The first day of spring is here. It also marks the end of winter. Though it was the fourth-warmest winter in the United States since record-keeping began 117 years ago. In accord with the unusual weather, this turn of the season brings us snow in Arizona and Saudi Arabia, while conditions remain sunny and warm in America’s Northeast and Western Europe. Collected here are scenes from around the world as a strange winter gives way to spring. [53 photos] Click on any photo to download, share or print the high resolution version
For once, the calendar and the weather in New Haven are in agreement: today is the first day of spring. Students in their first week back from spring break took full advantage of the sunny sky and 68-degree temperature this afternoon. Among them were this group of hockey and lacrosse players who fired up the grill on the Old Campus.
A boy practices T'ai chi before snow-covered trees in Beijing, on March 18, 2012. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)
Artist Janet Frankovic paints a blooming dogwood tree in Sligo Creek Park in Silver Spring, Maryland, on March 15, 2012.(Reuters/Gary Cameron)
The statue of Civil War veteran General Winfield Scott Hancock is seen trough cherry blossoms at Scott circle in Washington, D.C., on March 17, 2012. The iconic trees are beginning to bloom, with the National Park Service forecasting peak bloom between March 20 and 23, one of the earliest years on record due to warmer than average temperatures. (Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images)
A Japanese samba dancer walks in the snow after performing to commemorate the opening of a temporary local shopping complex at Shizugawa district in Minamisanriku town, northern Japan, on February 25, 2012. Small merchants that were affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami were resuming their businesses in prefabricated buildings. (Reuters/Yuriko Nakao)
Canada geese fly over a partially frozen lake in Pembroke, New York, on March 5, 2012. (AP Photo/David Duprey)
Rapeseed plants ready for harvest in Luoping, Yunnan province, China, on March 15, 2012. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
A flower blossoms in front of the Reichstag, the seat of Germany's lower house of parliament, on a sunny spring day in Berlin, on March 16, 2012. (Reuters/Thomas Peter)
Palle-Jooseppi, a male brown bear at Ranua Zoo, wakes up after winter hibernation in Ranua, Finland, on February 23, 2012. (Reuters/Kaisa Siren/Lehtikuva)
A couple holds hands as they stroll along the beach in the fog at Greenwich Point on the first day of spring, Tuesday, March 20, 2012.