The whole of Banff, Lake Louise and the Canadian Rockies looked forward to March. The forecast was for the Polar Vortex to finally move out ( after 5 weeks ) and for Spring temperatures to come. The Spring Equinox was only 2.5 weeks away! Not only was it supposed to get warmer but we would have a Super Moon AND the Spring Equinox at the same time! This was setting up to be a superb March .
Well, the polar cortex didn’t co-operate and waiting for the sun to rise over the iconic Mt. Rundle the air temperature was -37ºc at 7am! At this rate the spring equinox may be “in the stars” but not on the ground in the Canadian Rockies!
The frigid air will come from a brief visit by the polar vortex — which is a real meteorological phenomenon, not just a sensational headline. It’s a whirling mass of cold air circulating in the mid- to upper-levels of the atmosphere, present every winter.
So as those living in Banff, the Canadian Rockies – and all Canadians – look forward to the arrival of the spring equinox, warmer temperatures and longer days, this extended polar vortex was a bad surprise.
We wanted Spring and the closing in of the Spring Equinox should mean – longer days, warmer temperatures and the “Joi de vive” that Spring imparts to the Landscape , the animals and all of us living and visiting Banff.
Not Entirely Equal Day & Night
On the equinoxes the Sun shines directly on the equator and the length of day and night is nearly equal – but not quite.
The March equinox marks the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator – the imaginary line in the sky above the Earth’s equator – from south to north and vice versa in September.
I am sure you have heard the saying “Beware the Ides of March” BUT this March , the Ides of March brought us unseasonably WARM temperatures and the Spring we all were wishing for came in and in Spades! Mid to end of March saw plus Temps for day time highs and clear deep blue skies that only the Canadian Rockies can render . It is a blue that is deep, inviting, calming and the perfect canvas for the sun and a few clouds.
To top it all of – we were to be treated to a super moon at the exact same time as the equinox. With a warm, long day to view the super moon, the dawn of spring and the equinox the ides of march were nothing to “beware” of the much to be delighted in.
A Super moon occurs when a full moon coincides with the moon’s perigee, or the point in its elliptical orbit at which it is closest to Earth. This makes the moon appear up to 14 percent larger and 30 percent brighter than usual.
Due to a little understood optical effect, called the Moon illusion, the Full Moon can seem huge when rising behind distant objects on the horizon. A Super Moon could appear especially impressive.
And sure enough, there was the Supermoon suspended over the Mountains and shedding a soft bluish light on the whole area. . The light was soft but intense and I could easily read the map without the use of a head lamp. What a show it was !
And then it started to descend rapidly behind the ridge line and was gone! It was gone but in the east the sky was starting to light up from the rising sun. I waited for the Sun to get up and shine on the the mountains (Crowfoot Mtn.) – and that was the end to a perfect 1st day of Spring. Thanks to the Supermoon, the Spring Equinox ( the vanquishing of the Polar Vortex) and the tantalizing Canadian Rockies!
Didn’t get to see the Supermoon? Want a memory of the spring equinox in the Canadian Rockies? Want to see what -37ºc and the polar vortex look like at sunrise?
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