CLEVELAND (WJW) — Although spring has officially arrived after a mild winter, the FOX 8 weather team predicted weeks ago there’d be a colder pattern shift in March – which could mean more snow.
But why is the pattern so much colder now that we finally made it to March?
Meteorologist Scott Sabol says it has to do with multiple factors, starting with temperatures trending warmer in the upper atmosphere over the north pole since mid-to-late February.
“The sudden warming in the stratosphere over the north pole translates to high pressure over the north pole at the surface due to compression. Thus colder temperatures/high pressure and often a weaker polar vortex,” he said.
He explained these changes high in the atmosphere over the pole spread to the lower levels and further south into the tropical regions.
With this stronger jet stream, the trough moved east into the Ohio Valley along with colder air.
Keep in mind, all of this is occurring in a decaying La Nina, or cooling phase, along the equatorial Pacific.
So what does this mean for 2023 spring weather in Northeast Ohio?
Scott Sabol says at this point in the season there’s “no chance” for ice on Lake Erie because it’s “just not cold enough.” But this does suggest that lake effect snow could develop if cold winds sweep over an iceless Lake Erie.
“If any cold period develops with a wind off of Lake Erie, lake effect snow could develop in March and possibly April,” he said.
We had up to 40% ice coverage around Christmas, the highest this winter, but that only lasted one day.
It’s been a few years since we had a long stretch with 90% ice coverage. Check out the graph below:
Would the lack of ice on the lake cause air temps to remain on the warmer side?
“No,” Scott said. “With a wind off the lake, temps could stay cooler along the shoreline.”
Yes, it has been colder since the last couple of weeks of February, but Scott reminds Northeast Ohioans that March temperatures have been near normal.
“High temperatures have been below normal but overnight lows have been slightly above because of abundant cloud cover,” he said.
Visit Scott Sabol’s World of Weather blog for a detailed look at ice coverage on Lake Erie in 2023.