THE MONTH OF MARCH. It's clearly one of the wildest months of the year. After most of us have been through the bitter cold of winter, by mid to late February there are usually seeing signs of hope as the days get longer and we get a few glimpses of better weather, fleeting as they might be. And then along comes March and it doesn't really matter where you live, many things strange take place. Even here in Florida it can be quite cold and then it quickly changes and the likelihood of brutal thunderstorms and even a few twisters sometimes come out of nowhere.
Now the old saying, "March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb," is sometimes very true. It is, however, often false as well so March is a month when we have to pay particularly close to the weather for it can change in a flash. I've seen a few years when it came in like summer and went out more like winter. Probably one of the most dramatic example of how brutal March can be was witnessed by me as a teenager back in Newport News when the Great Ash Wednesday Storm of 1962 swept the East Coast of the United States from Cape Hatteras to Cape Cod. As part of my March blogs, I will write a story particularly about that storm since it was dubbed as one of the ten greatest storms on the Eastern Seaboard by many meteorologists. For now, I'll just leave it by saying it was massive, costly and deadly, both on the coast and inland as the rain became a blizzard accompanied by excessive and long lasting winds.
Tornadoes are another major possibility in March, the worst of the threat covers the broad area between to central plains throughout the South, including the southeastern portion of the country and even the Deep South into central Florida. March of 1990 is a great example of what can happen when too much warm humid air makes it far enough north before running into the jet stream. In Oklahoma, nearly sixty tornadoes were spawned with tragic results. Again, cold air and moist, warm air colliding spells trouble if it takes place near you.
One season in March, the snow brought in from the Pacific was so heavy in the Sierras that over two hundred and fifteen inches of snow pack was on the ground and ski resorts were warning not to ski in the area of electric lines as those lines were under the snow. Does that sound impossible? Well, it might, but in March nearly anything goes. Ask the hikers on the Appalachian Trail when a huge and unexpected blizzard formed from a coastal nor'easter and they never got the word until it was too late. Many were stranded for days with little if any food.
Wind, flooding, rain, snow and fierce storms of almost any type can appear with little notice so it is wise to be prepared. Does it happen every year? No, but the likelihood is every present so as we turn the calendar to March tomorrow look forward to spring, but don't be surprised if it's not quite time yet. Be ready to deal with it, for as we've seen before, when nature decides to act up in the form of rough weather, it's going to happen and there's very little we can do about it except to find shelter and be safe. Maybe a prayer to God, the creator of that very nature and we who are part of it, might not be a bad idea either.