the coldest March on record was in 1962, when the mean temperature staggered to just 1.9C. That record will not be broken this year, but the more recent cold March of 1987 looks under threat - its mean temperature was 3.3C.

Looking ahead, my charts look bleak.

With the easterlies persisting through much of next week too, the cold could well hang on until the bitter end of March.

One ray of sunshine to end on though.

As the Sun gets ever stronger, it is only a matter of time before the warmth wins out. And, when spring does arrive, it will feel all the more welcome.



This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 151.

    Odd isn't it? The alarmists bang on about a few warm days as though it is the end of the world but months of cold, not a mention. More people die from cold than warm weather, but then alarmists don't care about people just their ignorant CAGW nonsense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 150.

    One thing is for sure, as more demand from less and we turn this planet into a waste ground, expect some fireworks ...

  • rate this

    Comment number 149.

    Is this weather associated with climate changed, possibly. Is climate change man made, well not for the last few million years and not convinced it is now. Scientists are at the infantile stages in there understanding of climate and so the jury is still out. But of course man made climate change is the new religion and any none believers will be ridiculed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 148.

    So its a cold march it happens, weather happens its nature! why do people expect every thing to run in a set order? its nature and nature does not run in a set order! I am sure people think ok sun at 6am dark at 8pm to the dot! this is nature lol. We have got so used to being programmed just like Androids when the real world is not like that! Deal with it put a jumper on and drink Horlicks end of.

  • rate this

    Comment number 147.

    #144: No doubt this is also climate change but another explanation is required now.

    "Climate change" is the key phrase. It's changing, not just warming. In some models the UK will go into an ice age if the general world temperature increases. It's an odd thought, but a couple of extra degrees on the world average could lead to massively different tempatures in some places. Climate is chaotic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 146.

    Why don't the right wing believe in climate change,because this part of the world is a bit nippy?What about swathes of Australia baking recently.I know it looks small but it's the size of the U.S.you know! I realise that's weather,do those on the right? Is the reason they don't believe that they are nasty,selfish and uncaring about the world? Education will win.Their ignorance will die with them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 145.

    Last year we didn't get bothered by the wasps 'cause of the wet weather.(At least no one got stung). However they do a great job in pollenating. Will there be any this year? (lincolnshire). Now there are no signs of bees or insects, usually the Ladybirds are out and mating by now! Frogs are nowhere to be seen. Our blackbirds that are on their first nest have no where to go. What's going to happen?

  • rate this

    Comment number 144.

    This is the fourth cold winter in a row and it has lasted five months so far with no end in sight.

    Could all those clever people who know about the climate kindly provide an explanation? I recall when the weather was warmer they came up with the argument of climate change. No doubt this is also climate change but another explanation is required now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 143.

    Perhaps we are reaping the Harvest for not doing more on sustainable energy 20 years ago or maybe the closure of our pits to destroy a union by Thatcher.

  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    Without warmer temperatures the plants are not flowering, and my bees will find no pollen or nectar to collect. Without a nectar flow, the queens will not start laying eggs and the colonies will simply collapse and die due to old age.

    Without bees we are going to be knee deep in it. I know many farmers who are not having a good time of it, especially here in Cumbria, but think about the bees...

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    Its that unseasonal week of warm weather we get followed by the return to 'normal' weather that makes us feel the cold. If the climate would only warm up gradually into summer and cool down gradually into winter we would be less upset by the lateness of Spring. The British weather has been known for its unpredictability which makes it a good topic for small talk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    All internationally recognised scientific bodies accept climate change as fact. Only the following people deny it:

    1/ Dave (the barman at The Dog and Duck in Uxbridge)
    2/ Conspiracy theorists
    3/ People with a vested interest in nuclear or fossil fuels
    4/ UKIP
    5/ A cat called Ian
    6/ David Bellamy

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    Lets be honest, as usual Britain has got the dirty end of the stick with the weather. "Global Warming" has only given us wet Springs, Summers, Autumns and Winters. We are as ill prepared as usual and after decades of sitting on our hands about decisions we should have made decades ago, we will be huddling in the dark when rolling blackouts start in 3 yrs time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    136 SeeDubya - Why on Earth would you use a quadratic trendline to describe something that follows a linear relationship? It'd also be useless for predicting future temperatures as the peak (or trough) of the line would indicate that was the highest (or lowest) temperature there would ever be.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Is it just me or has the quality/duration of the weather forecasts on BBC news diminished since the much vaunted move to to the new BBC news centre?

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    134. Drunken Hobo
    cherrypicked data in order to suit your own bias, as is done in "The Escalator":

    If I was plotting the data shown in the link (1970-2012) then it would be fairly obvious to me that a linear trendline would not be the appropriate fit to the data. Fit a quadratic trendline and I expect it would now predict a fall in temperature.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    I'm enjoying seeing my daffodils in the morning and blossom in the hedgerows. (I think it's a bit better here in the West of the country). I really don't want summer time in winter. I'd never see morning light - which is the most important to protect against SAD.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    131 SeeDubya - I can only presume you've plotted the graphs wrong then, or have cherrypicked data in order to suit your own bias, as is done in "The Escalator":

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    122. SeeDubya: "You do understand the concept of trendlines don't you? Use 20 years or 17, it's not going up either way."

    The trendlines are going up in both cases! You are engaging in something called climate denial. The trendlines go up, but you brazenly claim they go down! Amazing.

    All temperature records, satellites, land stations and ocean records the 17 and 20 year trend-lines are up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    The Groundhog has spoken


Page 1 of 8


More UK stories



BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.