After such a brutal winter (or terrific winter, depending on your preference), the month of March is already shaking up the weather scene. Most of the snow is finally melting, and the only remaining signs of the winter storms this season are a few patches of white scattered about shady areas and downed trees and limbs. If current indications are correct, we may actually be able to get rid of all of the snow pack by the weekend. And you'll have great weather for cleaning up the tree limbs, too!
Temperatures soared well into the 50s Saturday, but breezes still kept a chill in the air if you were in the shade. Sunday, highs reached 60 and the wind relaxed a bit. Sometimes weather changes bring on conflicting opinions for us. I seriously doubt anyone has a problem with our well-deserved break that continues this week!
Have you ever heard the phrase "snow begets snow" There is actually some truth to that. You see, when we have a decent amount of snow on the ground, it actually can make the temperature colder. On a sunny day, the radiation the sun sends through the atmosphere hits the ground -- or whatever is on the ground. And instead of warming bare ground and heating up during the day, the sun's energy has to first go to the task of melting the snow. This leaves less energy for warming the temperature.
Also, snow is white and reflects light radiation more than a bare yard would. The radiation and light is reflected, again taking a punch out of our ability to warm up.
Computer models do not have to ability to consider the above scenarios. Every once and a while, a storm system in the winter will be forecasted my the models as rain. Yet snow pack and the lack of radiation above the ground can keep the temperature just cold enough to allow for snow and ice instead of rain.
This may very well have been one of the many factors that allowed for the high frequency of winter storms and even the smaller little "events" of freezing rain and sleet we were witnesses to this winter. I wouldn't say that this played a huge role in our winter, but these local effects of a smaller scale can make a slight difference in what kind of weather we actually get.
Just as snow begets snow, dry and warm ground can act to prolong a temperature trend. Dry air is in place now, and the lack of moisture in the air (water vapor) yields fast and dramatic temperature changes. This is why our mornings have been so cold, only to be followed only hours later by spring-like temperatures.
Also keep in mind that we are getting closer and closer to the start of spring. The sun is higher in our sky now, and the days are getting longer. The sun's radiation is essentially more direct. For fans of the warm weather, think of it as getting more bang for your buck!
Southerly winds and high pressure will keep us sunny Tuesday. Expect middle 60s for highs! By the end of the week, a series of storm systems will near us and bring rain by Wednesday and Thursday. Despite the incoming clouds and rain, the track of the system will keep us warm all week.
All that said, remember that March is a month of transition. There will be periods when the cold will return. Even into April, I wouldn't be surprised to see a couple of wet snows before we get into the "all clear" in the middle part of April.
In the meantime, enjoy the spring preview this week!