It’s (Astronomical) Spring!

March 20th, 2014 at 1:23 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Trobin in snow jack martin reportitoday (Thursday) is Vernal or Spring Equinox. The official start of spring is at 12:57 PM this afternoon. The word “equinox” means equal night. Today, we have approximately 12 hours of daylight over every point on the globe. The sun technically rose for the first time in 6 months at the North Pole and set at the S. Pole, ushering 6 months without sunshine there. The sun is directly overhead along the Equator at solar noon on the Equinoxes. In the Southern Hemisphere, it’s the start of autumn. At this time of year, we gain about 20 minutes of daylight each week.   Last year on 3/20, we had a high temperature of 26°.  On 3/20/12, we had a record high temperature of 83° in G.R.  March 1-19 has been 9.5° cooler than average in G.R.  Last year March was 4.1° cooler than average.  Here’s the Upper Midwest Winter Climate Trend.  This was the coldest winter ever for Ironwood and Marquette, Michigan and Oshkosh, Rhinelander, Eau Claire and Sturgion Bay, Wisconsin.   It was the 2nd coldest winter for Alpena and Houghton Lake, Michigan – Green Bay and Wausau, Wisconsin and Duluth and Internationial Falls, Minnesota.  It was the 3rd coldest winter for Chicago and Rockford, Illinois – Wheaton, Minnesota and Mason City, Iowa.  It was the 4th coldest winter for St. Cloud, Minnesota and Waterloo, Iowa and it was the 5th coldest winter ever for Flint.   Picture from Jack Martin at ReportIt.    Click here to see the picture full screen.

Updated season snowfall totals (as of midnight):  Grand Rapids 112.8″, Muskegon 129.9″, Lansing 68.2″.

Check out the webcam from Krupp’s Resort in Twin Lakes!   Uh-Oh – this could be trouble.  WOOD did the story last week on the loss of honey bees from the long, cold winter.  Other states reporting the same, unfortunately.  Up to 10″ of snow to close out winter in Minnesota.   This is cool – a comparison of low and high tide.    In the search area for Flight 370, which is approx. 1600 miles west-southwest of Perth, Australia the general currents are west to east and would push debris toward Australia.

125 Responses to “It’s (Astronomical) Spring!”

  1. Scott (robinson twsp) says:

    I’m really ready to open the windows and let some 60 deg air blow through!!! Good news is I can almost see my fire pit. :) still can’t get to the grill on the deck yet. Buried it shoving off the roof.

    1. Jack says:

      I Second That !!!! ;-)

    2. yooper4021 says:


  2. TomKap (Michigan St. & Fuller) Grand Rapids says:

    HI NED!!! I wasn’t first, but here I am again!! ;)


    Goodbye, Rotten Winter!

    1. Wswplz says:

      So now we can begin to count down the days until it actually feels like spring, as for now it’s just a pseudonym for winter. :)

      1. GunLakeDeb says:

        Sadly, you’re right…..

    2. Ned S. (East of Holland) says:

      You didn’t miss it by much. Better luck next time. :-)

  3. Jacob G. says:

    Oh boy another possible high latitude volcano to promote more blocking at the higher latitudes…with continued warm pool off of Alaska, weak El Nino coming and more blocking in Atlantic, look out below for next winter….Welcome to Spring btw, can’t wait for that first nice round of spring storms to roll through during the night.

    1. Wswplz says:

      That makes two of us, as there aren’t many things I enjoy more than watching a storm move in at night. I think we May be a little delayed on that front this spring, no pun intended there….I couldn’t resist sorry.

      1. Jacob G. says:

        We have a newborn daughter and it is going to be fun staying up with her during the storms. Who knows she might just sleep through them, if so than maybe I wake her up and not tell mom. ;^)

        1. Wswplz says:

          Congrats, that is awesome, what mom doesn’t know ….., can’t let her miss the storms, have to have a partner in crime. hehe

        2. Jacob G says:

          Thanks and what a winter she was born into! By the time she is old enough the stories of the 13-14 winter will have probably morphed into Little House on the Prairie where the snow was up to the second level windows, lol!

