Spring Weather Arrives Early, But Winter Ain't Over
Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Moon say despite warm weather, it's too early to tell if this spring has snow in store.
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Today might mark the first official day of spring, but don't break out those shorts and flip-flops just yet.
Officials with the National Weather Service in Moon said a recent string of sunny days and warm temperatures might soon be cooling down.
Anything—including snow—could happen in April, said meterologist Bob Coblentz.
"In more than 20 years of doing this, I've seen it go from sunny and 80 degrees to 20 degrees and snowing in April," Coblentzsaid. "Anything can happen in April."
Coblentz said temperatures on Sunday are predicted to dip to the more seasonally appropriate mid-50s.
"This is something you'll see every few years, just an unusually warm early spring season," he said. "It is unusual to have a string of just really nice days like this, we're going on seven or eight now in a row, but we are expecting to see a break in it."
On St. Patrick's Day, temperatures reached a balmy 77 degrees, marking one of the hottest March days in the Pittsburgh region since 1994.
"It's definitely above average; it's not typical, but it's also not incredibly unusual to have temperatures this high," Coblentz said.
According to the weather service's unofficial data:
- The average temperature so far in March of 2012 is 48.1 degrees. 77 degrees is the monthly high, and 20 degrees is the monthly low. The monthly average temperature for March 2011 was 39 degrees.
- Temperatures spiked to 84 degrees in March 1929, marking the hottest March in the Pittsburgh region on record. The warmest average temperature recorded in March in the Pittsburgh region was 51.2 degrees in March of 1946.
- March 1921 is considered the warmest spring season on average in the Pittsburgh region.
Warm Atlantic Ocean jet streams are pushing inward off the eastern seaboard creating an early spring heat wave in the east but leaving conditions much cooler out west, Coblentz said.
"It's just a lot of warm air being pushed in our direction," he said.
Despite the spring-like weather, Coblentz said Western Pennsylvania residents should hold off on gardening until later in the season.
"That would be foolhardy," he said. "Just as a personal observation, right now we're seeing buds on trees and things like that. I'm not sure what impact [the early warm weather] will have on vegetation, but it might not be good. If we get a big freeze or something, that would really cause problems."