Spring is here, but cold weather is sticking around
There's no doubt it seemed like the worst winter ever.
Sub-zero temperatures. Frequent snowstorms. A snowpack that lasted into March with some piles that still haven't melted.
But while spring arrives today, the National Weather Service offers this assessment of the winter of 2013-14: average.
"This winter doesn't even crack the top 10," NWS meteorologist John LaCorte said Wednesday.
That's despite local temperatures that didn't get above freezing on a third of winter's 91 days - and temperatures that dipped below zero seven times, an occurrence that's far from average.
But LaCorte said this winter was merely a snap back to reality.
"We are very used to winters with no snow and being a little warmer," he said. "I've been working here for 20 years, and it's one of the worst winters I've encountered. (But) our records, dating back to the late 1880s, have recorded worse."
LaCorte said this winter was colder than recent years, but normal in terms of snowfall.
According to records compiled at the Aqua Pennsylvania Roaring Creek water treatment plant in Bear Gap, 26.9 inches of snowfall fell in the area this winter.
Still, several area school districts have had to extend their school years into June because they used up snow days, including in some cases for storms that never materialized. There were also a number of two-hour delays to keep students out of bone-chilling morning temperatures.
The coldest stretch of the year occurred between Jan. 3 and 9. During that time, the mercury reached a high of 49 degrees and dropped to a low of -4. The coldest high temperature in that stretch happened Jan. 7, when the high temperature was 3 degrees; the low was 1. The low the following day was zero.
There was no love on Valentine's Day this winter when the coldest temperature of the season was recorded Feb. 14 - eight below zero, according to the Roaring Creek records.
"We've been spoiled the last few years, so this winter we got dialed back to reality," LaCorte said.
No so fast
But today marks a new beginning when spring arrives at 12:57 p.m.
So, it's time for sunny skies and warmer temperatures, right?
Hold that thought, says LaCorte. It could take a while.
"Based on some of the reliable models we've been tracking, I really don't see a warm up coming," he said.
One of the telling signs meteorologists use is the Great Lakes, which helps to regulate the air mass that comes through Pennsylvania, LaCorte said. He said this winter, there was more ice cover on the lakes than in recent history.
"That doesn't bode well for a warm spring anytime soon," he said. "The sun may be getting higher in the sky, but the air moving through is not great."