        3. DF (SE Mich) says:

          Congrats! I have a pic of mine and me in front of the TV screen for her first tornado warning years ago :)

        4. Larry of Hastings, barry co says:

          Congrats to you and your wife. My mother said when I was a baby my father would get up during the storms, and hold me. My father was from Iowa where they had big tornadoes. I was 5 years old when I started showing interest in the weather, Palm Sunday 1965, deadly outbreak. Maybe your daughter will love the weather like we all .

        5. GunLakeDeb says:

          Congrats on your new daughter!! I remember sitting with my Dad on the front porch, smelling the ozone in the air during a thunderstorm – I might have been 4 or 5? He started my love of the outdoors; I’m sure you’ll do the same for your children, too!

  4. Mark (East Lansing) says:

    Uh-oh is right. Hekla = BOOM.

  5. Dan (Byron Center) says:

    First day of spring. It’s 34 degrees and I was greeted by about 1/4 inch of snow as I walked out the door this morning. More light snow chances in the forecast. Cold seems to want to stay around. On another note, they may have found a piece of the missing 777 from Malaysia. Piece of the tail possibly found in the Southern Indian Ocean close to Australia.

  6. Dan (Byron Center) says:

    Check that supposedly pieces of missing jet about 1600 miles from Australia. That is not close.

    1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      I hope it’s truly it this time.

    2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      Wait, AUSTRALIA? Who was flying that thing? Wrong Way Feldman?

      1. yooper4021 says:

        Cue the Gilligan’s Island theme song! What happened to quality shows like that?

        1. Craig (Holland North Sider) says:

          So true!

  7. Ive got 33 degrees here this morning. Got a light dusting on the grass and on the deck since surface temperatures are just a tad cooler than 33. That dusting of snow will be melted by late this morning or early afternoon

  8. jake says:

    Pshhh we don’t get spring until mid April

    1. Jeff (Richland) says:

      According to Acculess, we may not see a spring at all.

      1. jake says:

        Yeah I saw their most recent forecast. Yesterday they had 3 days in a row with temps in the 70s and now the warmest reading they have us 62 on may 2nd. What a joke

        1. Lisa (Caledonia) says:

          Any highly-specific forecast a month out is a joke. ;)

  9. INDY says:

    Happy Spring as winter is not over yet!! One day closer to May!! SPRITE IT!! INDYY!

  10. Travis (Oakland County) says:

    It’s spring! Opening Day is almost here.

    NWS Detroit all but canceling any big accumulating snow for this weekend. A couple days ago they were talking up to 5″. Now, they have adjusted temps upward and said primarily more rain.

    “Need-less-to-say, a mostly rain event is now expected, as good surge of low level warm air arrives at or just after 00z Saturday.”

    1. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

      But after Saturday it will get very cold again (for late March) and as for opening day. How is the grass doing down at the ball park?

      1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

        No kidding. We’ll be lucky to break freezing for the four days following Saturday.

  11. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    I woke up looked outside and the first “official” day of spring 2014 looks just like the first “official” day of winter 2013. Way back on that December day GR had a high of 34 and a low of 31° and right now here at my house I have a temp of 32° and yes both days GR had snow cover. Now I am not sure if the airport “loss” all of the snow on the ground or not but did report no snow on the ground for March 19th
    Any way happy first day of spring. Now we just have to wait for the spring like temps to arrive! And that may take us well into April.

    1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

      My 47 degrees and 46 degrees the last two days were very nice.

      As to your question, the new sod for Comerica Park is coming in today. It was good timing to replace the grass this year!

  12. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Some fun stats on Ann Arbor’s snowiest winter ever just in time for spring.

  13. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    This from the NWS office in Gaylord says it all for the first week of spring 2014


    1. DF (SE Mich) says:

      Right on. The same relative temps are forecasted down here. We’re looking at -20° departures from average again just as we celebrate only average temperatures.

