Spring sprung at 3:24 p.m. on March 20. Here's the science behind the date and time

According to a local weather expert, Calgarians may have to wait some time to feel the effects of what many consider to be spring temperatures. 

Weather expert says Calgary can expect a delayed start to seasonal temperatures

A woman laughs while talking to a friend.
Kari Blessing was out with her friend Barb in Calgary on the first day of spring. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

March 20. It's a day Kari Blessing has been looking forward to for months. 

"The sun is out, the sky is blue, and the pathways are clear," said Blessing. "It makes us feel like winter is over and the season of life has begun."

Spring officially started this year on March 20 at 3:24 p.m. MT. The exact date and time differs annually because there aren't exactly 365 days every year. 

But at that time in 2023, the sun was directly overhead of the equator, at the exact place in the Earth's orbit around the sun where that occurs. 

It's a phenomenon called vernal equinox, which means there are equal periods of both day and night everywhere on the surface of the Earth. 

"I love spring. It's the idea about new life and the snow will melt, and we'll get green grass and the birds are coming out," Blessing said. "We have a flicker at my house that's proclaiming his love for spring on our roof."

According to an expert, however, we may have to wait to feel the effects of what many consider to be spring weather in Calgary. 

A man talking at a camera wearing a toque.
Weather expert Kyle Brittain says Calgary should expect a sluggish start to spring. (Dave Gilson/CBC)

In the Northern Hemisphere, we'll start to see a net-surplus of solar radiation, said Kyle Brittain, a Calgary-based weather expert and freelance video journalist.

But with the amount of snow that's still around, and with it being a reflective surface, the ground isn't able to absorb too much of the sun's energy yet.

"What we really need to do, though, is get rid of the snowpack," Brittain said.

"Here in Alberta, [we're] looking at maybe a slightly delayed start to true spring-like weather until we start to melt that snowpack. But, in general, we're getting there already." 

Brittain noted there will be a rapid warming once the snow starts to go, adding he personally doesn't feel that spring has arrived until then.

"Give me a few weeks, once all that snow's gone, and you can start to smell the ground again on those warmer spring days," he said. 


Omar Sherif is a digital journalist with CBC Calgary. You can contact him at

With files from Dave Gilson, The Calgary Eyeopener