IRON MOUNTAIN - After a dry winter, spring is off to wet start.
It may get wetter yet, according to the National Weather Service.
The long-range forecast calls for "a greater than climatological chance" of more precipitation than normal in April across the Upper Peninsula, said Kevin Crupi, weather service meteorologist in Marquette.
Despite the snowfall earlier this week, the U.S. Drought monitor was reporting abnormally dry conditions over all but the extreme western Upper Peninsula.
February 2011 goes down in the record books as the fourth-driest on record at Iron Mountain-Kingsford, Crupi said. Water-equivalent precipitation totaled just 0.14 inches, which was 0.75 inches below normal. Only 1.6 inches of snow fell in February, which was 7.5 inches below normal.
For the months of January and February combined, water-equivalent precipitation totaled 0.7 inches, which was 1.64 inches below normal and the third-driest such period on record. The snowfall total was 10.8 inches, which was 15.1 inches below normal.
For the three-month period from December through February, the snowfall total at Iron Mountain-Kingsford was 24 inches, which was 17.6 inches below normal.
"Since the majority of the snow that fell (in the Upper Peninsula) this winter was of the lake effect variety, the liquid water content of the snow was relatively light," Crupi observed.
The Iron Mountain-Kingsford snowfall total from December though February was the 17th-lowest on record. Overall, however, it was the seventh-driest such period, with water-equivalent precipitation totaling 1.98 inches. That was 1.85 inches below normal.
In February, even at some places near Lake Superior, snowfall was well below normal, Crupi said.
"Only five inches of the white stuff fell in the city of Marquette, the lowest February snowfall since records began there in the 1870s," he said.
Although the winter was dry, temperatures averaged very close to normal.
From December through February, the average temperature at Iron Mountain-Kingsford was 16.4 degrees, which was 0.2 degrees above normal.
In February, the average temperature was 18.5 degrees, which was 1.1 degrees above normal. The highest temperature was 56 degrees on Feb. 16 and the lowest was minus 15 on Feb. 11.
A high temperature of 48 degrees on Feb. 13 set a record for that date, breaking the previous mark of 46 degrees in 1954.
Statistics for the Iron Mountain-Kingsford Wastewater Treatment Plant cooperative observer site are based on records that began in March 1931. Normals used are for the period 1971 through 2000.
For May through July, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a greater than climatological chance of below normal temperatures for all but the eastern portion of the Upper Peninsula. Normal precipitation trends are predicted.
To go with April's wet forecast, normal temperature trends are predicted.
"Average precipitation in April is greater than in March over much of interior Upper Michigan, but generally less in areas near Lake Superior," Crupi noted.
Some other temperature and precipitation observations across Upper Michigan in February:
- Ironwood, average temperature 15.5 degrees, snowfall 11.6 inches.
- Ontonagon, average temperature 21.5 degrees, snowfall 10 inches.
- Copper Harbor, average temperature 17.8 degrees, snowfall 10.2 inches.
- Baraga, average temperature 19 degrees, snowfall 9.1 inches.
- Big Bay, average temperature 19.9 degrees, snowfall 9.6 inches.
- Marquette, average temperature 21.2 degrees, snowfall 5 inches.
- Munising, average temperature 18.6 degrees, snowfall 11.9 inches.
- Newberry, average temperature 19.6 degrees, snowfall 13.5 inches.
- Iron River, average temperature 14.9 degrees, snowfall 0.5 inches.
- Norway, average temperature 19.2 degrees, snowfall 2.9 inches.
- Garden Corners, average temperature 17.6 degrees, snowfall 4.5 inches.
- Manistique, average temperature 19.1 degrees, snowfall 3.2 inches.
Jim Anderson's e-mail address is email@example.com.