    2. DF (SE Mich) says:

      Good info on the cold coming up from Detroit NWS weather story, with some nice stats for Detroit and Flint so far this March.

      1. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

        I see Flint is now only -9° for March and Detroit is now only -9.2 for March. But GR is still hanging in at a -10.1° How is the lawn looking in your yard? Here where the ground is showing the grass is very brown and matted to the ground and it will take a lot of warm rain to green it up.

        1. DF (SE Mich) says:

          Front lawn is still completely cover, back is about 40% covered now. Where snow is left it is pretty deep.

  14. Larry of Hastings, barry co says:

    Happy first day of Spring.

  15. kevin. w says:

    2012 we’ve had relentless heat starting in March that went all the way til November and even the winter was mild/dry. We’ve had relentless cold/snow since the first of October that may go into April. You can definitely see the warming waters in the southwestern pacific which means the possibility of an el nino (remember I said possibility) which we could go into a whole new pattern starting in the summer and go through the following winter. We haven’t had an el nino in quite sometime but from what I’ve been hearing/reading is that they come on strong. The SOI values have been steadily going negative and may/will trend that way for awhile. I hope we do go into an el nino and that effects the west with lots of moisture and cooler weather and gives the east a break for the next year. Happy spring.

  16. Josh From Zeeland says:


    1. Jeff (Richland) says:

      You must be friends with Rocky and INDY. Get real.

      1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

        Which one of them gave birth overnight? Rocky or Indy? This is the baby. :)

        1. Wswplz says:

          Joshh = Indy =Josh = Aka : (Many more )but who really knows; who really knew; who knows?

        2. GunLakeDeb says:

          That’s Indy’s baby

    2. suehelen says:


    3. DF (SE Mich) says:


  17. Jeff (Richland) says:

    I know Acculess is not to be trusted, especially in the long run, but for quite a while now, they had been forecasting 60′s and even 70′s here during the last 1-2 weeks of April. Log on today, that is gone, replaced by 50′s, and 50′s straight into the first few days of May. In fact with the exception of a couple days, they do not have any forecasted highs in the long range above the 50′s. I swear, this below average temperature pattern we have been locked into will never change.

    1. suehelen says:

      I’ve been checking Accuweather daily. I don’t remember seeing any 60s or 70s. I’ve seen nothing but 40s, 50s and a couple of 60s here and there.

    2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      I’m beginning to wonder that myself. Did Earth’s axis tilt or something?

      1. Jeff (Richland) says:

        I can’t recall ever seeing a pattern (of above or below average temps) be locked in for so long. It’s just crazy to me that this pattern won’t break. I have a lot of projects/things I need to do outside, that I had planned to do in April, at this point not sure how much of anything I will be able to get done. :(

      2. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

        I’ve been wondering that too.

    3. Mike (Mattawan) says:

      That is definitely what its starting to feel like. I really hope we get out of this temperature trap we are in,
      and soon! I want to see some 60s and even 70s here! C’mon spring, Michigan’s calling!

  18. yooper4021 says:

    March Madness is here!!! Yahoo! Best long weekend of sports on the calendar, IMHO.

    1. DF (SE Mich) says:

      GO Green!!!!!!!!!!! and Big Ten!

      1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

        Yeah baby!

      2. yooper4021 says:

        Don’t forget about the MAC – go Broncos!

        1. DF (SE Mich) says:

          That’s a given… anyone who cheers against the MAC in the tourny has no heart :)

        2. yooper4021 says:

          Truth be told, I only picked WMU on one of my many brackets….but will be cheering for my alma mater to knock Syracuse out.

        3. Wswplz says:

          Our President picked MSU to go all the way, what connotation that invokes I don’t know?

        4. Mark (East Lansing) says:

          He’s been right a couple of times, so let’s hope he’s right again.

        5. Jack says:

          Hmmm, Can’t Resist…..” If You are Happy with Your “Bracket- CARE”…. You Can Keep IT!!! “”" LIAR. Mr. president….. ;-) .

