BLOOMINGTON — The calendar says spring begins in less than two weeks, but Twin City residents such as Tom Failor are more than anxious for its arrival.
Bundled up in a heavy coat Tuesday morning while walking in downtown Bloomington, Failor was complaining about weather forecasters who haven’t yet declared that winter is over.
“As the winter goes along, I’ve changed the way I look at a forecast,” he said. “I used to look at the first two to three days of the forecast and not worry about what’s coming five to seven days later. Now, I look at the back end of the forecast to see when warm weather is coming. That’s all I care about.”
Failor will be disappointed to know that the latest long-range forecast indicates temperatures are not expected to rise above 45 degrees for at least another week.
Still, there are signs that spring is coming. Daylight saving time begins Sunday, the first day of astronomical spring follows on the March 20 equinox, and for meteorologists, spring record-keeping officially began March 1.
But does that mean that we are through with winter weather for this year?
“No,” said Kirk Huettl, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln. “We can still get winter storms in March and even in early April.”
There are no indications that a major system will affect Central Illinois any time soon, he said. The forecast includes the possibility of snow showers Friday, but significant accumulation is not expected.
The average McLean County snowfall for March is less than 2 inches, Huettl said.
“That doesn’t mean that we couldn’t get another significant storm, but all we see now is what we have seen most of the year, which is some unsettled patterns moving through, dropping a little bit of rain and some occasional snow showers,” he said.
The last significant snowfall was in early February. The last time a winter storm warning was issued for McLean County was Feb. 23, 2016.
While not much snow fell last month, a lot of rain did. February 2018 was one of the driest on record until sudden big storms with heavy rainfall rolled in at the end of the month. The month finished as one the wettest on record for the state.
The climate prediction center part of the National Weather Service is predicting above-average precipitation for the months of March, April and May, said Scott Baker, a meteorologist from NWS in Lincoln. The average precipitation for Illinois is around 2 inches in March, 4 inches in April and 5 inches in May, he said.
Temperature forecasts are unclear but may remain around average. The average temperatures for Illinois are 43 degrees in March, 55 degrees in April and 65 degrees in May, Baker said.
The projection for this month includes temperatures in the 30s and 40s for the first half of the month and temperatures getting warmer toward the end of the month, Baker said.
“We’re really about normal right now as far as temperatures go,” Huettl said. “And we are getting close to being about normal as far as precipitation."
Jerry Foster, who farms in rural Bloomington, said he is keeping an eye on the moisture in his fields and, despite a lack of snow this winter, he feels optimistic.
“The soil moisture appears to be pretty good right now, and it’s really been a long time since these fields were dry,” he said. “If it were warmer, I would be thinking about getting into the fields once it dries out, but we are looking at early April as a starting point right now.”