Wintry weather will return for an extended stay

02/22/2014 4:57 PM

05/08/2014 10:04 AM

Don’t put those winter clothes away just yet, Kansas.

If last Thursday’s snow flurries, wind gusts that knocked down power lines and sharp plunge in temperatures wasn’t enough of a reminder, a cold spell is poised to settle in early this week and stick around through at least early March, forecasters say.

“It looks like it’s going to remain cold at least for the foreseeable future,” said Sarah Glenn, storm warning meteorologist for AccuWeather in Wichita.

Consider it the latest verse of a song folks in the eastern half of the U.S. have heard entirely too often this winter: High pressure in Alaska and the western half of Canada will push harshly cold Arctic air into the upper Midwest and eastern portions of the U.S., said Larry Ruthi, meteorologist-in-charge of the Dodge City branch of the National Weather Service.

“The bulk of the really cold air is going to stay east of us,” Ruthi said.

But Wichita and most of Kansas can nevertheless expect temperatures below normal for the latter part of February and early March, forecasters say. More snow is likely, too.

Wichita has recorded 19.4 inches so far this winter, while Dodge City has logged 23.4 inches.

“I’m certainly ready” for spring, weatherman Ruthi said. “I’m sick of snow.”

But that snow – with more likely to come – is welcome moisture for farmers in the region, he said.

The Climate Prediction Center outlook suggests colder-than-average temperatures through at least mid-March, Ruthi said, and it’s even possible Kansas could see snow over spring break.

Average highs by late February have climbed above 50 in Wichita, and forecasts call for temperatures below that for the next week – at times several degrees below normal.

Nothing in the climate models suggests a late-season howitzer such as the two massive snowstorms less than a week apart in late February last year. Two snowstorms only four days apart dumped 21 inches of snow on Wichita.

But folks eager to start working in the garden had best bide their time, forecasters warn.

“I would not expect an early spring,” Ruthi said.

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