Weather Folklore: Will March really come ‘in like a lion, and out like a lamb?’

Weather Blog

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — The famous phrase heading into the month of March begs the question each year: Will it come “in like a lion, and out like a lamb”, or “in like a lamb, and out like a lion?”

It’s typically thought that March will come “in like a lion,” meaning cold and snowy, and go “out like a lamb,” meaning with calm and mild, but how true is this old saying?

The phrase came out from sometime around the 18th century from old poems and proverbs, where it was eventually written into the Farmer’s Almanac. It’s a bit unsure the exact point of origin to this day, but the phrase has been passed down over centuries as a way to “predict” how the weather will unfold as we transition from winter to spring. Based on ancestral beliefs, it was believed that in life there’s always balance, so if one thing began one way, it would happen the opposite way on the other side.

The premise behind it makes sense, considering the fact that the first half of March begins while we’re still in astronomical winter. The sun angle is climbing but still relatively low, and it takes time before warmer temperatures kick in.

MORE⼁Seasonal Lag: The relationship between incoming sunlight and temperatures on earth

The beginning of March is still technically winter, but the first of the month also starts the first day of meteorological spring. This is different from the astronomical seasons in that it begins on the first day of the month containing that season.

March climatologically is known for its “ups and downs” in weather based on this transition from colder weather to warmer weather. Whenever there are drastic changes in weather, stronger winds from incoming weather systems occur as a result, which is why Western New York often gets its high wind events during this time. Large temperature changes from passing fronts and weather systems all make up our changeable weather throughout the year, and during seasonal transitions it can be even more changeable and difficult to predict exactly what Mother Nature will throw our way.

In reality, this phrase is more of a fun rhyme than a true predictor of what the weather will hold throughout the month, but it can still be fun to keep track of patterns and events to see whether or not the month will in fact come in like a lion, or out like a lamb and vice versa!

The Forecast

If you count the very first day of March alone in this, I would say it’s definitely coming in like a lion based on our drastic switch back to the winter feel with cold, wind, and bursts of snow expected. The first week as a whole however looks more like a lamb. A decent stretch of relatively quiet weather looks to take us through at least Friday.

Taking a look at long term guidance, small signs show that after a brief cool down next weekend, generally inactive weather will take place. There are also decent chances for above average temperatures as a large ridge builds across the United States, while the CPC also shows we could see above average precipitation for the month.

In reality you never really know what the month will have in store weather wise, and since this is a big month known for drastic changes in weather as we transition from winter to spring, we’ll have to get further into the month to see just how it may end.

Get the latest on the local forecast HERE.

~Meteorologist Christine Gregory

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