Spring weather forecast up in the air

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Escanaba resident Odin Lee hits the slopes for some late-season snowboarding in Ludington Park Monday. After a brutal winter, today marks the first day of spring.

ESCANABA — After one of the area’s most brutal winters in recent memory, today marks the first day of spring — but the National Weather Service (NWS) is not yet sure what the next few months could hold in terms of temperatures and precipitation levels locally.

According to data recorded at the Escanaba Water Plant, 66.2 inches of snow had fallen during the winter of 2018-19 as of Monday. A total of 53 inches of snow fell during the winter of 2017-18, 29.7 inches fell during the winter of 2016-17, 34 inches fell during the winter of 2015-16, 41 inches fell during the winter of 2014-15 and 85.8 inches fell during the winter of 2013-14. These totals are based on snowfall from October through May.

“It definitely was a snowier year, especially in the latter half of February, than we’re used to,” said Jordan Wendt, a meteorologist for the NWS’ Marquette office.

Temperatures in late March should be relatively warm in the area, Wendt said.

“We’ll probably finish out the month with above-normal temperatures,” he said.

Snowfall and rain may also shy away from the area through the end of the month.

“So far, it looks relatively quiet in terms of precipitation,” Wendt said.

While some forecast models have shown a possibility precipitation-related activity will increase during the week of March 24, Wendt said it is still too early to be certain about this.

Looking further ahead, conditions have not been easy to predict. Wendt said the Climate Prediction Center’s three-month extended forecast for the area was last updated on Feb. 21.

“As of that timeframe … their predictions were for equal chances,” he said. This means the center believed the chances of local temperatures being above-normal, below-normal or near-normal in the coming months were roughly the same, as was the case for precipitation levels.