By Roger Chambers
March varies day-to-day from fairly pleasant to blustery and wintry. In like a lion, out like a lamb (or vice versa) goes the iconic legend. While seasonable temperatures range from the 20s°F to perhaps 50°F temperatures are rarely below zero. However, March has the highest temperature variability of any month, from a record high of 87°F in 1984 (perhaps exceeded during an incredibly warm March a few years ago) to a record low of -15°F in 1980.
One thought on most peoples’ minds is summed up in one word: SPRING. March varies day-to-day from fairly pleasant to blustery and wintry. In like a lion, out like a lamb (or vice versa) goes the iconic legend. While seasonable temperatures range from the 20s°F to perhaps 50°F temperatures are rarely below zero. However, March has the highest temperature variability of any month, from a record high of 87°F in 1984 (perhaps exceeded during an incredibly warm March a few years ago) to a record low of -15°F in 1980. One thought on most peoples’ minds is summed up in one word: SPRING.
Holidays and Observances in March
March 2, Texas Independence Day , March 6 Town Meeting Day in Vermont, March 8, International Women’s Day, March 12, Commonwealth Day (Canada), March 17 St. Patrick’s Day; Evacuation Day (Suffolk County, Massachusetts), March 17-18 Maple Weekend, March 24-25 Maple Weekend, March 25 Palm Sunday
March 26: Seward’s Day (Alaska) • March 30: Good Friday; Passover begins at sunset • March 31: Cesar Chavez Day 50° • St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, and Maple Weekends
The vernal equinox occurs on March 20 with daylight hours rapidly increasing on the way to the summer solstice of late June. While this marks the official beginning of spring, Uticans know that Spring really begins with the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, this year on the day itself, March 17. The equinox is closely related to Easter, the date being set as the first Sunday after the Full Moon on or after the equinox. Occasionally Easter occurs in March, but perhaps three years out of four it is in April, this year on April 1, after the Full Sap Moon of March 31st.
While the snow and cold make it uncomfortable at times, Utica’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has since its modern beginnings in the 1970s become one of the largest parades in the state. It usually includes over a dozen fife and drum corps, bagpipe bands, and other musical groups from across the state and attracts well over ten thousand spectators. One year recently it was postponed a week due to severe below zero wind chill temperatures. However, despite the occasional snow and cold, it has so far never been “canceled.” This culturally marks the beginning of spring as Central New York comes out of the semi-hibernation of winter.
Agriculture plays a large part in regional festivals and Maple Weekends are held in late March. During this time, most maple producers across the state have an open house, including pancake breakfasts, tours of their production of boiling the collected sap and wagon rides to where they tap the sap from maple trees.
Today this is largely modernized with networks of piping collecting the sap, though some producers still use collecting buckets and horse-drawn wagons for re-enactment of historical means of production.
Some of the regional producers that usually participate in this annual event are Ben & Judy’s Sugarhouse in West Edmonton, Tibbits Farm in New Hartford, VVS-FFA Maple Market in Verona, Dave and Joan’s Sugarhouse in Oneida, and Critz Farm in Cazenovia. In addition to pancake breakfasts, most producers have for sale varying grades of pure maple syrup and a wide variety of maple candies and other treats. So get out and enjoy one of the first outdoor festivals of the year.
In the Night Skies • Full Worm Moon on March 1 • Last Quarter on March 9 • Shift to Daylight Savings Time at 2:00 a.m., March 11 • New Moon on March 17 • Vernal Equinox (first day of Spring) on March 20 • First Quarter on March 24 • Full Sap Moon on March 31
March this year is unusual with two full Moons, after no Full Moon in February. The Full Worm Moon is March 1st and the Full Sap Moon on March 31st.
Mercury can be observed only occasionally, but this month it as an evening star in the twilight hours, especially from March 5th-18th. It is easy to find, to the right of the very bright Venus. On the 18th, these two planets appear close to the thin crescent Moon in the early evening.
The annual “spring ahead” occurs at 2:00 a.m. on March 11th when we shift to Eastern Daylight Time. Spring officially begins with the Vernal Equinox at 12:15 p.m. on March 20th.