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GRANDMA SAYS: Three snows before winter goes

Raymond Hart, 12, shovels the entryway in front of Hopper’s Jewellers in Windsor, NS, during a Nor’Easter on March 22, 2018.
Raymond Hart, 12, shovels the entryway in front of Hopper’s Jewellers in Windsor, NS, during a snowstorm March 22, 2018. Was it the smelt snow? - Colin Chisholm

If you had opened up your window last Thursday when the snow was falling, you might have heard a chorus of “oh no, not more snow”! Yes, astronomically it was spring, but we all know we don’t really get into spring-like weather until we turn the calendar page - sometimes two pages.

Grandma was never surprised when it snowed after the spring equinox. She was always quick to remind us there would be three more snows after the first day of spring. Lo and behold, after I moved here I learned that, according to Maritime folklore, the Annapolis Valley always receives three snowfalls after the March equinox and they are so predictable they have been given names.

The first snow is the smelt snow: it’s believed the smelt would start to run after the first spring snow.

The second snowfall following the equinox is the robin snow: according to folklore this snowfall brings them back.

And finally, the green grass snow. Grandma often referred to it as poor man’s fertilizer. I think this one is an attempt to put a positive spin on a very late snowfall and keep some people from crying.

Is there any truth to this? Well in March, frontal boundaries start to push through as the jet stream attempts to shift from its winter position to a more summertime one. The big puffy snowflakes are often associated with a warm front. Behind a warm front, there is often a dry slot and some sun! Warm spring sunshine could trigger the smelt migration, bring the birds out of the woods and maybe even make the grass green.

I decided to check last year’s weather statistics; I found that we had four snowfalls after the spring equinox. Mother Nature was kind enough to toss in a bonus snowfall April 2. I hope she doesn’t feel the need to do the same this year!

Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.

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