A tale of two MarchesPublished 8:27am Sunday, March 17, 2013
High schoolers put on shorts, tee shirts and running shoes and enjoyed the sunshine on March 15 — of last year, that is.
This year, that didn’t happen by a longshot in Austin, as the high reached 37 degrees on Friday, according to the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis. That’s exactly half the temperature of March 15, 2012. NWS meteorologists say the rest of March could be more on the end of lion instead of lamb, too.
“It looks like at least the next 14 days the outlook is below normal temperatures with slightly above normal chance of precipitation,” said NWS meteorologist Zack Taylor.
Much of the cold stems from the fact the ground is still frozen, and snowpack is insulating that cold. That didn’t happen last year, as temperatures crept into the 70s in mid March with no snow in sight. This year, however, the cold air keeps coming.
“We’re dealing with a persistent trough of low pressure across much of the eastern half of the country,” Taylor said, and added the system keeps drawing cold air from Canada.
Taylor said temperatures should creep back toward seasonal normals sometime into April. For now, though, keep the winter coats within reach.
According to NWS records, St. Patrick’s Day of 2012 reached 78 degrees. This Sunday, expect 29, the coldest St. Patrick’s Day in a while.
More snow doesn’t end drought
This winter has been much snowier than last year’s, which is almost good news for drought stricken soils.
Precipitation to date is only teasing the ground’s thirst, and far from quenching it, according to the National Weather Service in La Crosse, Wis. The drought, which officially began in August 2011, remains in full swing. Since that time until now, the region should have received at least 50 inches of rain, according to the NWS. However, it has only received 30.4 inches.
This March is much snowier than 2012’s, at 9.4 inches compared to just 0.1. Furthermore, there has been a lot more snowfall from January to mid march this year — 21.3 inches compared to 12.6 in 2012. However, the actual liquid amount is fairly close at 3.88 inches compared to 3.08 inches in 2012.
For those who are sick of the snow, though, NWS officials don’t expect much more in the next week.
Much of the Midwest remains in severe to extreme drought, just below the highest rating of exceptional drought, which blankets Nebraska, Kansas and parts of Oklahoma, Colorado, Wyoming and South Dakota, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. The southwestern portion of Mower County is in extreme drought, according to the same scale, which was released on Thursday.
The ground remains frozen with deep frost, so recent snowmelt has pooled in fields, re-frozen or ran into rivers and washed away.
The Climate Prediction Center says drought conditions could improve as spring moves on; however, above-normal temperatures this summer could later intensify the drought, as well.