Kansas, Xavier, Oregon, Gonzaga men advance

SAN JOSE, California — Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett scored 25 points and fed center Sean O’Mara for the winning layup with 54 seconds remaining as the 11th-seeded Musketeers upset second-seeded Arizona 73-71 in the NCAA West Regional semifinals at SAP Center on Thursday. Xavier scored the final nine points, five …

SAN JOSE, California — Xavier guard Trevon Bluiett scored 25 points and fed center Sean O’Mara for the winning layup with 54 seconds remaining as the 11th-seeded Musketeers upset second-seeded Arizona 73-71 in the NCAA West Regional semifinals at SAP Center on Thursday. Xavier scored the final nine points, five …

Spring arrives Monday, but what does that really mean?

The vernal equinox arrives early Monday as daylight increases at its fastest pace of the year.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, on the first day of spring, you are likely to see all sorts of images and gifts welcoming in the vernal equinox. Spring arrives Monday at 6:29 in the morning and while there’s still snow on the ground and cold weather in the forecast, one can’t deny the new season has arrived.

Spring flowers will be blooming across Maine in the coming month. Dave Epstein

Meteorologists start spring after the coldest 90 days of the year, so we began it on March 1st, but astronomical spring arrives when the sun reaches a certain height over the equator at noon each year.  This is typically what most folks celebrate and those in the media herald as spring’s arrival.

While nearly everyone knows spring arrives around March 20th, what’s actually occurring, in terms of the relationship between the Earth and the sun, can still be poorly understood.

The vernal equinox occurs when the rays of the sun are perpendicular to the Earth. NOAA

On both the vernal and autumnal equinoxes the sun will be directly overhead at noon at some place along the equator of our planet.  This year, the first of these two occurrences happens at 6:29 a.m Eastern daylight time March 20th, spring.  Practically, if you were in central Africa and looked up at noon, the sun would be directly above your head forming a 90-degree angle with the ground. On Friday Sept. 22nd at 4:02 p.m EDT the same thing will occur on different spot along the equator as fall begins.

The sun is directly overhead at noon along the equator on the vernal and autumnal equinoxes TimeandDate

 

Just before sunrise, the sun is even with the horizon and then rises during the day reaching the maximum height exactly between sunrise and sunset. The highest point the sun will reach around Portland on Monday is about 46 degrees above the horizon.  This angle will continue to increase until the first day of summer when it’s at about 70 degrees. From then on, it falls reaching a minimum of 23 degrees as winter begins.  Other places on the planet have different maximum heights. There’s always somewhere where the sun is directly overhead, but it only occurs exactly at the equator on the equinox.

Notice how various places around the globe have very different sun angles at noon. Time and Date

You can Follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom

Down at the south pole this week the sun will go from being above the horizon all the time to being just below.  As the days progress, it will become progressively darker until it’s pitch black for many months.  The opposite is occurring at the North Pole.

 

The poles have 6 months of darkness and 6 months of light. Time and Date

 

The sun is up all day at the south pole during our fall and winter, but down all day during our spring and summer. (TimeandDate)
The word equinox comes from the Latin meaning equal night. While nearly all spots on planet Earth have about 12 hours of darkness and light as spring begins, it’s not exact.  You can see from the chart below, depending on where you live on the planet, the day on which you have equal day and night shifts on the calendar.  Multiple factors including the shape of the planet and the way the sun’s light is bent as it passes through the atmosphere cause this.

Actual equal day and night occur at different times depending on where you are located. Time and Date

In a world which many of us are overextended and stressed, the fact that the planet is spinning around a tilted axis at over 1,000 mph can be lost.  As spring arrives Monday, take a moment to ponder the changes occurring, how the increase in light and strength of the sun will soon be melting the snow, warming the Earth and bringing about that magical and dramatic metamorphosis to our landscape known as spring.

 

Follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @ growingwisdom

 

Cold weather continues, but signs of spring are on the horizon

After a cold and snowy March, April will bring about a change in the pattern.

This weekend we find a storm system diving south from Canada and poised to bring a glancing blow of snow to Cape Cod and perhaps eastern Maine. While the exact track of the storm can still shift, the bottom line is it will miss our area.

