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Weather Talk: False spring more likely with light snow cover

This winter's light snow could be setting us up for a false spring.

Typically, our deepest snow cover of the winter happens in February and March. As daylight lengthens in the late winter and early spring, our warmup is usually delayed by all that snow, which has to melt before truly mild weather can happen.

But when there is little or no snow cover, the black topsoil in our region is ready to warm up as soon as the spring south winds start blowing across the Great Plains.

However, the wind can easily change direction. Arctic air and much deeper snow cover lie across southern Canada. If our snow cover remains scant, it will be easy for unusually warm weather to develop very early in spring. Likewise, there will be nothing to stop a spring snowstorm or even a severe spring cold snap.

John Wheeler

John was born in Baton Rouge, LA, and grew up near Birmingham, Alabama. As a teenager, his family moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and later to a small town in northeast Iowa. John traces his early interest in weather to the difference in climate between Alabama and Wisconsin. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a degree in meteorology. Like any meteorologist, John is intrigued by extremes of weather, especially arctic air outbreaks and winter storms.  John has been known to say he prefers his summers to be hot but in winter, he prefers the cold.  When away from work, John enjoys long-distance running and reading.  John has been a meteorologist at WDAY since May of 1985.

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