Wet snow dusted colder outdoor surfaces Friday in parts of the Chicago area—at times reaching a depth of 0.5”. But, it didn’t last long. Total snowfall in south suburban Plainfield reached 1.5”—the heaviest reported in northern Illinois. But, the warm ground and above-freezing temperatures meant the snow melted nearly as fast as it fell. The same was true at Midway Airport where little of the 0.7” stuck. Chicagoans have shivered through one of the 32 chilliest March 1-25 periods on record, boosting the need for home heating by an estimated 27 percent over the same period last year. Seventy-six percent of days this month have been below normal, and only five Marches have been cooler to date since 1970.
Meteorological springs in Chicago have warmed slowly but steadily since the 1930s, according to March-May readings by decade at Midway Airport. Springs in the 1990s averaged more than 2-degrees warmer there than those in the 1930s.
Wet snow is in the air again Friday. But, above freezing ground temperatures are likely to limit accumulations to colder outdoor surfaces, i.e. grassy areas, some sidewalks, less traveled roads, etc. And, even these accumulations should be marginal—a far cry from the 70” of snow measured with this storm since Saturday at the 9,600 ft. level near Alta Collins, Utah. The system’s snowfalls topped 20” in parts of Colorado, Wyoming and Utah.
The long spate of cold days here this month has pushed thoughts of thundery spring weather aside. It’s one reason many Midwesteners may be surprised to learn that the 2005 U.S. tornado and severe weather season is off to an active start. Reports of twisters across the country are nearly twice those recorded by this time a year ago. History indicates April often marks the beginning of Chicago’s highest severe weather risk period.