Is the U.S. stuck in a winter weather rut?

It’s March. This is the beginning of meteorological Spring, but for most of the country, it doesn’t feel like Spring.

In fact, snow trekked across the country during the first days of the month, and most places are experiencing temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below where they should be.

The entire country has been stuck with the same weather pattern since December. Early on in the season, the jet stream transitioned to a meridional flow.

That means instead of moving in a general west to east direction, the jet stream is instead traveling more north and south as it travels around the world.

For this particular winter, the jet stream has been well to the north across a western third of the country, leaving it mild and dry there. The rest of the country, however, has seen the jet stream dip well to the south, unleashing multiple bitter cold arctic outbreaks.

Snow much worse

All the snow has only lengthened these cold air outbreaks. Snow is a very reflective surface, and when the ground is covered in it, most of the warmth from the sun is bounced off the snow and back into the atmosphere.

So even as our days get longer and we see more sunshine, not all of that energy is going to warming us back up, thus slowing down the warm-up periods.

We will thaw out

The latest long term forecast models still have this same pattern continuing -– more cold air for the Midwest and Northeast and more warm air in the Southwest. Despite that, days are getting longer every day for the next few months.

That’s more energy to thaw things out, and average temperatures across the country warm up faster during March and April than any other time of the year. That means if we’re twenty degrees below an average of sixty degrees at the end of the month, that’s still forty degrees and above freezing.

Jason Meyers is a digital meteorologist for The E.W. Scripps Co. For breaking weather news no matter where you are in the country, download the StormShield app for your iPhone or Android device.

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