Most of the folks in the Lower 48 states apparently won’t be reaching for their flip-flops and suntan lotion anytime soon. Salomon Smith Barney meteorologist Jon Davis warned the “WINTER IS NOT OVER!” last week and a number of other weather forecasters agreed.

Michael Schlacter, chief meteorologist for Weather 2000, said the central and eastern United States have a ways to go before spring arrives. “Other than December, which was a slight exception, the entire central and eastern states have pretty much been locked in cold weather,” he said. “We don’t really see too much of a change on the horizon, especially for the eastern third” of the country.

Schlacter pointed out that the Midwest, Northeast and Mid-Atlantic have been consistently below normal since October and some of those regions could continue the streak by “two, three and even four months more without seeing a truly above normal month.

“If there was ever a circumstance where heating demand or the winter season would be extended as much as possible, this would be the year,” Schlacter said. “This definitely is the type of winter season where you see snow storms on St. Patrick’s Day or snow storms in early April. This is the kind of winter that could support that type of scenario.”

In the near to medium term, Schlacter said, “We really don’t see any relief in sight. We don’t see any extended periods of above-normal temperatures, such as three to four days of plus three or plus four” in the central and eastern states. However, he said the deep south could be an exception.

While cold weeks this winter in the Eastern third have outnumbered warm weeks by about 14 to four, the western third of the United States has been the opposite, according to Schlacter. Even as the West comes off of a cold week, the forecaster said most locations in the western third will still come out with another above normal temperature month for February and likely March.

The National Weather Service (NWS) outlooks released last Thursday support those predictions. NWS’ updated six- to 10-day forecast calls for below-normal temperatures for much of the country through March 9. During that time the NWS looks for below normal temps except for the deep Southeast, which is expected to stay normal. The NWS eight- to 14-day outlook, which covers March 7-13, calls for a warming of sorts as most of the West and southern portions of the country experience normal to above normal temps, while the Northeast, Great Lakes region and portions of the Midwest will remain colder than normal.

Davis said Friday that although the weekend temperatures were expected to return to more normal levels across much of the central and eastern United States, another Arctic airmass should flow into the country early this week. Although the cold airmass looks fairly weak, indicators show that a third moderately strong airmass could follow it down later in the week. As a result, he is calling for temperatures across the central and eastern United States to be below (3-5 degrees F below) and considerably below (6-9 F below) normal this week. As for the west, he noted that temps across the Rockies will return to more normal levels in most areas.

“The bottom line is that winter is not yet over and the upcoming [one to two] weeks will be another period of below normal temps and above normal heating demand in the central and eastern U.S.,” Davis added.

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