Weather: Winter seems to be waning
Maybe, just maybe, we've seen the worst of winter. After periodic snow showers throughout the last week and a morning low of 2 below zero on Friday, the end may be near.
The National Weather Service office in Grand Forks is calling for high temperatures to reach into the mid-50s during much of the upcoming week. Those temperatures would be 20 degrees warmer than average. Friday marked the first day of 2012 with an average high temperature above freezing. Unfortunately, we have to wait until April 23 to see an average low above freezing.
Looking back, this has been a very unusual winter. While no official seasonal snowfall totals seem to exist for Bemidji, a reasonable estimate is 22-28 inches has fallen this winter. This is approximately a foot below average.
We're not the only area of the country experiencing below-normal snowfall. Cities that experience lake-effect snow, such as Buffalo, N.Y. (50 inches below normal), Erie, Penn. (42 inches below normal), and Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. (26 inches below normal), have been unusually snow-free.
Here in the northwoods, we may lose track of what month we are actually experiencing. It likely will feel more like April for the next month. The National Weather Service's 30-day outlook suggests that temperatures will be much above normal throughout the rest of March. The same forecast also predicts the area will receive above-normal precipitation.
This represents quite a difference from past Minnesota Marches. Major snowstorms have frequently swept across the region in March. A particularly strong and widespread storm struck March 9, 1999, leaving 12-16 inches of snow throughout northern and central Minnesota. Those of you who are at least 142 years old may also remember the great snowstorm of March 14, 1870, when severe winds and heavy snow resulted in the first use of the term "blizzard" by the Vindicator newspaper in Estherville, IA.
TOM SIEMERS is the Pioneer's circulation director.