First day of spring brings chill weather, wind

Fruit trees blossom along Lew Wallace Street on Monday afternoon, signaling the onset of spring. Although Monday marked the first day of spring, temperatures stayed in the mid-to-low 40s. (Staff photo: Sharna Johnson)

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

White, puffy clouds and a baby blue sky were somewhat deceiving signs.

Yes, Monday was the first day of spring. But it was windy and wintry — a day better suited for mittens and gloves, than tulips and frolicking in the sun.

The wind whipped at 51 mph speeds, clipping temperatures in Clovis into the 40s, according to weather officials.

Spring, however, is a season with many faces, according to an Albuquerque weather forecaster.

“On the first day of spring, you can see almost anything, from a blizzard to a 70-degree, breezy day. It all falls in the norm,” said National Weather Service Hydrologist and Meteorologist Ed Polasko.

“I see spring,” he said, “as being a transition period from whatever happened that winter.”

Plump raindrops fell from the sky on the eve of spring’s official launch, in a lauded break from the dry spell that reigned all winter. The downpour Sunday yielded about an inch of moisture, according to weather officials. The region has not seen such accumulation in six months. It rained 1.6 inches on Aug. 21, weather officials said.

Clovis native Joe Martinez welcomed the rain Sunday. He watched from his porch as the late night thunderstorm ushered in spring, he said.

“I was hoping it would rain forever,” said another Clovis resident, Armando Aguilar.

“Between now and summer,” Aguilar said, “I am hoping for more rain.”
That may not happen, according to weather officials.

Gusts of spring wind will rip through the region as normal, but rainfall will be sparse, Polasko said.

“The outlook for the rest of the spring is,” he said, “… it will be drier than normal. There will be days when thunderstorms develop and some places get a real drench, while nearby places will get almost nothing.”

The unusually dry winter and expected arid spring, Polasko said, are because of La Nina, a weather system characterized by unusually cold temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near the equator.

The system is pushing moisture north of New Mexico, Polasko said.