Forecasters: ‘Spring has sprung’

By David Broyles

March 26, 2014

The only “winter wonder” on the minds of weather weary Surry Countians was wondering if Tuesday morning’s snowfall would be the last they’d see this spring. Forecasters offered hope the usual spring weather patterns were not far off but cautioned late March and early April snows have happened before.

“This (snowfall) was probably the last major punch of the winter,” said National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Meteorologist Ken Kostura. “I think the heaviest weather has passed by the area. I think the weather will return to more seasonable weather patterns by the weekend. It’s been a long winter this year with very active storm patterns this year. However, it’s not out of the realm of reason for a late March, early April snow.”

According to Kostura, Tuesday’s snow was pushed into the area by an upper level atmospheric disturbance that moved into the region from the northwest. This combined with a rapidly deepening coastal low. He said an arctic high pressure zone was predicted to build into the region with bitterly cold temperatures for late March.

The NOAA forecast indicated spring had definitely sprung with the return of typical wide swings of weather and variability among its computer weather models. Information supplied by Kostura indicated these same models are “flip flopping” in regards to the front stalling and keeping Saturday rainy. The reports noted the ECMWF and GFS weather models two days ago called for Saturday being dry so “all bets are off at this point.”

Forecasters anticipate the high pressure area to shift to the east of the region Thursday which could allow more “springlike” conditions to return later this week with an upper level disturbance bringing a chance of showers and thunderstorms by Friday and Saturday.

According to the NOAA website update at noon Tuesday, tonight it will be mostly clear with a low around 25. Northwest winds from 5 to 7 mph are forecast with it becoming calm after midnight. Thursday’s forecast calls for it to be partly sunny, with a high near 56 followed by a chance of showers after 2 a.m. with a low around 40. Friday highs are forecast to be near 61 degrees with an 80 percent chance of precipitation followed with a 30 percent chance of showers Saturday and the high near 67.

Information from Duke Power’s website Tuesday afternoon indicated no significant power outages in Mount Airy. Surry County Emergency Medical Services Director John Shelton had a positive report Tuesday on the storm’s effects.

“We did really well all things considered,” said Shelton. “The roads were really wet, but people were really traveling sensibly and slowing down. These wet snows like this are easier to travel in. We were lucky because of the temperatures and sun leading up to the storm because the asphalt had a chance to warm up. We’re all ready for spring. I know that.”

David Broyles may be reached at 336-719-1952 or on twitter@MtAiryNewsDave.