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Signs of spring plentiful in NW; Great Plains still battles winter

The early part of the week was very pleasant across the Inland Northwest. It certainly felt like spring on Monday and Tuesday as temperatures climbed into the 60s. There were even a few 70s reported in the region. But, as often is the case this time of year, the great weather was replaced by a cooler air mass that dropped our temperatures into the 50s in many areas.

Once again, a large high pressure system has built up over the western U.S., bringing us drier weather and warmer than normal temperatures, which has put a lot of smiles on the faces of Northwest residents. We have seen some recent rainfall from Pacific storms, but the high pressure ridge has weakened them to the point of only producing lighter showers. However, as we enjoy the great weather, conditions are not very good for those east of the Rockies.

Towns and cities in the northern Great Plains are enduring one of the worst winters in memory as colder-than-normal temperatures and heavy snows were reported in late March. Temperatures fell to below zero in Grand Forks, N.D., reaching -5 degrees on April 2. Since early October, Grand Forks has reported 96 mornings at or below zero. The previous record was 73 days set in 1978-79. By comparison, our region saw only three days with lows below zero this winter.

The winter of 2013-14 was the also coldest in Chicago. That part of the country has reported a whopping 23 arctic invasions compared to the old record of 13 arctic cold waves in 1978-79.

In Manitoba, , it’s been so cold that the province’s capital, Winnipeg, has been nicknamed Winterpeg. The average temperature from early December through late February was -5 degrees Fahrenheit. The ground is still frozen solid and may not even completely thaw at least until the late spring or summer.

Despite the current drier-than-normal weather pattern, things should start to turn wet by late April and continue into late May or early June. Don’t be surprised to see some snow in the higher mountains late this month. This increased moisture will also lead to more thunderstorms as the cooler Pacific air collides with the warmer air from the south.

Once we get through the spring, the summer looks warm to hot, especially in July and August.

If you have questions or comments, contact Mann at wxmann.