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GRANDMA SAYS: Three snows before winter goes

They are as tough as they are beautiful. Ruth Boudreau took this photo Monday afternoon in Little Bras d’Or on Cape Breton Island.  Ruth says these spring crocuses are close to the foundation of her home, in a nice warm spot. I don’t think yesterday’s snow harmed them at all and I bet they are smiling up at the sun again today!
They are as tough as they are beautiful. Ruth Boudreau took this photo Monday afternoon in Little Bras d’Or on Cape Breton Island. Ruth says these spring crocuses are close to the foundation of her home, in a nice warm spot. I don’t think yesterday’s snow harmed them at all and I bet they are smiling up at the sun again today! - Contributed

Grandma was never surprised when it snowed after the spring equinox.  She was always quick to remind us that there would be three more snows after the first day of spring.

Lo and behold, after I moved to Atlantic Canada, I learned that according to Nova Scotia folklore, the Annapolis Valley always receives three snowfalls after the March equinox.  They are so predictable, they have been given names.

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

The second snow following the equinox is the robin snow; according to folklore, this snowfall brings them back. (Those who did indeed migrate.)

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.

So 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.  Snow often falls on the leading edge of a system that is travelling through with mild air.  That was the case yesterday.  Behind the wet weather, there is often a dry slot and some sun, like today.  That 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 most of us experienced four snowfalls after the spring equinox; Mother Nature was kind enough to toss in a bonus snowfall around April 16.  Residents of Deer Lake, N.L., “enjoyed” eight snow events following the official start of the spring season.  The latest measurable snowfall in Atlantic Canada was May 6 when two cm. of snow fell at the Deer Lake airport.

Here’s hoping Mother Nature doesn’t feel the need to be quite so generous this year!



Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network

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