What an amazing March we’re experiencing so far. Last year we were entering a stretch of unseasonably mild weather with 74 degrees on the 13th followed by 70s on four of the next five days. But the warming only intensified and we had four consecutive days in the 80s (19th – 22nd) with mainly 60s and 70s through the end of the month. March 2013 couldn’t be more opposite, now running 115 degrees below normal (-9 degrees per day) and there are only a few mild days showing up over the next two weeks.
Our atmospheric pattern is once we haven’t seen in quite some time, but it’s something we’ll see more often in the coming years. We have a jet stream (storm-steering winds around 18,000 feet) that is much further south than usual. Since the jet stream is found between and fueled by the battle of cold air to the north and warmer air to the south, when it’s further south we have colder air nearby. Because of that, every passing storm can pull much colder air into the Ohio Valley than we might see with a jet stream further north.
Look at the upper-level winds last March compared to this March. Last year at this time, we had a big storm out west pumping warm air northward across the eastern two-thirds of the nation. This year the jet stream winds are dipping south bringing cold air into the same area that was so warm in 2012.
Storm systems are lined up across Canada and into the Pacific Ocean and each one will impact our weather over the next two weeks. There is also a block (high pressure) in the upper atmosphere near Greenland, so storms crossing the eastern United States slow down and get turned north into southeast Canada. Since they can’t just move east into the Atlantic Ocean their effects are felt here longer, so we stay colder.
Today’s weather models show no change and aside from some brief warming over the next few days, we have a rather cold pattern continuing, likely through the end of March.
A weak storm will head our way for late Thursday with increasing clouds followed by rain showers or sprinkles by Thursday evening. As cold air gets pulled south Thursday night the rain showers will change to flurries, but this is a weak, fast-moving weather system so there won’t be any problems for Friday morning’s rush hour.
On Friday we’ll enjoy warmer air as southwest winds push highs into the lower 50s. That sounds warm compared to where we are now (and it is), but the low 50s are normal for this time of year. We’re so cold that just getting normal temperatures sounds great.
Just as the warmth arrives a new storm will follow and we can expect rain Friday night into Saturday morning, and then slightly cooler air on Saturday (upper 40s) and even colder air on Sunday (highs in the low 40s) as a second storm passes just south of us during the day.
A third storm may be trouble for our area on Monday. Models are showing a rapid warm-up (highs in the 60s) followed by showers and thunderstorms and a change to much colder air (highs in the 30s) next Tuesday. If today’s guidance is correct, we may have severe thunderstorms Monday afternoon and evening, and this kind of storm will produce a lot of rotation in the atmosphere, so tornadoes will be possible, along with large hail and damaging winds.
What a difference a year makes.
Keep your eyes on the sky and enjoy the changing weather!
Skyeye Weather LLC