I like to say that March is the cruelest month in Syracuse and central New York. For long time residents, we know that the third month of the year can raise our hopes that spring is right around the corner then in a matter of hours dash them with snow and cold. We all get that. It is part of what we sign up for when we decide to live here. This March, however, is a bit different. I think the moment I came to that realization was earlier this week. I was in the middle of a school talk at Danforth School here in the city. At the point where I start talking about the sun’s rays heating the ground and warming us, I heard a voice off in the distance. It wasn’t one of the 5th graders, it was a teacher. She asked “When is the sun going to warm us and get us to Spring?” We are all a bit on edge at this point.
We all expect there to be cold and snow during the month of March. After all, the average snowfall for the month is about a foot and a half of snow. What keeps us going is those ‘teases’ we get reminding us that Spring is coming. You know, the days where we get into the 50s (or warmer) when the sun is out. I looked back and found so far this century during the month of March we average almost 9 days where we exceed 50 degrees and almost 4 days where we even get into the 60s. Of course, we all remember 2012 when we even had 80 degree warmth. This year, however, we’ve had only one day where we barely touched 50 degrees and that was promptly followed by a snowstorm the next day. Talk about pulling the rug out from underneath central New Yorkers!
As we head into the last week of March, lets see if we can find some glimmers of hope.
First, we need to get by an 800 lb gorilla in the room -- a doozy of an East Coast storm. The computer models have been emphatic that energy in the jet stream winds aloft now over western Canada will drop south into the eastern United States by Tuesday and spin up a deep storm over the Atlantic Ocean.
At this point, everything I’ve seen points toward this storm staying too far to our east to be a major player in our weather, however, it will have some impact. Notice there is some lighter snow on the GFS that stretches westward over us. Also, being it will end up as a strong storm (even if it only impacts coastal areas) it will cause a gusty breeze over us in the Tuesday to Wednesday time frame and that will keep colder air locked into central New York. Right now, our 7 day forecast has high temperatures 15 to 20 degrees below normal from Sunday into mid next week.
As we transition into the start of April, however, there is finally some hope. It is still far out in time for our computer models resolve (more than 10 days) so I try to stay away from too many details but for the first time this month I’m seeing the longer range model views (10 to 14 days out) giving up on the arctic cold. Here is the way the GFS ensembles show the change in temperatures from cold to warm at 5,000 feet from early this week into early April:
I don’t want to give a single date of when this will happen as it will probably change as the models try to resolve things that far out in time but I would say sometime between April 1 and 4th we should start to see a change to warmer weather here in central New York. So there may be some more cold weather in our short term future but at least there now seems to be a real “light at the end of the tunnel”