The shift in temps and conditions these next few days looks a lot like a typical March pattern. It's a wild ride. I'm not thinking anything bad... just some high ups and some low downs. Within 3-4 days highs will be in the 80s and the low 50s. Maybe in some rare cases... upper 40s.
Around this time of year we start hearing about "Blackberry Winter" and "Dogwood Winter" these are the cold snaps we see according to our heritage. Those types of winters are very well known in the Appalachians. But What do they mean?
Dogwood Winter occurs about the time the dogwoods bloom, usually between mid-April and mid-May, varying from year to year. In some areas, Blackberry Winter and Dogwood Winter occur at the same time, while those living two or three states away may experience two distinct, separate cold snaps.
Dogwood Winter, like most of the "winters" mentioned here, is a somewhat predictable weather event of the thermal currents making a short reversal of direction, bringing a few days or even a week of cold weather, sometimes with frost or snow and potential damage to garden plants. Now we all know it is likely to occur, but it’s not predictable enough to say on what day. Our ancestors knew it usually happens when the dogwoods are in bloom. With the possibility of frost happening during Dogwood Winter, they also knew to wait until after the dogwood bloomed to plant tender vegetables and annuals. Native Americans watched for the dogwood blooms as the sign to begin planting corn and other crops.
Our ancestors also knew that blackberries need a cold snap to set buds on the blackberry canes, so as sure as night follows day, there will be a cold snap when the blackberries bloom, called Blackberry Winter. It comes with a somewhat less severe return of a continental polar air mass after the maritime tropical air masses have begun to dominate the weather. In some areas, a late cold snap occurs with the blooming of the locust trees usually before the dogwoods bloom or the redbuds. So you have Locust Winter, and Redbud Winter happening after the first flush of warm spring days and before Dogwood Winter and Blackberry Winter.
Locust Winter generally isn’t as long or cold as Blackberry Winter.
There’s also Linsey-Woolsey Britches Winter, a term not used so much anymore, and then the last gasp of cold weather is Whippoorwill Winter. Linsey-Woolsey Britches Winter was once a popular term, back when winter clothing was homespun of linen/wool, and winters were harsher. It was the last time in spring that you’d need "long johns" before trading them for short sleeves, and it usually came about the time of Blackberry Winter.
These are all part of the ride! It's a ride we are all on these next few weeks. The weekend looks wet and much cooler. That cool air will stay in place until mid week next week.