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Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 03/ 1/2011

Recent March weather: In like lion, out like lamb?

By Jason Samenow

The saying goes: If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb.

But how has that saying held up over the last decade?

Let's take a look:

Year March 1 Weather
(hi/low, precip, max wind speed)

March 31 Weather
(hi/low, precip, max wind speed)

2001 48/28, no precip, 20 mph 48/42, 0.05", 10 mph
2002 50/27, no precip, 14 mph 57/48, 0.26", 13 mph
2003 39/33, 0.01", 13 mph 44/30, no precip, 22 mph
2004 69/37, no precip, 17 mph 51/44, 0.06", 12 mph
2005 39/30, no precip, 20 mph 55/44, no precip, 14 mph
2006 50/32, no precip, 14 mph 78/48, no precip, 17 mph
2007 56/36, 0.19", 16 mph 62/44, no precip, 16 mph
2008 52/37, trace, 29 mph 52/42, 0.04", 12 mph
2009 38/31, 1" snow, 31 mph
61/38, no precip, 16 mph
2010 50/37, no precip, 29 mph 71/49, no precip, 25 mph

Interestingly, though 10 years is a small sample size, the saying seems to hold some truth - at least if you compare one date relative to the other...

Keep reading for more, and vote in a poll...

* In nine of 10 years, it was milder on March 31 than March 1 (taking an average of the high and low temperature).

* In eight of 10 years, it was as windy or windier on March 1 than March 31.

* There's not much of a signal for precipitation, with measurable precipitation in three of ten years on March 1 and in four of 10 years on March 31.

Today, we're looking at a high around 50, after this morning's low of 33. No precipitation will fall and it was windy last night, with a peak wind speed of 20 mph at midnight (which gusted to 28 mph).

By Jason Samenow  | March 1, 2011; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  Latest, Local Climate  
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Though the wind is not blowing, this is TOO COLD to be a lamb!

The lion/lamb comparison so typical of March stems largely from the fact that March weather is very changeable; it can be 65 degrees or warmer one day at midday and 45 or colder at midday the next.

These strong temperature contrasts can also breed very intense cyclonic storms. In fact the 1993 Superstorm was a feature typical of changeable March weather. However accumulating snow becomes rare in Washington, chiefly because it's generally too warm to freeze the ground and allow any snowfall to accumulate.

During a mild March the cherry trees around the Tidal Basin may hit their peak late in the month. This year I suspect it will be too cold to enable peak bloom before April 1.

Posted by: Bombo47jea | March 1, 2011 12:56 PM | Report abuse


I think you may be right it's a lion in a relative sense - because chances are good it will be warmer and maybe less breezy to end the month. However, in a absolute sense, it's pretty lamb-like out there...

Posted by: Jason-CapitalWeatherGang | March 1, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

it's definitely an ovine entrance for march.

"In nine of 10 years, it was milder on March 31 than March 1 (taking an average of the high and low temperature)."

well, yeah... that's completely to be expected. i mean it's a bit like saying winter is colder than spring... or december 1st is usually warmer than december 31st. a better metric might be the temp/precip/wind's departure from normal. "a lion" might be a large departure, and a "lamb" might be the weather doing what it's "supposed to" do - i.e., being normal. using that metric, today is as lamb-like as it could possibly be.

i always thought the expression was meant to be a statement of fact, meaning that march DOES come in like a lion and DOES go out like a lamb.

but, IF the expression is, "IF march comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb", as quoted above, then we should only consider years where it DID come in like a lion... ;-)

Posted by: walter-in-fallschurch | March 1, 2011 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Growing up, I always heard it as "in like a lion, out like a lamb; in like a lamb, out like a lion"; i.e., it always came in/went out as opposites. I agree with Bombo -- way too chilly yesterday to count as lamb-like!

Posted by: stephanie20 | March 2, 2011 10:27 AM | Report abuse

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