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Lamb or lion? Spring anxiously awaited

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Phil Junker

Outdoor Tales

When early March rolls around I think of spring. Admittedly, I get a bit over anxious. I’m thinking warm breezes, morel mushrooms and crappie. 

Last year, essentially, we had no winter. At least very little really cold, bad stuff. But this year, most folks have had enough. So as February comes to an end and March appears on the calendar, spring is on many people’s minds.

Sometimes the reality is snow and ice, or other nasty weather. It is not unusual to find the ground covered with some of the heaviest snows of the winter in March. The good news is the white stuff usually doesn’t stick around very long.

Weather Channel statistics show the average daily high temperature in southern Indiana during March is 55 with a nighttime low of 35. That is reason for optimism as that is about 10 degrees warmer than the February numbers. And the second half of the month, statistically, the high temperatures should be well into the 60s.

There’s an old saying, “If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,” or if March comes in like a lamb – nice weather – it will go out like a lion, meaning bad weather. I don’t know that anyone has researched the accuracy of the saying, but stats show the end of the month is warmer than the start.

How March 2013 will begin is yet to be determined. I don’t remember all of the bad March storms in recent years or whether or not the months started as lambs or lions. However, there have been a number of storms that have found their way between those longer and warmer days I look forward to March. Being a month of significant weather change, most anything can happen during March, and frequently does.

At the end of March in 1987, March 30, a heavy snow blanketed most of the Ohio River Valley, and a year later, a 2-inch glaze of ice covered much of the same area.

On March 10, 1990, a warm front produced a number of storms, including damaging 65 mph winds in Kentucky, and back on March 21, 1952, a series of tornados killed 343 people, including a number in the Bluegrass state.

It also was during March in 1913 and 1936 when rains and melting snow caused significant river flooding throughout the Ohio River valley.

Hopefully, this year we will have uneventful March weather. Shortly, the crocus will appear and not far behind will be the daffodil. Those hardy, beautiful yellow flowers first bloom on the south inside of the hill at my home and are a pleasant reminder that spring is at hand. 

The morel mushrooms can’t be far behind. I’ve found morels as early as the last week in March, but it usually is the second week in April before they appear in sizable numbers.

Who originated the old saying about March and the lion and lamb, no one seems to know. But whether or not the weather comes in like a lamb or lion, we almost are assured of a bit more winter weather, but Mother Nature will start sneaking in a few warmer days. The crocus and other early spring flowers will begin to pop up, and there might even be a few early black morels peek through the leaves.

Outdoors columnist Phil Junker can be reached at outdoorscribe@ yahoo.com.