Spring Tidings

20190320_equinox-5b81866890cfbfa8702cec5599778d3f77523296-s1300-c85

The vernal equinox falls on March 19 nationwide this year. It’s the earliest start to spring since 1896. This photo shows the Earth shortly before the moment of the equinox on March 20, 2019.
GOES-East/NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

It is extra early, which seems none too soon from our point of view:

Spring Starts Today All Over America, Which Is Weird

Spring begins today in America. Good.

equinox-diagram_custom-379eeb604eb39c50d0695bd3bd6164dcb89c9f33-s1300-c85

On the equinox, day and night are roughly equal everywhere on Earth. The date varies because the 365-day calendar doesn’t perfectly line up with the motion of the Earth around the Sun. Encyclopaedia Britannica/Universal Images Group via Getty

Perhaps you are mildly surprised to learn that March 19 is the first day of spring. Perhaps you learned as a child that the spring equinox — when day and night are roughly the same length — occurs on either March 20 or March 21.

Indeed, the equinox has historically fallen on one of those dates. This is the first time in 124 years the first day of spring has occurred on March 19 nationwide, irrespective of time zone — even the graphics on the National Weather Service’s website have yet to catch up with the new reality.

So, how did we end up with an extra-early spring? Continue reading