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Vernal equinox, spring equinox, same thing. It's the first day of spring!

Mid-80s temperatures and dog-days thunderstorms greet the vernal equinox with summer weather

Vernal equinox. Spring equinox. The first day of spring. Whatever you want to call it, it has arrived.

The vernal equinox (okay, spring equinox if you prefer), the day in which daylight is equal to nighttime, and we gratefully welcomed a fresh spring season, arrived at 1:14 a.m. EDT on Tuesday.

The arrival of spring is welcomed, but in large areas of the United States, it really isn’t making much of a difference. Some regions are expected to reach summer-like temperatures in the mid-80s today, and many have been experiencing 70-degree averages for more than a week.

The vernal equinox arrived anticlimactically after a winter of very little action. No Snowmageddon this year. And, the March “in like a lion, out like a lamb” line really won’t play much of a role this year, either.

The entire month has been very lamb-like for most of the country; although, some areas of the Midwest would disagree.

With a major storm system moving through the central United States, the conditions are just right for violent weather to occur. And it has.

Tornadoes touched down in Dallas and San Antonio late Monday night, and Nebraska was hit Sunday. Recently, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri were hit by deadly tornadoes, all due to storm systems we typically see later in the spring and early summer.

Weather wise, spring arrived early this year, but 2012 also marks the earliest vernal equinox since 1892 in an astronomical sense. Although March 21 is often thought of as the “first day of spring”, it hasn’t been so for more than 30 years. From 1981 to 2102, Americans will celebrate the vernal equinox no later than March 20.

A year isn’t an even number of days, and neither is a season. So the dates marking new seasons change from year to year depending on Earth’s orbit.

But, that doesn’t really make a difference right now because spring is here. The cherry blossoms in Washington D.C. are in full bloom, flies are annoyingly buzzing around heads as people try to absorb as much fresh air as possible and perennials are popping out of the ground a little bit early.

Happy vernal equinox … or spring equinox? Well, happy first day of spring!

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