    2. Craig (Holland North Sider) says:

      Totally agree yooper! IMHO, the next three weekends are fantastic and since I am a big fan of golf the Masters is the weekend after the Final Four. This year I will be enjoying it from Texas, had to find somewhere to go warmer than here.

  19. kevin. w says:

    Anyone see the whatever climate outlook is worth for the summer/fall/winter. Its shows cooler summer but a warmer fall and winter. Here’s hoping for a strong el nino next winter.

    1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

      The CPC is almost always predicting a warmer than normal Fall. It makes sense, since many falls have been warmer during this century…but my guess is they don’t really base it off of any current pattern, but rather the climatology of the past decade.

    2. Jeff (Richland) says:

      Not even a cooler summer, show’s average temps, which I’m totally good with. Would love a warm winter/spring next year. That would be fantastic, just not too warm, don’t need another farming disaster like 2012.

      1. kevin. w says:

        Ya I agree but I bet we have a big uptick in severe weather this year.

        1. Jeff (Richland) says:

          I’m good with that. Would love some good thunder boomers.

      2. Craig (Holland North Sider) says:

        Couldn’t agree more Jeff.

    3. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

      I would not put to much into the CPC’s long range guess. BTW that is just a “outlook” and not a forecast. And just like any outlook a lot can and will change over the course of time.

      1. kevin. w says:

        So whats next weeks forecast and that changes daily as well, but ya just an outlook.

        1. Jeff (Richland) says:

          Just like a few days ago they were talking about a decent snow Fri night/Sat and now they are saying next to nothing for snow. Things can change quickly.

    4. DF (SE Mich) says:

      Off topic a bit but this is an awesome program on the hurricane hunters flying into Hurricane Hugo, and near disaster. Very cool, I had no idea this happened.

      1. DF (SE Mich) says:

        Whoops, didn’t mean to make this a reply.

      2. Craig (Holland North Sider) says:

        I went with a group to help clean up from Hurricane Hugo. It was the most incredible thing I have ever seen. The most impressive site I remember was an entire roof, still mostly intact was sitting upside down on top of a huge tree. We were there about 3 months after it happened and it looked like it had happened the day before. Something I will always remember.

  20. INDY says:

    Who would of thought another below normal day at theee home of Bills blog Grand rapids Michigan! SPRITE IT UP!! INDYY!!

    1. Jeff (Richland) says:

      Yup, tis the story of 2014.

  21. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Some light snow falling now in A2 on this first day of spring ;)

    1. Jeff (Richland) says:

      Sun’s coming out here.

      1. DF (SE Mich) says:

        Send it over instead of this lake effect snow…

    2. yooper4021 says:

      I opened the garage door this morning only to see a light coating of snow…and there was a loud groan from both of my kids. Even they are tired of it!

  22. Bluegill says:

    Fresh 3″ in NE Grand Traverse County this morning and supposed to get the same tomorrow evening. Nothing like firing up the snowblower for the first day of Spring…and second…

  23. yooper4021 says:

    This one’s for you, Mark (East Lansing)….I’m sure you’ll be thrilled.

    0756 AM EDT THU MAR 20 2014



    1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      Hurray? LOL

  24. Brian(Grandville) says:

    Forget the first day of spring. it’s tournament time! Not to mention it looks and feels nothing like spring. It is nice to have some sunshine though.

  25. Imthemom (just n holland) says:

    My crocuses (?sp) are finally poking leaves up where the snow bank is receding from the east edge of the house, but the horses still aren’t starting to shed out yet.

  26. steven (Derby Lake) says:

    Snow and cold forecasted last week. Just went outside, yup. Snow and cold. And you people thought we were all crazy.

  27. Tom says:

    OK, I am confused. On St Patrick’s Day the sun rose at 7:51am and set at 7:51 pm so that would be the day where we had equal hours of daylight and darkness. Sunrise was at 7:45 am today and sets at 7:54 pm so we now have more daylight, the equinox should have been a couple of days ago for those of us in Michigan and how fitting it came on St Patrick’s Day too!

