Thursday, March 1, 2012

In like a lion...

So there's a common saying regarding weather during the month of March.  That if March comes in like a lion (bad weather) it will go out like a lamb (nice weather) and vice-versa.  Well March is certainly coming in like a lion here in the Hudson Valley - just look at the 12-hour forecast map on the evening of February 29!

We're in for a nasty day today with a Winter Weather Advisor from the National Weather Service due to the mix of rain, sleet, and snow forecast for the day.  I'm not much of a fan of such weather as it leaves me house-bound and restless.  I also have two classes this morning which may well be canceled requiring extra work on my part to make up (snow days aren't really a vacation for me).  At least we're not getting the nasty tornadoes along the leading edge of that cold front causing all the devastation and loss of life out in Branson, Missouri and elsewhere.

So anyway, since March is coming in like a lion, can we now hope it will go out like a lamb?  I hope so since I'm anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring!  That got me to wondering where the expression came from and if it has any validity (alas, I suspect not).  While some weather adages are based on observation and may generally hold true, others are simply rhymes or sayings that seem to have no basis in reality.

March is a changable month, containing the vernal equinox, and being the transitional month between the cold and snows of winter and the warm greening days of spring.  As such, it can be either lion-like or lamb-like at either the beginning or the end of the month.  The saying may well be a desire to see a symmetry between the start and end of the month, a yin-yang balancing of the cosmic forces.

Doing a little research (OK, I used Google), I was only able to ascertain that it's a traditional English folk saying. Here it is in the book Gnomologia: Adagies and Proverbs; Wise Sentences and Witty Sayings, Ancient and Modern, Foreign and British collected by Thomas Fuller, M.D. and published in London in 1732 (page 295).

     "March balkham, Comes in like a Lion, goes out like a Lamb."

No, I don't know what "balkham" means!

Here's the late, great John Belushi discussing this adage on an old Saturday Night Live skit.

So is it true?  Well, we do have weather records and the general consensus is that March often does go in like a lion and out like a lamb simply because the beginning of March is simply the tail end of winter here in our region and the end of March is the beginning of spring.  It's not surprising to see an improvement of the weather over the month.  Other than that general trend, there really is no correlation (nor would you expect a reason for such).

I supposed I could dig out all the weather records to statistically show this, but I have better things to do with my day!

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