OSCODA – This winter’s brutally cold temperatures are here to stay for February, according to meteorologists with the National Weather Service (NWS) in Gaylord, with colder than average temps lasting throughout March.
Meteorologist Jeff Lutz said although spring is right around the corner, this March will not be as warm as usual according to average spring temperatures. He based his prediction on climate predictions that are issued by the NWS in Washington, D.C.
Lutz acknowledged that the area has enjoyed a relatively mild winter until the recent “arctic blast” settled over the area leaving subzero temperatures and bringing snow accumulations.
Over the weekend the county saw snowfall accumulations adding to the bitter cold. According to data collected in the East Tawas area from the NWS “NOWData” collection site, over a two-day period, six inches of snow fell over the East Tawas area. Snowfall was similar in the Oscoda area, according to observations, with around nine inches of total snow on the ground right now.
Lutz said the jet stream is a huge factor as to why we are receiving the extreme cold weather, which has – as of Monday – dipped down into areas as far south as Texas bringing winter storms and record cold temperatures into the teens. For example, early Monday morning areas such as Austin, Texas had a temperature of 18 degrees.
“If you think of the atmosphere as a big ocean, with currents going through it, the jet stream divides things between hot and cold air,” Lutz said, adding that the stream has a tendency to “slosh around” and meander.
“Sometimes it can get stuck in a particular pattern, that is what happened in the first two and a half months of winter from November to December and into early January,” said Lutz, adding that during that time the cold air plunge from the arctic circle was centered on Siberia and not North America. He said, however, when the jet stream finally moved it forced the cold air down over the Midwest of the United States and Canada.
Although the weather pattern has changed over the course of a week, with the jet stream dipping well into Texas, Lutz said earlier in the month the Great Lakes region was just on the periphery of the jet stream, and the Great Lakes (which were yet to be frozen over) were protecting the state from being as extremely cold as some parts of the Midwest, further west from Michigan.
“The Great Lakes have been open for so long, that they have helped us, as they still have a lot of warmth still left in them.
As stated before, Lutz said that according to NWS climatology data from Washington, the next six weeks looks like colder than average temperatures for the rest of winter and into spring.
We’re looking at a cool start for spring looking ahead,” he said. “We have already hit the bottom of the normal, average temperatures per day, they bottomed out in January and February, but we are seeing all the averages creeping up.
Lutz said that although he said spring will be colder than normal, that does not mean that February’s current subzero temps will extend into the spring.
When you see people saying ‘it’s going to be colder than normal,’ it’s not going to be brutally cold, but the longer we go the more the temperatures begin to rise, you will be below normal temps compared to the averages,” he said.
As far as snowfall, Lutz predicted above normal snowfall for the rest of the winter; he said February had already tracked for above-average snowfall for the year. He said earlier this winter was deceiving because we did get more than average snowfall, but with warmer temperatures the snow that did fall, melted away relatively quickly.
More detailed forecasts and a wealth of weather data can be found by visiting the NWS at www.weather.gov.