March 20, 2014 at 9:52 AM ET
Spring, technically, is here. While it’s still snowing in parts of the Midwest, in Mountain View, Calif., home of Google, it’s expected to reach a balmy 71 degrees on Thursday.
Maybe that is why the character in the latest Google Doodle looks so happy. In a short, animated sequence, he waters colorful plants, marking the spring equinox.
So why does the spring equinox, or vernal equinox, mark the first day of spring? Because the Earth’s axis points neither towards nor away from the sun – meaning that Thursday is the closest that people in the Northern Hemisphere are going to get to having an equal number of hours in the night and day.
After that, the Earth’s axis will tilt towards the sun. The result: warmer weather and the end of a winter which brought all-time record low March temperatures to 18 states.
If you are still wearing a jacket, have a little hope. Spring as climate scientists define it — the last frost of the season — might come even to frigid areas of the United States as early as next week.