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Spring Officially Here, But Cold, Snow Not Going Anywhere Yet

By Terry Eliasen, Meteorologist, WBZ-TV Exec. Weather Producer
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BOSTON (CBS) – Ever have a party or get together at your house and there’s that one person who stays just a little too late?

Everyone else is long gone and at home in bed and you’re left making late night conversation with someone who just won’t take a hint. I think that is the perfect way to summarize how most New Englanders feel right now about Old Man Winter.

I mean seriously, enough, you have outstayed your welcome.  Take a bow, grab your stuff (snow, ice, cold) and don’t let the door hit you on the way out!

If only it were that easy.

Check: Current Conditions | Interactive Radar | WBZ Weather Blog

True, the calendar does say that spring arrived at 12:57 p.m. Thursday.  And, temperatures will soar past 50 degrees this afternoon and remain in the 40′s for the better part of the next several days. But, and you knew there was a “but” coming, Old Man Winter isn’t going anywhere fast.

As we look ahead to the next few weeks and even into next month, I am afraid I don’t have a lot of good news to report.

The reason for this persistent cold is a stuck pattern in the atmosphere.

For most of this winter, there has been a warm pool of ocean water witting just south of Alaska. This in turn, has caused a large ridge in the jet stream over Alaska and much of the western United States. So these locations have actually had a much drier and milder winter than average, exactly what they didn’t need in drought-stricken California.

Conversely, when there is a large ridge in the jet stream in one location there is going to be a big trough or dip somewhere down stream. That dip in the jet has been locked over the upper Midwest and northeastern United States nearly all winter.

This has resulted in many unusual occurrences:

  • The Great Lakes nearly reached a record for ice coverage, peaking at more than 92-percent earlier this month.
  • Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit all had top 3 snowiest winters.
  • Instead of cherry blossoms, Washington D.C. is getting snow.  Just two days ago they received nearly 6 inches.

Here at home, we are now in our fifth straight month of below normal temperatures.

What started way back in November seems to only be getting worse. Temperatures averaged 1.6 degrees below normal in January, 2.8 degrees below normal in February and, so far in March, a whopping 5.6 degrees below!

As of now this is the fifth coldest March in Boston’s recorded history. The other four years which were colder occurred in 1872, 1883, 1885 and 1916.

So, it has literally been nearly 100 years since we have been this cold.

Worcester has had it even worse! In fact, as of this writing, Worcester is currently experiencing their coldest March ever recorded, not exactly something you want to tell your grandkids about.

More sobering stats – Boston has hit 60 degrees just once all winter long, on March 11th, but we have had 33 days when the temperatures failed to reach the freezing mark!

Ok, so enough is enough. when do we get warm?

map1a1 Spring Officially Here, But Cold, Snow Not Going Anywhere Yet

Unfortunately, while we will have small stretches of above normal temperatures (such as Thursday), it looks like the overall atmospheric pattern is not going to change much in the coming weeks.

The outlook for the next 1-to-2 weeks: colder than normal for all of the Northeast.

The outlook for the month of April: colder than normal for all of the Northeast.

Might this be one of those years where we go right from winter to summer? I don’t think so.

map2a1 Spring Officially Here, But Cold, Snow Not Going Anywhere Yet

It looks like the warmup will be gradual for the most part. In fact, the outlook for the rest of the spring, beyond April, is for near “normal” temperatures. This is good news considering the amount of snow that is currently on the ground up north. If this were to all suddenly melt at once, that could cause some major river flooding. Right now the outlook is for a gradual melt and a gradual warming into May and June.

map3a1 Spring Officially Here, But Cold, Snow Not Going Anywhere Yet

And as for the snow, are we done? I doubt it.

Next week looks very cold and potentially stormy. In particular, we will be watching the midweek timeframe for the development of a large ocean storm. It’s still too early to say if it will be a hit or miss, but a hit could mean a significant amount of snow and longer delays for spring sports teams waiting to get on the fields.

Of course we are all familiar with the famous Mark Twain quote, “If you don’t like the weather in New England now, just wait a few minutes.”

Well, perhaps given this winter, we should change that to read “wait a few months.”

Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ

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