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      A couple reasons for that. First, we don’t measure sunrise and sunset from the middle of the sun…sunrise is when the first tip of the sun appears and sunset is when the last tip of the sun disappears. Second, light bends a little as it comes into the atmosphere. The result is that we get a couple extra minutes of sunlight. Sunrise and sunset are also calculated for a totally flat horizon (like a calm Lake Michigan view looking west). Most people would perceive sunset to be a couple minutes before the times given.

  28. INDY says:

    JUST IN>>>> Bill will like this 17 more days of below normal temps for Grand rapids Michigan coming up!! Spring has sprung!! DRINK UP!! INDYY!!

  29. kilbryf says:

    Question for Bill——-
    On your Almanac page- you can select the area (GR, Muskegon) and then see the total snowfall to the left. Is there a reason why Holland and Battle Creek doesn’t show a season total?

    Thank you-

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      Holland and Battle Creek don’t in general keep snowfall records. The National Weather Service keeps records for Muskegon, Grand Rapids and Lansing. There are some other private people who keep track of snowfall. Some occasionally post on the blog. You can find some more under the NOW Data tab here: Here at WOOD we subscribe to Accu-Weather Premium, where they have a (pretty good) estimated total for Holland from Regional Airport. That updates less frequently than the NWS locations.

  30. Wswplz says:

    It looks we doge any accumulating snow over the short term, but the cold has been all to familiar and is like that of an in law who has gone much past there invited stay. It’s time for the cold to depart and yield to spring weather to shine through.



    1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

      The 12Z run of the GFS looks quite snowy for the next 2 ways. I guess we’ll see what happens…wish it maintained more consistency.

      1. Wswplz says:

        Matt are you referring to our north, I assume you mean next 2 days.

        1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

          oops..meant next 2 weeks

        2. Wswplz says:

          Yes, that makes more sense…lol

    2. suehelen says:

      I can deal for a bit longer (well a lot longer if I have to- what am I going to do about it??) if we don’t get a bunch of snow. I like the slow melt and the no snow thing we have going on right now.

  31. on the Grand says:

    What a night makes. The river in front of us is now open and running.There is still ice but the shore line is ice free and the middle is open. I can see open water both up and down the river. The large solid chunks of ice are not moving, just floating and melting. The weather for next week looks very good for a slow melt. The water level went down four inches. Not sure why, maybe because the water is now flowing out towards the lake. Grand Haven and Spring Lake do not expect serious flooding as long as there is no ice jam at the bridge. They do say that there may be flooding in low lying area. That is because the water will spread out into the marshes and bayous and creeks. I am feeling good. Got a couple swans swimming around.

    1. Wswplz says:

      When I drove down to the Ball Park area on River ( Rd ..?) there is already minor flooding that I observed where the ice was backing up quite a near Jupiter Rd / Bridge. The water was just starting to creep over the road, as people had parked their vehicles up the rd on higher ground as a precaution. I might add that it’s no where near that of last year, but bank full in some areas and just spilling over into yards etc,

  32. on the Grand says:

    Last year the river was wild and flowing hard. It was choppy and it had large waves on it. It picked up a lot of junk and carried it towards the lake. I am sure some of that junk caused some water to back up behind it. This year, instead of having smaller thinner chunky ice that can piled up on each other. We have larger solid thick ice that seems to just float in place and melt. The river is also very calm.

  33. INDY says:

    More snow Tuesday!! Stay Tuned!! INDYY!

    1. suehelen says:

      Wait a second. I thought we were supposed to get a bunch this Saturday? What happened to that?

      1. INDY says:

        Don’t remember!! Sorry!!! INDYY!!

        1. Paul m says:

          4 to 8 inches if I remember correctly!

        2. yooper4021 says:

          Uh huh… just like the snow is all gone by the 3rd week of March

        3. Paul m says:

          Two week ago Yooper I said I was wrong on my saying all snow would be gone!
          Take a man to admit he wrong and I don’t see other people make prediction of 4-8 inches of snow
          And admit the where wrong!

