This miserable winter is refusing to let go.
Record to near-record cold returns this weekend, with subzero morning temperatures likely and daytime highs limited to the single digits and teens. Snow returns, and although totals are in flux, you probably will need your shovel.
Anyone traveling should monitor conditions and be aware that the forecast could change.
The forecast for the Omaha-Council Bluffs metropolitan area for the next few days:
Friday: An inch or less of snow in the afternoon, possibly preceded by sleet. The commute should be manageable because temperatures in the 20s to around 30 degrees will allow street de-icer to be effective.
Friday night: Snow diminishes, temperatures drop to single digits. Windy.
Saturday: Morning low around 6 degrees and wind chills of 10 below zero or lower. Snow expected to resume by the afternoon. Winds gust to nearly 25 mph. Temperatures peak in the low to mid-teens.
Saturday night: Snow could continue, but likely will be tapering off. Lows drop below zero.
Sunday: Record cold with highs in the single digits. Diminishing chance of snow.
Source: Dave Fobert, National Weather Service
Record low possible
The odds favor colder-than-normal weather at least into mid-March, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
Although this winter has been very cold, nothing about it has been extraordinary in Omaha.
Temperatures in Omaha can drop below zero well into the third week of March, according to the National Weather Service. The latest date that Omaha has recorded a below-zero reading is March 20. In 1876, the city's temperature dropped to 4 below zero on that date, the weather service said.
This weekend, Omaha's lows are forecast to be in the single digits Saturday morning and below zero from Sunday morning through at least Tuesday morning. The temperature on one of those mornings could set a record. Record lows for that time period in Omaha range from 4 below zero to 13 below.
The most likely record to fall is Sunday's daytime high, although readings on other days could threaten records. Sunday's high is forecast in the single digits. The record for the date is 13 degrees.
The average high in Omaha at the beginning of March is 44 degrees and the average low is 23 degrees.
It's been a rough winter
What has made this winter so rough is that it has been one of the worst in recent memory.
Paul Walker, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said this is Omaha's third-coldest winter in the past 15 years. The past three months have had more below-zero temperatures than any other winter during that time. This winter, Walker said, Omaha has had 19 days with below-zero temperatures.
The worst winter in the past 15 years was 2009-10, according to Walker. That winter was the coldest during those 15 years, had more than three times this winter's snowfall and set an Omaha record for consecutive days with snow on the ground.
Barbara Mayes, a weather service meteorologist who has co-created a new index for analyzing winter weather, said the past three months in Omaha have been near average. Omaha's unusual cold has been balanced out by a relative lack of snow, she said.
Mayes collaborated with Steve Hilberg, a meteorologist at the Midwest Regional Climate Center, to develop the index for analyzing the severity of winter dating to 1950. Mayes is stationed in Nebraska and forecasts weather for the Omaha area, while Hilberg is stationed in Illinois.Their Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index looks at low temperatures and snowfall.
The analysis gained national attention this week when it was used to conclude that the Great Lakes region has seen its worst winter, or nearly so, since 1950. According to the index, Detroit is in the midst of its worst winter, while Chicago, Philadelphia, Moline, Ill., and Indianapolis have had their third-worst winters.
Kristin McCormick's post on The World-Herald's Facebook page sums up the way most people feel about Omaha's winter. She wrote that she's done with the bitter cold, dirt, gravel and salt on the streets, brown grass and bare trees, and bundling up every time she leaves the house.
“I want green grass, green plush trees, pretty flowers, flip flops, clean cars and having my kids play outside until it's dark,” she posted.
Spring arrives, at least according to the calendar, on March 20.