Spring arrives today, but it won't feel like it.
Today's high in Omaha may peak nearly 20 degrees below normal, part of a broader trend that could have chilly weather lingering into early April, according to AccuWeather Inc., The World-Herald's weather consultant.
Tom Kines, meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc., said a blocking pattern in the atmosphere above Greenland is preventing winter from loosening its grip in the central United States. The pattern is forcing Arctic air south into the country, he said.
“The blocking pattern is going to stay there, certainly through the end of the month,” Kines said. “Obviously it can't stay there forever. We think at some point in the first half of April, it's going to break.”
Kines noted that occasional warmups can occur between this time and early April but that temperatures aren't likely to climb much above normal and any spike will be short-lived.
Once the block breaks, Kines said, temperatures are likely to rise quickly. That's why, he said, the long-term outlook for spring calls for warmer-than-normal weather in this part of the country.
This year's colder than normal March stands in stark contrast to March 2012, the warmest March on record.
At this time a year ago, daytime highs in Omaha ranged from 60 to 84 degrees. The average high for today in Omaha is 53 degrees, while the average low is 30 degrees.
The good news for the Midlands' drought-parched landscape is that the current pattern also favors occasional bouts of rain or snow.
That could mean continued near-normal precipitation. That moisture won't be enough to break the drought, but it will encourage healthier plants.
“It could be worse,” Kines said.
Another piece of good news is that the continued cold will help prevent plants from becoming overconfident and budding out, only to be killed by a late freeze.
From Thursday through the weekend, there's a chance of snow in the Midlands, with the strongest possibility Saturday into Sunday, Kines said.
A second storm could follow a week later; however, much remains unknown about that system.
The heaviest precipitation with this weekend's storm is forecast to fall south of the Omaha area, so people traveling into Missouri and the southeast should pay close attention to forecasts and changing conditions, Kines said.
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