An English proverb describes typical March weather in the United States: March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. The proverb’s roots are from England, where the phrase was used more to describe April conditions than March. In the 19th century, the proverb became a bit of forecasting folklore, where people assumed an active weather pattern in early March often wraps up with more calmer conditions by the end of the month. Some also believe the reverse is true; a calmer start to the month could be indicative of a busy weather pattern at the end of the month into April.
But while the end of March is often milder than the beginning as the winter season ends and spring begins, there doesn’t seem to be much scientific fact to the saying. The beginning and ending of the month can both look very similar in terms of weather activity and a weather pattern that sets-up early in the month can linger throughout the entire month.
Currently, the GFS and ECMWF global forecast models do suggest a very active weather pattern for most of the United States in the first days of March. The GFS and ECMWF are among many computer models meteorologists use to assist in weather forecasting. While meteorologists have many tools at their disposal to create weather forecasts, two primary global forecast models they do use are the ECMWF from Europe and the GFS from the United States. While the models share a lot of the same initial data, they differ with how they digest that data and compute possible outcomes. One is better than the other in some scenarios, while the opposite is true in others. No model is “right” all the time. Beyond the ECMWF and GFS models, there are numerous other models from other countries, other academic institutions, and private industry that are also considered when making a forecast.
Both of these global forecast models are projecting a very active and volatile weather pattern for the final week of February, with significant snow to the north, rain to the south, and an icy mix between the two areas. The models suggest the entire continental U.S. will see active conditions, with no region escaping the busy weather pattern. And these forecast models suggest more of the same will occur in the first days of March.
It is too soon to know whether the forecast models are onto something; and its definitely too soon to know for sure how the weather pattern will evolve as March continues and ends. One thing is sure: more folklore and proverbs will return, as people look for “April showers to bring May flowers.”