Weather Talk: Late winter/early spring is a season unto itself

Late winter/early spring, in most years, is a kind of fifth season here in the Northern Plains. It is a period in which the weather is warm enough to melt snow, but not yet warm enough to for spring things like dandelions and green grass. Although this year is somewhat extreme, the snow in our region is often at its deepest in March. Even though the days are longer and the sun higher, lingering snow pack usually negates many of these potential warming effects.

Underneath the snow, ground frost usually reaches its deepest penetration in March. Even as the snow begins to retreat, the ground remains frozen, creating pools of melt water which refreeze routinely on chilly mornings or during the inevitable cold snaps. This year, however, the snow is only now beginning to melt. The late winter/early spring season may last well into April this year.