Energy diving south on the jet stream will ignite a storm off the southern New England coastline, too far away to bring snow to Maine. NOAA

There’s certainly been plenty of snow this month. After a warm spell in February with snow cover diminishing, a renewed surge of snow has left deep amounts across all of Maine. With temperatures remaining below freezing for so many days this month, we haven’t really lost a lot of snow.

There is more than 3 feet of snow in some areas west of the coastline. NOAA

More and more light

You might notice that areas that face south and are exposed to the sun have seen the snow melting in spite of the cold air. This is because our sun’s strength is increasing and is now as strong as it would be on about Sept. 23. The vernal equinox arrives Monday at 6:28 in the morning. Starting yesterday, the daylight hours are now longer than the nighttime ones and this gap continues to grow into the third week of June. Daylight is increasing at its fastest pace of the year, a whopping three minutes a day or 21 each week. In northern Maine it’s even faster.

The gap between sunrise and sunset is growing at about 3 minutes a day.

The gap between sunrise and sunset is growing at about 3 minutes a day. Time and Date

Cold is on its way out

There is another blast of Arctic air scheduled for the middle of the upcoming week. This will keep our average temperature well under what we typically expect in March.

This map shows how far below or above average temperatures have been so far in March. WeatherBell Analytics

I do see a change in the pattern coming later next week and as we start April. The long-range forecast has building warmth in the center of the country poised to enter New England sometime in early April. While this is a longer-range forecast, there is general agreement by the models on this, so it has a higher likelihood of happening.

Much warmer air is forecast to arrive as April begins. WeatherBell Analytics

If you love skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling, the time to enjoy these sports is now, the end of winter is coming and in just a few short weeks, the great spring thaw and mud season will arrive.

You can follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom 

Knee injury shelves Celtics’ Thomas

The Boston Celtics left home without Isaiah Thomas on Thursday to do battle this weekend against Brooklyn and Philadelphia, two teams that began play with a combined total of seven fewer wins than the C’s. According to the team, Thomas suffered a right knee bone bruise in a battle under …

The Boston Celtics left home without Isaiah Thomas on Thursday to do battle this weekend against Brooklyn and Philadelphia, two teams that began play with a combined total of seven fewer wins than the C’s. According to the team, Thomas suffered a right knee bone bruise in a battle under …

Hannaford to ugly produce –Looks are not everything

Last week Hannaford launched a pilot program offering discounted produce. Shoppers can now find a selection of “misfits” at a considerably reduced cost. Modern grocery stores have been known to perpetuate an unrealistic standard of beauty for our produce, resulting in an uncomfortable amount of food waste. Hannaford taking this …

Last week Hannaford launched a pilot program offering discounted produce. Shoppers can now find a selection of “misfits” at a considerably reduced cost. Modern grocery stores have been known to perpetuate an unrealistic standard of beauty for our produce, resulting in an uncomfortable amount of food waste. Hannaford taking this …

Winning at Life

I rarely go into convenience stores. When I do, it’s most likely to pay for gas or grab a gallon of milk. Every time I’m in there though, I’m behind someone buying or cashing in lottery tickets.  It doesn’t matter which convenience store I go to or what time of day …

I rarely go into convenience stores. When I do, it’s most likely to pay for gas or grab a gallon of milk. Every time I’m in there though, I’m behind someone buying or cashing in lottery tickets.  It doesn’t matter which convenience store I go to or what time of day …

Marchand has hat trick in 3rd; Bruins roll past Canucks 6-3

The Bruins forward was booed every time he touched the puck – and that only added to his motivation.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Brad Marchand relishes being the villain, especially in the city where he hoisted the Stanley Cup.

The Bruins forward scored a hat trick in the third period, including the winning goal with under eight minutes left, and Boston beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-3 on Monday night.

After tying the game on the power play 58 seconds into the third, Marchand stole the puck from Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin along the boards, stepped past Daniel Sedin and then deked through the legs of Alexander Edler before beating Canucks goalie Ryan Miller.

Loathed by Vancouver fans since the 2011 Stanley Cup Final that the Bruins won in Game 7 at Rogers Arena, Marchand was booed every time he touched the puck — jeers that only added to his motivation.