      2. Cort S. says:

        Earlier runs of the Euro model were too far south, which put West Michigan in the sweet spot for a heavy band of snow north of the storm. Now it looks like the center of the Low will go right over West Michigan, with less precipitation and warmer temperatures.

  34. on the Grand says:

    Wswplz, I saw your post about boating. As you know I am on the Grand. It is a great place to go boating. There is Spring Lake. You can cruise or sail there and swim the water is great. Lots of boating activity on the weekends. We tend to stay away on weekends. Weekdays are good. The Grand River is like the Highway to the big lake. There is a display of all types of boats and lots of fishermen. My kids will ski on it, Much to my dismay. Lloyds Bayou is small but depending on the water level the channel can be tricky to get into it. We go to Pottawattamie Bayou. It is private, not so busy and has a wonderful beach with picnic area you can also get there by car. Stern Bayou is great for for fishing, but it is hard to get under the bridge and is very weedy. Then there is the quarry. That is fun and great water sking. You can camp overnight on the shore line not sure if it allowed but they do it.The river has lots and lots of hidden creeks and passage ways for exploring. Now back at the 31 bridge you can go out into the channel and dock at the wall and tour downtown Grand Haven or you can go out into Lake Michigan and drop anchor at the beach and swim in. Now you can go in one direction to Muskegon and up to Mona Lake. The channel there is small and tricky but the beach on the lake is wonderful and the park is private. Then Mona Lake is nice for cruising. In the other direction you can go down to Rosie Mound another great area or continue down to Holland. On the Lake there can be big waves but just pick a nice day and stick close to the shore line.Everywhere along the river are boat ramps to put your boat in. Some are free and some charge $5. fee.

    1. Larry of Hastings, barry co says:

      Thornapple River that flows into the Grand River is also a wonderful river to checkout. I live about 3 blocks from the river.

    1. SW Kent says:

      It does not end? Incredible forecasting Rocky!


  35. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Whoever said the snow would be all gone by the third week of March was 100% wrong, still have snow in my yard and a lot of it too, I wish it was all gone though lol!

  36. Paul m says:

    It was me and I admit I was wrong and will buck up for my mistake!

    1. John (Norton Shores) says:

      I wish you would have been right though lol, I’m ready for some warmer weather to stick around!

  37. Paul m says:

    It coming soon!

  38. Well people, I guess things could be worse……right? we could have a high of 7 on Sunday instead of 27. 27 will definitely be cold, but it could be way worse. At best it looks like mid 40′s once we get past this cold snap for the period of March 27-March 29. We will forsure see days up into the 60′s in April, so there are no worries there. I sent an email to Bill and he said to me that during the brutal winter of 1978, we had our warmest stretch of weather for the whole summer the last week of May. Don’t loose hope people, its coming! its just a matter of when it wants to get warmer. Give it another month I would say, and we will see improvement.

    1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

      It’s coming…and then will be gone in June. :P

  39. on the Grand says:

    I feel we have turned the corner. Temps in the twenties are not all that bad, rather used to it. Still have snow but it is slowly going and more green appears daily. Tomorrow I am saying good bye to the snowblower and putting it away in the deep dark back of the shed, never to be seen again.

  40. Todd In Nunica says:

    Sure its still cold but the snow (ok “plowable” snow) has all but shut off, only 2 plows in March so far, and only 3 plows in the last month.

    to be honest this sunny stretch seems way weird to me, spring here should be cloudy most days, seems its beautiful most days.

    We will be tapping trees starting Monday (its running now but we like the later season stuff better anyway)

    Took the mower deck off my mower today, getting that to the welding shop for some band-aids (14 years of mowing this beach sand has worn holes in 1/4″ steel)

  41. Judy (Fennville) says:

    The robin is not a good sign of spring since they do overwinter here (stick to protected areas). A better sign is the kildeer (since they run around on the ground, and don’t like snow) or the red-winged blackbird. I saw a kildeer two days ago north of Fennville, but haven’t seen a red-winged blackbird yet.

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