DutchAmsterdam.nl — March in Amsterdam, as in all of the Netherlands, is characterized by erratic weather. But the old joke that Holland has four seasons a day is more likely to make sense in March than in any other month.
But first… on Tuesday, March 5, Amsterdam saw temperatures up till 15°C (59°F) — our first day of Spring-like weather this year, with lots of sun.
Unfortunately, it lasted just one day, and five days later Winter weather returned with light to moderate frost, and some significant snow showers.
Since then we’ve had grey, rainy, drizzly and cold days.
Now, according to the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI) it isn’t unusual to have frost and snow in March, but it is unusual to have lengthy periods of snowfall and ice days (by which they means days on which the temperature is below freezing all day long).
But good grief… Holland had more days of frost in March than in January. And the weather folks say that the last ten days of March will go into history as the coldest since official weather record have been kept (more than 100 years ago).
Normally in March you can expect lots of relatively brief showers in Holland, and temperatures between 1°C and 10°C (33.8°F and 50°F).
On average it will snow somewhere in Holland on 4 days this month. Hail can be expected on 3 days, and a thundershower on 1 day.
Holland is no stranger to extreme weather. In March 2005 a temperature of -20,7°C (-5°F) was measured in Marknesse, north-east of Amsterdam.
But while night frost is common, particularly in the first half of the month, the average daytime temperature ranges from 4°C (39°F) at the start of the month to 8°C(46°F) at the end.
On average there are 3 days during which the temperature reaches about 15°C (59°F).
What kind of weather you will encounter is the luck of the draw, but it can range from dull, drab and cold to bright, sunny and ‘warm’ — for the time of the year, that is.
This is the month that cafè terraces will include higher numbers of Amsterdam locals rather than just tourists willing to brave the cold for the experience.
Mind you, a Dutch rhyme goes, “Maart roert zijn staart” — March wags its tail. It’s a reference to the fact that while Spring starts on March 20, the weather can still be very cold and winterly even at the end of the month.
On average March has 5 days during which the sun isn’t seen at all. That said, the sun is out 33% of the time that it can shine (compared to 33% – 43% April through August).
Amsterdam Weather Facts: March
• Average lows: 1.1° C (34° F)
• Average highs: 8.8° C (48° F)
Sunrise & Sunset
• March 1 – 7:28 a.m. / 6:19 p.m
• March 31 – 7:19 a.m. / 8:12 p.m. (See ‘Central European Summer Time‘)
• Average: 66 mm (2.6 inches) in 72 hours
- Cold days with sunny weather are perfect for taking photos with bright, vivid colors. With the trees still bare you have good views of the gabled canal-side houses. Grey and rainy days are perfect for experimenting with black & white photography.
- As the month progresses the days grow longer. At the end of March the sun doesn’t set until about 8:15 p.m.
- While you will likely need an umbrella, there’s no need to pack one. Get yourself a cheap ‘throw away’ brolly at Etos, HEMA, or a souvenir shop.
- On clear, sunny days join Amsterdammers and your fellow tourists by having a drink or two at a café terrace.
What to wear in Amsterdam in March
You’ll want to pack warm clothes, including sweaters, long-sleeved sweats, and a winter proof coat or jacket.
Warm socks and/or padded insoles are not a luxury.
Daylight Saving Time / Summer Time
At 2:00 am CET (Central European Time) / 2:00 am CUT (Coordinated Universal Time1) on the last Sunday in March (2013: March 31), the Netherlands switches to Central European Summer Time (known in the U.S. as Daylight Saving Time) — which means the clock jumps forward by 1 hour.2
Summer time ends at 2:00 am CEST (Central European Summer Time3) on the last Sunday of October (2013: Oct. 27).
In other words:
- In Amsterdam on March 25, 2012 at 2:00 am the clocks will move forward to 3:00 am.
- That means you lose one hour of sleep (or partying). You get this hour back on the last Sunday of October.
- If you fail to adjust your clocks, you will show up for appointments one hour too early.4
A historical note
Last year, in 2012, we had a mild winter, albeit with an unusual period of frost at the beginning of February. Few people complained about the frost. Instead, in Amsterdam — as elsewhere in Holland — people took advantage of the fact that the canals froze over for the first time in many years.
This is how Amsterdam in winter time looked from the air last year.
The winter of 2013 was snowy and cold, certainly in March.
- Coordinated Univesal Time (UTC) is often casually interchanged with Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) but there are some differences, particularly when considering fractions of a second ↩
- An easy way to remember whether the time moves forward or backward is phrase: “Spring forward; Fall backward” or “Spring ahead; Fall behind” ↩
- Some tourist guides refer to Central European Daylight Saving Time (CEDT) instead of Central European Summer Time (CEST) to avoid confusion with Central European Standard Time (CEST). Makes sense… ↩
- The clocks on computers, mobile phones and various gadgets will usually adjust by themselves. Make sure you adjust other clocks and watches yourself. Yes, you can do so before you go to bed. ↩
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