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Spring Beckons--Is Winter Completely Over?

BOSTON (CBS) -- The so-called meteorological winter ended on February 29th. For a fascinating review, check out Eric Fisher's Blog. After the recent warmest weather so early in the season, yielding record-smashing high temperatures, can we conclude that winter is completely over?


The overall weather pattern favors a warmer than average March and spring so it would seem that we are off the hook. Nevertheless, within some past warm springs, there have been a few crazy late season snow storms. The April Fool's Blizzard of 1997 occurred 1 year after Boston's previous all-time record seasonal snowfall of 107.6" in 1995-96. That record was broken last season at 110.6".

So can we conclude that a similar gargantuan snow blitz of 25.4" will occur one year later this time around in 2016? Absolutely not! However, it is interesting to note a remarkable coincidence that Boston's snowfall this season is 25.9" and the city's snowfall leading up to March 31, 1997 was 26.5"! It certainly cannot be ruled out but the odds are against a repeat.

The myriad of global factors that play a role in producing certain patterns and trends are not identical to those of 19 years ago. Of paramount importance are the approximate locations of the sea-surface temperature anomalies, and they do not all match. The positions of the Atlantic anomalies have not favored blocking this winter, but there are some clues that indicate an interval of increased blocking may develop.

Furthermore, New England will be close to a boundary that will trigger some stormy events in the next 2-3 weeks. Wavering steering currents will create changing storm tracks and they may not all be inside runners going forward. We shall see.

SAVE April Fools Storm
(WBZ-TV graphic)

Are you ready for spring? That is probably a ridiculous question for most people. I wonder how many others are dealing with split feelings like me. One side of me actually enjoyed the record-breaking warm December, featuring unbelievable temperatures near 70 around Christmas, plus the many other balmy days this winter--such as the 77-degree day last Wednesday, which was the warmest so early in the season!

At the same time, my other half, my better half, my alter ego, is cringing over this bizarre winter. Now I recognize how fortunate we are to have saved much money on heating our homes this year thanks to the warm weather and the much lower costs of heating fuels. Additionally, unlike last winter, little to no snow meant no ice dams and no damage to homes, plus, cities and towns have saved a great deal on snow removal.

I get it--and it's all very good, except for the plow guys, the snowmobile and snowblower and winter sports equipment dealers, and the all of the folks at the ski resorts who couldn't make a good living this year. It's not always rosy for everyone. There is always a flip side to every story and, as a forecaster, I learned more than 40 years ago that it is impossible to please all of the people all of the time.

The WBZ AccuWeather Team's forecast for this winter called for less than half of the amount of snow of last winter. However, we had expected that more storms would be coastal huggers, resulting in more snow for ski country. Instead, more inside runners materialized--so most of northern New England and ski country has been in a snow drought!

Consequently, snowmobilers and nordic skiers were cheated out of a winter. Most non-snowmaking slopes and glades were closed all season! Fortunately, a few bouts of cold weather enabled resorts to produce a decent amount of machine-made snow. Then, to add insult to injury so to speak during this very warm winter, there was that freaky coldest Valentine's Weekend on record that kept folks off the trails.

All in all, for us in this minority, after a disappointing non-winter, it's tougher to accept the inevitable arrival of summer comprised of some tropical heat waves and nasty annoying severe thunderstorms plus the assorted lovely flies, ants, bees, mosquitoes, ticks and crickets. I honestly wish I could embrace summer as much as I embrace winter. I really do. For most of you, you've had an easy open winter, your favorite season is coming and I am happy for you.

By the way, global factors are flashing a hotter-than-average summer ahead.

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