It looks a lot like May, but it's just the end of March

These days at the Jenkins Aboretum in Devon, Harold Sweetman can see impressionistic green veils among the trees in the distance, and the unfolding of nearby azalea leaves.

That's exactly what the arboretum's executive director says he would expect to see in Chester County - heading into May.

It's been that kind of March. A month notorious for being windy, wet and, wild has been wimpy, parched and mild.

Only this last-minute cooldown will keep it from being the warmest on record in Philadelphia. Based on the forecast, the average monthly temperature will come in at 52.3, No. 2 on the 139-year list, ever so close to the 52.5 of 1921.

As for precipitation, depending on how much rain falls Saturday, the month will finish in the top 10 or top five of the driest Marches.

Usually, the Philadelphia region suffers the fallout of the ferocious winter-summer battles to which March plays host. That's why it's the windiest month of the year. Not this March. Winds have averaged under 9 m.p.h. in Philadelphia, about 20 percent weaker than normal.

"It's just a continuation of the winter pattern," said Mike Sager, a meteorologist at Accu-Weather Inc. "Whenever cold air built in Canada, it just got shunted east, instead of letting it plunge southward.

"It's really amazing."

What has been truly different about this March is the obvious: It's beginning to look a lot like May.


Contact Anthony R. Wood at 610-761-8423 or twood@phillynews.com