“That’s kind of when I get into it more and not a good idea for them,” said Marchand, who added an assist for a four-point night. “Lots of great memories in this building, so it is fun just to come in here and reminisce.

“When you have a night like that it just adds to those memories.”

Coming off a 37-goal campaign in 2015-16, Marchand now has 35 this season, tied with Sidney Crosby for tops in the NHL. Marchand is also tied with Crosby for second in the overall points race with 74, one back of Connor McDavid.

“This is a leader of our hockey team that knows the urgency of where we are in the season,” Bruins interim coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s pulled some guys along.”

David Backes, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci had the other goals for Boston, which got 26 saves from Tuukka Rask. Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak each added two assists.

The Bruins, who are 11-3-0 since Cassidy took over for the fired Claude Julien on Feb. 7, sit four points up on Toronto for third place in the Atlantic Division.

“We’re obviously in a tight playoff race and we need every single point,” Marchand said. “It was great that the team rallied and had a big third.”

Markus Granlund had two goals and Edler also scored for Vancouver. Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin each picked up two assists. Ryan Miller made 37 saves in his 700th NHL game.

“We didn’t battle and weren’t good enough defensively,” Granlund said. “That’s how you lose.”

The fading Canucks are 12 points back of St. Louis for the second wild card in the Western Conference.

“It was my mistake on the fourth (goal), which cost us the game,” Henrik Sedin said. “They played well the whole game. I don’t think we played well enough.

“We were lucky to be in it after the first,” he added. “It was a tight game, but still we didn’t play our best. We played too slow.”
Vancouver led 3-2 after 40 minutes, but Boston came out flying after the second intermission and tied it early in the third on a power play when Pastrnak threw the puck in front to Marchand, who fired his 33rd goal past a down-and-out Miller.

Granlund, who scored his goals in the first, had a good chance at a hat trick later in the period, but Rask made a pad stop to keep it tied before Marchand struck again with his solo effort with 7:57 left.

“He is determined and wants to get better with every area of his game,” Cassidy said. “He’s worked hard on his game. He deserves to be rewarded.”

Krejci put it out of reach with his 19th goal on a slick pass from Pastrnak at 16:46 before Marchand completed the hat trick with 25.5 seconds left into an empty net.

“It’s disappointing … really disappointing,” Canucks coach Willie Desjardins said. “We took a penalty at the end of the second and that hurt us going into the third. But saying that, we were still in a good enough position. We just didn’t finish that game.”

NOTES

The Canucks signed 20-year-old defenseman Jalen Chatfield of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires to an entry-level contract. … Ten players who took part in the 2011 series remain on the teams’ respective rosters — four from Vancouver and six from Boston. … After missing the Pittsburgh game with food poisoning, Granlund returned to the lineup alongside the Sedins. … Christopher Tanev, who like Granlund missed Saturday’s game with food poisoning, also sat out Monday.

UP NEXT
Bruins: At the Calgary Flames on Wednesday.
Canucks: End a five-game homestand by hosting the Dallas Stars on Thursday night.

Lewiston captures second straight Class A hockey title

LEWISTON, Maine — Seconds anyone? After an even first period, Lewiston dominated the second period and won its second straight Class A state championship, beating Falmouth 6-2 at Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Saturday. The Blue Devils (20-1) began the second period a man down, but they soon found themselves a …

LEWISTON, Maine — Seconds anyone? After an even first period, Lewiston dominated the second period and won its second straight Class A state championship, beating Falmouth 6-2 at Androscoggin Bank Colisee on Saturday. The Blue Devils (20-1) began the second period a man down, but they soon found themselves a …

Amid battle of the unbeatens, unified basketball’s true value emerges

HAMPDEN, Maine — A season-ending clash between two undefeated basketball teams battling for playoff position brought a good-sized crowd to Hampden Academy late Thursday afternoon. And the game lived up to whatever hype was generated by a look at the Heal Point standings, with the two-time defending state champion Broncos …

HAMPDEN, Maine — A season-ending clash between two undefeated basketball teams battling for playoff position brought a good-sized crowd to Hampden Academy late Thursday afternoon. And the game lived up to whatever hype was generated by a look at the Heal Point standings, with the two-time defending state champion Broncos …