BLOOMINGTON — The Twin Cities haven't had this much snow during a winter season since record keeping started in 1893 — and we're about to get more.
Another big system is expected to arrive in Bloomington-Normal after 6 p.m. Saturday and bring another 6 to 8 inches through Monday morning, said Heather Stanley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Lincoln.
"The snow will come over a long period of time," she said, and may only include a few brief breaks.
The amount of snow could change — depending on the track of the system — but because temperatures are expected to be in the 20s, the precipitation should come in the form of snow, she said. Areas south of Interstate 70 could see sleet, freezing rain and snow.
It will be the second system to come through our area this weekend. There is a 50 percent chance of snow after 7 p.m. Friday, but Stanley said that should only amount to an inch or less.
A north Normal weather station already has recorded 46.7 inches of snow — a number that tops the former snowiest winter record of 41.1 inches in the winter of 1961-62. The Twin Cities typically receive about 20 inches of snow during a winter.
From a meteorologist's standpoint, winter is December through February — meaning today is the last day of a meteorological winter. Astronomical winter, which is determined by how the Earth orbits the sun and the tilt of its axis, begins on the winter solstice (around Dec. 21) and ends on the spring equinox, which this year is March 20.
While temperatures have dipped below zero 24 times this winter, it's only the third coldest winter on record, according to the National Weather Service. The mean temperature so far is 19.4 degrees, but the mean temperature for the coldest winter on record was 19 degrees in 1935-36.
The second coldest was 1977-78 with a mean temperature of 19.1 degrees.
Nearly half of those below-zero temperatures occurred in February. As of Tuesday, the mean temperature for February was 16.4 degrees, making it the second coldest February on record, said Jim Angel, a climatologist with the Illinois Water Survey in Champaign.
The coldest temperatures recorded this year was 16 below zero on Jan. 6 and 7 at the north Normal recording site and 17 below zero on Jan. 6 at the Central Illinois Regional Airport in Bloomington.
Meanwhile it was the coldest and snowiest winter on record for Lincoln, according to the National Weather Service. Lincoln's mean temperature this winter — 20.9 degrees — tied the record set in 1977-78. Lincoln has received 41.6 inches, nearly 5 inches more than the previous record of 37 inches in 1981-82.
Angel said not only is more snow on the way but also the cold likely will be around for awhile. Long-range predictions show March, April and May likely will be colder than average. The average temperature for that three-month period is between 49.5 and 51.8 degrees.
In the short term, the National Weather Service shows a high of 27 degrees Friday and Saturday and a high of 20 degrees Sunday, 18 degrees Monday and 17 degrees Tuesday. Lows are expected to dip to 7 degrees on Sunday night; 3 degrees on Monday; and 4 degrees Tuesday.
There's another chance of snow on Wednesday night and Thursday, but Thursday's high is expected to be near 32 degrees.