Weather: Tsunami to blame for warm winter?
Remember Accuweather, the online private weather organization?
They're the ones who last October predicted the Midwest would experience a "brutally cold and snowy" winter.
As partial explanation for being so far off, they are now citing the far-fetched idea that involves debris from the Japan tsunami of a year ago.
According to Accuweather news director Henry Margusity, the tsunami's debris field is sending warm air into the atmosphere above the Pacific Ocean, possibly contributing to the warm winter we experienced.
So, why was this past winter actually so warm? The National Weather Service Forecast Office in Grand Forks offers several more rational explanations.
The Bermuda High, a semi permanent area of high pressure located south of the Azores Islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean, developed farther north than usual leading to a persistent warm southerly flow of air into the north woods.
Another factor was the lack of snow cover for much of the winter. Bare ground with its relatively dark soils is able to absorb solar radiation that would otherwise have been reflected into space had the ground been snow-covered.
Finally, the National Weather Service cites positive arctic oscillation which confined significantly colder temperatures to north of the Arctic Circle.
The unusual warmth became even more dramatic in March. The average high for the month in Bemidji was 50. This compares to a normal March high of 36. The average low for the month was 27 - approximately 9 degrees colder than normal.
Looking ahead, the upcoming week should feature temperatures falling back to those more typical of early April. High temperatures early in the week will be in the lower 40s with highs later in the week topping out around 50.
The National Weather Service short term forecast mentions the likelihood of rain showers Saturday and Sunday and even mentions the possibility of some light snow mixing in early Sunday morning.
TOM SIEMERS is the Pioneer's circulation director.