Winter won’t release us from its icy grip

FAIRMONT – This week is Severe Weather Awareness week in Minnesota, but the main weather story is still focused on winter storms.

“It seems the closer we get to warmer weather, it always end up getting away from us,” said KEYC-TV meteorologist Mitch Keegan.

Keegan said the cold and wet spring can be blamed on a high pressure system stationed over Greenland.

“We have two branches of the jet stream,” Keegan explained. “Normally by now, we’re being influenced by the warmer jet stream, but it’s locked down to the south, so we’re being affected by the colder stream and this series of storms.”

And while this year is closer to normal for spring in Minnesota, it may just feel colder after the rare warm spell last year.

“We’re coming off last year, which was odd because it was so warm,” Keegan said. “March was more normal [this year]; April is a little more atypical because we usually can still pick up an inch of snow, but usually not 3-6 inches.”

Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of sunshine in the forecast. The long-range outlook from the Climate Prediction Center is still forecasting below-average temperatures and above-average precipitation for the remainder of April.

“To put a positive spin on this, it is helping with the drought, even though it’s in the fluffy white form,” Keegan said. “The ground has defrosted enough to soak up this precipitation, and temperatures show that the first 6 inches of the ground have thawed, and as we see more moisture, it helps with the thaw.”

So far, 2013 has been above average for precipitation, but there is still a way to go for full drought relief.

“You need to go back to when the drought began in August 2011,” Keegan said. “We’re still 20 inches below average.”

When asked if climate change is playing a role in the drastic weather changes, it’s a yes and no answer.

“There is some human influence, but as I’ve studied meteorology I’ve learned there are weather cycles that are every 100 to 150 years. So it does seem like we’re seeing more extremes,” Keegan said.

Some good news for those wanting the spring sunshine is that the Climate Prediction Center is predicting above-average temperatures for May, June and July.

“But as I’ve been telling people, I’m in prediction, not production,” Keegan said.