Wild March weather - an interview with our digital meteorologist

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As we will see this weekend, March can be a crazy month for weather on Long Island. For more insight on why it can be so wild, we sat down with News 12 digital meteorologist Geoff Bansen.

Q: When I say “March weather on Long Island” what immediately comes to mind? What images? What’s the wacky range of conditions we can see – and have seen!

A: The first thing that comes to mind is last year and the 4 snow storms that we had (The FOUR-easters). March is truly the “wild card” month– anything can happen, from blizzards to 70 degree temperatures.

Q: If you were to choose one emoji and one GIF to represent March weather on LI, what would it be?

A: For the public, I chose the “Helpless” or “Never giving up” emoji... 

...because March can make us feel helpless: winter never gives up! Just when you think winter is over and warmer weather is here….BAM! More cold and snow.

For us meteorologists, I picked the "Head exploding" emoji...

 ...because that can be us trying to forecast March sometimes!

 As far as my favorite March GIF:


Q: So,  it’s one of those transition months, right? What’s going on behind the scenes that’s making things shift?

A: The sun is getting higher in the sky, and temperatures are becoming milder as we approach spring, so it is harder for storms to dump snow as opposed to rain. But that’s not to say it can’t happen! Much like last March, if a blocking pattern sets up, we can see the jet stream send coastal storms right at us. Couple that with colder than normal temperatures, and you have yourself a recipe for late-season snow.

Q: Hey, it holds the title of windiest month on Long Island! What’s the setup that makes for so much wind at this time of year? Can you say how high winds generally get in the month?

A: A bigger temperature contrast between areas to our north and south can often be an ingredient for stronger storms. Cold air masses have very high air pressures. At the same time, the increasingly strong sunshine over more temperate zones to our south produce warm air masses. Southerly winds bring this warm air in contact with the very cold air, and the resulting pressure difference can make for some windy days. 

Additionally, the stronger sun angle increases atmospheric instability. The surface warms, and since warm air is lighter than cold air, the air rises. This process results in more "mixing", which tends to bring down stronger winds from the upper atmosphere. 

 Q: Any March events that really stand out from when you were growing up – heck, even up to last year, which was a doozy. And, what about them were impressive?

A: Other than the craziness that was last March, there was a notable event from when I was in high school. A chilly March rainstorm in 2010 was immediately followed by incredibly high winds. The rains loosened the soil, and the winds toppled numerous trees, many of which were older and very large.

Q: If you were advising a person from far away who’s coming to Long Island during March, what would you tell them to bring so they would be prepared for whatever Mother Nature sends along?

A: Bring your patience! March is a zany month – it comes in like a lion, but doesn’t always go out like a lamb here on Long Island.

Q: Finally, what does it mean, digital meteorologist? In addition to social media, what other digital things do you do as part of the job?

Other than doing the weather on TV, my job as a digital meteorologist is to enhance our weather coverage in the other aspects of News 12 –  News12.com, the News 12 app, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We are in an ever-evolving digital world, and with so many platforms readily available at people’s fingertips, it is important that they are getting the most accurate and up-to-date weather coverage not only on their televisions. My team and I are also working on a number of new and exciting ideas that will further develop this position and add to our digital content.

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