It's March 1st! It's spring!! Umm...kinda. It's the first day of meteorological spring. Doesn't really look like it outside with all the snow, but temperatures are pretty seasonable. The reason we start meteorological spring now instead of the 20th is because typically we see our weather transitioning closer towards the first of the month as opposed to later in the month. Example, next week we will have highs well above normal in the upper 40s to low 50s in Western Wisconsin. I mean record highs are now getting up well in the 60s. That's why we have our own dates for the beginning of each season.
Spring = March1st
Summer = June 1st
Fall = September 1st
Winter = December 1st
The end of winter may have ended on a wintry note, but all and all this was a very mild month. Check out this February temperature graph from the National Weather Service for Eau Claire.
The x-axis is the day of the month. The y-axis number is temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. The blue bars represent the observed temperature range each day. The top of the bar is the observed high temperature and the bottom of the bar is the observed low temperature. The green shaded are is the normal temperature range. The top of the green shaded area each day is the normal high temperature while the bottom is the normal low temperature. The red shaded area represents above normal high temperatures with the top of the area for each day the record high. The blue shaded area represents below normal low temperatures with the bottom of the area for each day the record low.
For example check out March 10th. On that day the observed high was above normal because it was in the red shaded area, and the observed low was actually average. This graph makes it easier to see the trends of the month when you compare the observed temperatures to normal and records all in one place.
Notice that the month doesn't have many below normal high or low temperatures. The average temperature for the month of February was a staggering 7.2 degrees above average. That's pretty significantly above average. There were 24 days in February that were above normal. Five of those days were at 40 degrees or higher. Our coldest high temperature was 18 degrees. There were no days below zero. Last year we had seven of those days. 2012 will be the 9th warmest February on record.
As far as precipitation goes, most of the month was dry pretty dry continuing the trend of the really the past several months. This month however, we finished above normal all thanks to the Leap Day storm. In the span of around 24 hours between the 28th and 29th we picked up 1.57" of liquid precipitation (if you account for all the various forms of precipitation all melted down). For the month, we picked up 1.82" with 86% of that being picked up in the last two days of the month. We finished the month over 1" above normal in precipitation. Crazy right! Ironic that we end meteorological winter with the most snow we've seen in Eau Claire along with many other areas the whole season.
So what does March have in store for us? Well we start out very gray and relatively cool. Some scattered snow showers will be going on through the weekend. No big storms though. It looks like the heavy snow potential will be in the eastern part of the state with this next storm Friday.
Beyond that we warm up nicely next week like I mentioned. In general the extended forecast looks quite warm. We may even see some thunderstorms down the road. However, the models have been less than reliable, so I wouldn't out rule the potential of another good snowfall before it gets too spring-like.