As much as we may be tempted to rely on the forecast of a groundhog to determine spring’s arrival, there are many more reliable signs to look out for this year. From the budding of certain flowers and trees to birdsong and the buzzing of bees, here are some tell-tale markers that spring is upon us.
10 Signs of Spring
Though spring officially begins on March 20, or the spring equinox, this article more closely follows what is referred to as "meteorological spring.” This is the time period when most American cities experience the most springlike weather, and it roughly takes place during March, April, and May, though some signs can occur even earlier.
The early signs of spring divide cleanly into a few categories. While all these signs are weather-dependent, we will first examine spring flora, or plant life changes, and then fauna, which are animal markers of spring, before we finally look at changes in weather patterns. Of course, regional differences may alter these signs, but the following are 10 facets of the changing season that remain largely the same.
Early Spring Flowers
The first wildflowers sprouting are a beautiful and classic signal of the winter winding down. The aptly named snowdrops, as well as crocuses and daffodils, are among the earliest bloomers in spring. The simple, welcoming whites and yellows of these flowers poking through late snow patches can thaw even the chilliest of weather cynics.
How exciting is it to see the first few flowering buds on your favorite tree? From the sweet smell of lilac to the gorgeous bloom of cherry trees and magnolias, there are few things more lovely than a tree in spring. Whether they are fruit-bearing or not, a patch of flowering trees lends to the bright optimism of the season.
Not only are budding deciduous trees a sure sign of spring, some of them even bring us something delicious to eat. Sugar-sap season and subsequent maple tapping usually occur sometime in mid-February to March. The sweet yield of this yearly tradition is a great reason to excitedly await spring's arrival. If you don’t like the sweet stuff yourself, keep an eye out for squirrels poking around for seeping sap.
All the Birds
Though the arrival of birds varies from year to year, and different species trickle in at different times, one of the truly springlike feelings occurs when you go outside and think, Listen to all those birds! Robins, red-winged blackbirds, and chickadees are all early to the party, while bluebirds prefer not to show up until winter is surely gone. Beyond what you hear, you may notice signs of nest building in early spring as different birds get ready to welcome little ones. How sweet is it to see the first ducklings and goslings paddling around your local pond?
With the blooms of spring come their insect pollinators. Queen bumblebees are some of the first insects to emerge in early spring as they decide where to set up shop for their colony. Some butterflies, like monarchs, also begin to make their way north to benefit from the peak spring and early summer seasons. The warmer and wetter spring weather soon brings a host of other insects that cannot survive winter.
Joining in the chorus of birdsong, another vocal spring creature is the frog. Frogs lay their eggs in the shallows of lakes and ponds that have been cleared of ice. They can be heard croaking loud and clear on some of those especially dreary and gray spring days. Fish also spring to life after the winter ice has melted.
After their winter mating season, early spring is a great time to see deer emerge to find a more plentiful array of food. If you are lucky, you may even get to see the first awkward steps of a fawn. A host of other mammals emerge or appear more frequently in the spring, so keep an eye out for squirrels, skunks, and even bears looking for a fresh meal.
Severe Weather Development
There's truth in the old saying, "April showers bring May flowers," as spring storms do tend to be very severe. According to meteorologist Matthew Cappucci, the warmer air that accompanies spring creates instability against the cold air still found at higher elevations, which allows for the development of thunderstorms. These storms can quickly become severe, and bring with them heavy rainfall, dangerous wind gusts, large hail, and even tornadoes!
The unstable mix of conditions brought about by the transition to spring lead to the potential for disaster. Depending on your region, the likelihood of flooding is often very high in spring. Beyond more frequent rain, post-winter ground conditions paired with high rivers (due to snowmelt and rain) can contribute to flooding and even landslides. Additionally, springtime brings higher winds, and although tornado season usually does not ramp up until late spring, the conditions that create strong thunderstorms can initiate tornadoes in certain regions.
Sunnier Days Ahead
Spring is the season of optimism for a reason! The days get longer, the temperatures begin to rise, and the sun shows itself more. Depending on where you live, you could experience an increase of between three to four hours of daylight over the course of spring. And that is on top of a potential average temperature increase of 20 or more degrees Fahrenheit. No wonder we come out of hiding too!
Are You Ready for Spring?
Spring is an exciting time, filled with changes: not only does the weather change, but the plants, animals, and even the environment respond to the warmer, wetter conditions. Spring is a great time to track the weather using an AcuRite personal weather station. Paired with a weather journal, it’s an effective way to stay updated on spring thunderstorm development that can quickly become dangerous in small, localized areas. Engaging with your local weather patterns will help you tune in to all the marvelous signs that spring is here to stay!
March 8, 2022
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