SNOW on Cowal and white-topped waves surging up the Clyde were signs that winter was still dominant despite the spring equinox approaching fast, writes David Carnduff.
Although February had bowed out gracefully with a period of calm and a brilliant “snow moon”, it was folly to think that March would be without its customary storms.
Predictably, the month’s calm arrival was followed by roller-coaster conditions as a big “low” brought gales, rain and snow on the hills.
However, calm has returned this week, thanks to a developing high pressure system which brought the first real taste of spring.
Inverclyde’s weather — always a talking point — is often determined by conditions prevailing thousands of miles away in the far reaches of the Atlantic.
Weather charts on TV frequently show systems developing near the Azores. They then come north in long, wavering fronts which always seem to be hell bent on making Inverclyde their first landfall.
I am of sufficient vintage to believe that rainfall nowadays is heavier and more prolonged. Scientists say the increase is caused by climate change — and it’s only going to get worse.
That gloomy prospect is borne out by a new report which warns that global warming is weakening the flow of the Gulf Stream which moderates the temperature here on the fringes of Europe.
The report’s authors say further weakening would increase the number and severity of storms hitting Britain in 20 to 30 years — and, incidentally, bring more heatwaves.
In fact, the Gulf Stream is said to have already slowed by about 15 per cent and hasn’t been this weak for 1,000 years.
Despite its fickle moods, March marks the start of bird migration across Europe and summer-visiting chiffchaffs and sand martins are among the first to risk stormy weather by making the long flight north.
Chiffchaffs are little sprites no heavier than a pound coin so it’s remarkable that they arrive here in the lean, mean days of March before leaves appear on trees.
Listen out for these small warblers in mature woodland where they call their name high in the branches as they seek meagre pickings to build up weight after the rigours of migration.
If you venture out, come rain or shine, remember the wise counsel left to us by fell walker and writer Alfred Wainwright: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”