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Spring officially starts Monday, but don’t take those snow tires off just yet

By Patrick Bales, The Orillia Packet & Times

A snowmobiler is seen Friday on Lake Couchiching from the foot of Borland Street East. It might not look like it, but spring does arrive Monday.

PATRICK BALES/THE PACKET & TIMES A snowmobiler is seen Friday on Lake Couchiching from the foot of Borland Street East. It might not look like it, but spring does arrive Monday.

It came in like a lion, so lamb chops should soon be on the menu.

Longer days and slight changes in temperature have some people believing the spring that’s right around the corner on the calendar might well be right around the corner in Orillia and the surrounding area.

That could just be wishful thinking, though.

“We’re looking below normal for the next eight to 14 days,” said Dave Brain, an Orillia-based forecaster.

The next week should be relatively snow free, but don’t make an appointment to take the winter tires off the car just yet. There could be another storm brewing.

“I wouldn’t rule it out,” said Brain, who is waiting until toward the end of April to take his snow tires off. “We’ve tended to have some pretty big storms in March and April.”

So, while the days have been longer this week, the chill in the air has seemingly been as cold as any other time during the winter.

“Spring is a state of mind for most people in Ontario,” said Geoff Coulson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

“Some might say 12 degrees Celsius is a beautiful spring day; others feel the change as a psychological effect when daylight saving time occurs,” he said.

Around Lake Simcoe, people weren’t taken aback by the temperature outside.

“This is typical March break weather,” Karol Walpole said as she and her husband, Pete, stomped around the lake, dressed in fur-lined hoods, hats, gloves and warm winter boots.

“I don’t think spring is any longer or shorter than it used to be,” she said.

Pete added: “It’s variable. Some years it’s warmer now; some are not.”

Warmer is one thing. Snow-filled is another. While there were above-average and record-breaking days throughout Simcoe County and Orillia, the city also saw a copious amount of snow fall during the 2016-17 season. To date, approximately 370 cm of snow has fallen in the city – some 100 cm more than the annual average.

Spring arrives March 20, a date aligned with the rotation of the Earth, when the spring equinox more evenly splits the daylight and night time, Coulson said.

The timing doesn’t always work out the greatest in a country with a diverse climate, such as Canada, and one home-improvement retailer is having a bit of fun at the expense of those who are sick and tired of snow and slush.

Home Depot says due to its research showing people don’t begin to search for and buy spring-related products until May in Ontario and Quebec, the spring start date should be changed.

The company also suggests British Columbia’s spring should begin April 3, the Prairies May 22, and the Maritimes at the end of May.


“Spring is our busiest season, but we don’t look to March 20 to kick it off in our stores, and neither do our customers,” said Doug Graham, Home Depot’s director of seasonal merchandising. “We know the anticipation for the change in temperature brings Canadian families and communities together, and so we prepare our stores to be ready for the true arrival of spring in each province.”

Coulson said, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, moving the date to May 1 would please people in Thunder Bay and be considered bad news for those in warmer climes, like Windsor.

He said meteorologists typically split seasons into three-month spans, with December, January and February considered winter and March, April and May considered spring.

“For some people, spring seems to come in the middle of April, when they see double-digit numbers, when it’s 10, 11 or 12 C during the day. Spring, for my wife, means she has to wear a coat, but not one made by Canada Goose,” he said. 

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