Where's the warmth?

Mother Nature must have missed the memo that spring begins Wednesday.
Marie Havenga
Mar 19, 2013

She continues her cold-shoulder ways with forecast highs only in the 20s and 30s for the rest of the week.

While Mama Nature chills, all we can do is bask in warm memories of last year at this time when the solar furnace stoked temperatures into the 80s for a nine-day stretch.

Grand Haven's high a year ago today was 81. We were pedaling on bike paths, strolling sandy beaches, working in our yards and grilling burgers on the patio.

Today, it's tip-toeing toward 30 with boots on. We're scraping snow off driveways, watching lake-effect swirls on the beach, trying to remember what our yards look like and simmering hot soup on the stove.

Is it considered an extreme sport when the mercury free-falls more than 50 degrees?

Meteorologist Brandon Hoving of the National Weather Service in Grand Rapids said last year's temperatures are a rare breed.

“We started with a really warm stretch last March that began on the 14th,” Hoving said. “That was the earliest we had ever hit 80 in a calendar year. It was a very significant accomplishment as far as high temperature goes. That warm streak lasted until the 22nd of March.”

But not so this year. A lake-effect snow advisory is in effect through late tonight, with up to 4 inches of snow, winds gusting to 40 mph or more and slippery roads.

“What a difference a year makes,” said Hoving, who last year at this time was wearing shorts and working in his yard. Today, he's wearing a warm sweater.

“Last year was about 40 degrees above normal," he said. "Now, we're 15-20 degrees below normal. It's a significant difference for sure. It's an extreme swing in temperatures.”

Last March ended 15.1 degrees above normal. Hoving expects this month's mark to fall several degrees below normal.

“We're already a few degrees below normal,” the meteorologist said. “This week will add significantly to that with high temps only reaching the 20s Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures will start to moderate toward the end of the week, but I think it will still be below normal overall.”

When can we roll up our sleeves and sip soda in the sunshine?

“From what we can see over the next couple of weeks, it's a fairly cool pattern we're going to be stuck in," Hoving said. "It may take until the end of the month before we start getting into the 50s.”

The three-month forecast from the Climate Prediction Center is more optimistic. They predict warmer-than-normal temperatures for March, April and May.

“Whether we turn it around in April remains to be seen,” Hoving said. “We can always get a warm May that can kind of tip the scales.”

The meteorologist’s advice for Tribune readers?

“People hoping for warm weather — don't give up,” he said. “This is just March."

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