Here we are in the middle of March and it feels more like the middle of February. While there are a few “glimpses” of spring in the 7 day forecast, most of it calls for below average temperatures. Meteorological spring started on March 1st but since then, 13 of the first 16 days of spring have been below average. So far this March has been as cold as a typical February.
The longer range forecasts aren’t offering much hope for a warm up. Both the 6 to 10 day and 8 to 14 day forecast have us outlooked for a high probability of below average temperatures overall from March 22nd through the end of the month.
By Meteorologist Richard Koeneman
The dusting of snow that fell across the Chicago area Saturday night early Sunday added another few tenths of an inch of the city’s already substantial cumulative seasonal snow totals. Snowfall amounts were mostly less than one-half inch. Two-tenths of an inch of new snow at O’Hare International Airport carried the official snow total for the 2013-14 snow season to 79.3 inches; 0.1 inch at Midway Airport brought the snow total at that location to 85.3 inches — tantalizingly close to the Chicago all-time record of 89.7 inches in 1978-79. That was the winter after which Chicagoans, frustrated by the miles of unplowed and impassible side streets and alleys in the city, handed maverick Democratic candidate Jane Byrne a victory in the April mayoral primary, from which she went on to victory in the general election. On occasion, winter weather can be a political force.
Is there any correlation between sunspots and the number of years we had relatively wimpy winters and the horrendous weather we had this year?
A direct link between solar sunspot activity and Chicago’s winter weather is doubtful. Sunspot activity varies through an 11-year cycle, but there are no corresponding cycles in Chicago’s winters. However, recent work by scientists at NOAA’s National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, suggests a possible link (in complex, subtle ways) between the tiny variations (0.1 percent) in solar energy output during the 11-year solar cycle and cooling of ocean waters in the tropical Pacific Ocean. La Nina events (sub-normal water temperatures) and El Nino events (warmer) could potentially be affected.
Northeast winds have strengthened this morning – gusting to near 40 miles per hour and that combined with temperatures ranging from the upper teens north to mid 20s south has resulted in widespread single-digit wind chills across the Chicago area this morning. A band of scattered light snow and flurries was oriented west-east over the I-88/I-80 corridor and slowly drifting south.
A cold Canadian-source high pressure air mass centered over Lake Superior was sinking south while a center of low pressure in Arkansas was tracking east – tightening the pressure gradient across the Midwest and creating the strong winds. Cloudiness should break up and winds let up today as the center of high pressure approaches from the north.
Winds Chills at 5:15AM CDT this morning
By Meteorologist Steve Kahn
March, known for its highly variable weather, can bring summerlike warmth or a wintry chill. This March, the city is still in the throes of winter, with highs Sunday struggling to reach the upper 20s and blustery northeast winds gusting to 30 mph.
But two years ago on March 16, the city was basking in an unprecedented stretch of 80-degree-plus warmth when the mercury soared to a record high 82. A hint of spring will return Tuesday as gusty south winds boost temperatures to near 50.
After a showery cold front passage, colder air will return Wednesday, with precipitation possibly ending as snow. Gusty southwest winds will bring another brief warmup Friday, along with a threat of showers and thunderstorms before Saturday temperatures drop readings back into the 30s.