IRON MOUNTAIN – A clash of cold air in the north and warm air in the south is expected to produce a mix of snow or rain this weekend, with a chance of freezing rain prompting a National Weather Service winter weather advisory in Marquette .
The advisory is in effect until 4 p.m. today across the central Upper Peninsula, including Dickinson, Delta and Menominee counties. Freezing rain could lead to ice accumulations of up to 0.2 inches.
“Difficult travel conditions are possible” NWS forecasters said. “Prepare for possible power outages.”
Rain, snow or freezing rain could continue through Sunday, with wind gusts of up to 30 mph. About an inch of snow may fall locally. Highs in the mid 30s are expected today and Sunday.
Conditions are expected to calm by Monday, with a high near 32.
March 20 will mark the start of the spring season, but daily high temperatures may not reach the 50s until early April, forecasters say.
Flood risk for the central Upper Peninsula this spring is lower than usual, due to dry fall, average snowfall and insufficient soil moisture, the NWS said. The wildcard is spring precipitation and temperature swings as stream flows across the UP are near or even below normal.
A long-term forecast from the Climate Prediction Center suggests normal rainfall and a slightly higher chance of warm weather over the next three months.
AccuWeather, meanwhile, predicts a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms through May. Storm systems are expected to move across the Midwest and Northeast, meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.
“April is shaping up to be a very active month” he said, adding more than 200 tornadoes are expected to touch down, mostly in the central United States
Today’s storm system could bring severe weather to the central Midwest. Cities at risk for severe thunderstorms — including an isolated tornado — include Des Moines, Iowa and Omaha, Neb., AccuWeather meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
Showers are possible overnight in Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, he added.
After a snowy December, the local winter turned cold and relatively dry. Temperatures in February averaged 12.4 degrees at the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Wastewater Treatment Plant, about 4 degrees below normal. January temperatures averaged 8.9 degrees, about 5 degrees below normal.
Snowfall in February measured 7.8 inches, 3 inches below average, after January’s 10.2 inches, also 3 inches below norm.
Seasonal snowfall at the end of February was 53.5 inches, about 8 inches less than typical for an entire winter. A whopping 29 inches of snow fell in December, but much of it has melted. Snow depth at the end of February at the treatment plant was 17 inches.
Water equivalent precipitation in February measured 0.73 inches, compared to an average of 1.08 inches for the month. The highest temperature last month in Iron Mountain-Kingsford was 40 degrees on February 21 and the lowest was 17 below zero on February 13.
The US Drought Monitor shows persistent moderate drought in all Wisconsin counties along the Upper Peninsula border, extending to all of Menominee and Gogebic counties and parts of Dickinson, Iron, Delta and Ontonagon counties . There is no drought problem in the rest of the Upper Peninsula except for the eastern end.
La Nina continues to be the main driver of forecast climate, said NWS forecaster Dan Collins. La Nina, a periodic central Pacific cooling, is expected to last through May, with a transition to neutral conditions thereafter.
The climate model predicts about a 40% chance of above normal temperatures in northern Wisconsin and central UP through May and a 25% chance of below normal temperatures.
Jim Anderson can be reached at 906-774-3500, ext. 226, or [email protected]