Wednesday March 20, 2013

Spring has sprung! No, really. Snowy and cold as today may be, it's the official first day of spring. Look closely and you may see some very chilly crocuses poking their way through the frost.

Today marks the vernal equinox in the northern hemisphere. According to The Old Farmer's Almanac, the word equinox is derived from the Latin words meaning "equal night." Today's daytime and nighttime hours will be approximately equal, and the sun will rise and set due east and west.

The snow will melt away just as soon temperatures rise a bit more ... higher, that is, than today's expected high of 34, according to The Weather Channel.

But that forecast could change. Weather forecasts are, after all, just predictions that sometimes are spot on, and other times run askew.

A snowstorm that was slated to beset the Bennington area -- and much of the East -- with something like three to five inches of precipitation Monday evening into Tuesday turned out to be tamer than originally forecasted.

Bennington-area readers who woke up to only about an inch of snow Tuesday morning know that sort of snow didn't pile up here.

But Vermonters seem to take weather predictions with a grain of salt. If two feet of snow are predicted and only five inches accumulate as happened in a mid-January storm -- everyone blames the weather forecasters for getting it wrong.


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But with the mercurial weather patterns here quite, no one's truly surprised when forecasts are off.

Banner readers responded to a weather-related Facebook poll Monday night with varying comments:

Carrie Snide responded Monday, "It doesn't really matter how much we will get, they will prob cancel school anyway."

"They cancelled school for nothing," posted Denna Simon Tuesday after the storm's relatively mild showing.

Area school administrators have the tough job of making the call to possibly close or delay classes in advance of a storm. There are days when school is canceled and not much happens weather-wise. There are others, when the decision to call off school for the safety of the students is absolutely the right one.

The decision has serious consequences related not only to students, but the safety of commuters and staff who drive to school. Whatever the school superintendent's decision, it's one that's not taken lightly and impacts thousands of children and many more parents and guardians.

Some businesses were quite happy about the snow, which fell a bit heavier in the mountains. Snowfall was reported to have accumulated up to about a foot, and counting, as of Tuesday evening at Londonderry ski resort Magic Mountain. Mount Snow reported 13 inches at the tope of the mountain "and smiles a mile wide" in a Twitter post. Stratton Mountain tweeted that the snowfall was "epic."

It's a big difference from this time last year, when temperatures near 80 degrees forced an early end to ski season. With this week's snow, Vermont ski resorts have a bit of a reprieve and look forward to some prime spring skiing and boarding days still to come.

If you're looking forward to warmer (than 34 degrees) spring temperatures, you may have to wait a bit longer. Colder than normal weather is likely for at least another week, as air flows into the region from the north, instead of the south, according to Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Mass., who was interviewed for an Associated Press article.

Might as well break out the sunscreen and enjoy some spring skiing.

~Michelle Karas