Today we heard a cuckoo for the first time this year. It’s late: normally we hear one on 29th March +/- three days. And it’s a full week after some friends who live 15 km south of us told us they had heard one. Mind you, it’s been so windy this week that we might not have heard it even if it did arrive earlier.
March came in like a lamb and went out like a lion. Is there an equivalent phrase in French? I couldn’t find one but would be pleased to know if there is. After a gloomy and very wet, but not cold, winter we were blessed with sunshine and unseasonably warm temperatures. This was how March used to be when we first moved here almost 17 years ago.
The last few days of March were very windy, though. A vent d’autan, the violent wind that comes up from the south, blew for several days and deposited dust picked up from the Sahara all over our cars and the swimming pool cover. It sticks like cement, too. Once the autan dies down, it’s a signal for the rain to begin. This torpedoed the plan to spend today working at la chapelle de Teysseroles, which we are helping to restore.
Onto the figures for March:
Weather assessment for March 2014
A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In March we recorded:
Pluses – 15
Zeros – 8
Minuses – 8
The graph shows the percentage of plus days each March for the past 16 years (the line is the trend).
Despite the good weather, this was an average March. We have had 6 better, 8 worse and 1 the same. The fact that it sticks in our memories as a good one shows how rotten the winter weather was.
Our rainfall stats go back to August 2004. March is traditionally a dry month and we had 64 mm of rain against an average of 74.6 mm. It rained on 7 days compared to the average of 11. Nonetheless, the total for the year to date is 300 mm and the average is 222.9 mm. So we have had our fair share of rain.
This winter was exceptionally mild. This is just as well. If all the rain had fallen as snow, we would have had to be dug out.
We had 4 frost nights in March, bringing the total for 2014 to date to 9 and for the winter as a whole to 26 frost nights. This was not the least frosty winter we’ve had. The prize goes to 2001 – 17 frost nights.
Now for a dicton (proverb), which in France are numerous. It’s not good news:
Si les quatre premiers jours d’avril sont venteux il y en aura pour quarante jours. If the first four days of April are windy, it will stay like that for 40 days.
I hope not. I loathe the wind.
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