Spring? Enjoy it this weekend

Mar. 29, 2013 @ 04:26 PM

April’s fooling with us — it still doesn’t feel like spring.

Yes, Easter weekend will be reasonably pleasant, with high temperatures in the mid-60s today and even in the low 70s on Easter Sunday and Easter Monday, which this year also happens to be April Fools’ Day.

But just wait till we hit the rest of the week.

From Tuesday through Friday, the high temperatures won’t be very high at all — just barely into the 50s. Overnight temperatures Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights will be right around freezing, not very helpful to those new plants you put out.

In spring. In April.

What’s going on here?

“Right after the weekend, there’s a strong cold front coming in,” said Darin Figurskey, a meteorologist with the Raleigh office of the National Weather Service. “It’s going to stay with us a bit and push our temperatures down close to 10 degrees below normal for this time of year.”

By the end of the week, Figurskey said, “we should start to rebound a bit,” with high temperatures at least climbing into the 60s.

The meteorologist pointed out that roller-coaster weather, with extreme transitions from cold-to-warm-to-cold is not all that unusual for early April.

But what is unusual, he said, is how chilly March has been.

“We’ve had during the month really prolonged cold and a very chilly pattern,” Figurskey said. “That’s not at all typical for March.”

In fact, as of the end of this work week, this March has been one of the coldest in local history.

The month also has been unseasonably cold across the Midwest and in Europe, too, and some climate scientists have linked the bitter spring weather to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice. 

Satellite records published this week by the National Snow and Ice Data Centre in Boulder, Colo, show the extent of the ice is close to the minimum ever recorded for this time of year. Researchers have hypothesized that the Arctic ice loss adds heat to the ocean and atmosphere which shifts the position of the jet stream and allowing cold air from the Arctic to plunge much further south.

Whatever the cause, the average local temperature so far for this month is 51.7 degrees. That’s 7.4 degrees below average and makes this March the fifth coldest one on record for the Triangle and the coldest since 1969.

And to make it feel even cooler, as of now, this past January was actually, on average, a tenth of a degree warmer.

“At least it will be warm for Easter,” Figurskey said.