With more than 40 days remaining until the official start of the spring season, that should come as good news to South Bend residents, who have already suffered through one of the worst winter seasons in recent memory.
Taking into account the 8.4 inches that fell overnight Tuesday as part of a winter weather system that ravaged the Midwest, the South Bend area has received a whopping 91.5 inches of snow so far this season, according to WSBT-TV Chief Meterologist Rick Mecklenburg, which is significantly above normal for this time of year.
A good portion of that total fell during a three-day period in January, when a vicious lake-effect storm pummeled the area with 38.6 inches of snow, including 25.4 inches during one 19-hour period, a total that shattered the previous single-day record of 20 inches set in 1909.
According to WSBT meteorologist Cari Peugeot, that January storm was the result of northern winds picking up moisture over frigid Lake Michigan and depositing it as snow on parts of northern Indiana, including South Bend and Mishawaka.
"We just didn't see much movement in the weather systems for those three days to change our winds much," she said. "That's a normal fluctuation in weather systems, but we just happened to be in the right spot with the right amount of wind and moisture for the right amount of time."
By comparison, the storm that swept through Tuesday and Wednesday — technically a blizzard in meteorological terms — was part of a larger system that picked up moisture over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Peugeot said, thereby producing a heavier brand of snow compared to the light and fluffy lake-effect variety.
Not surprisingly, the winter of 1977-78 (172 inches) ranks as the snowiest ever in the city — the notorious blizzard of 1978 pummeled the region in January of that season — followed by the winter of 1981-82 (135.2 inches), according to National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Steinwedel.
Though the all-time record appears out of reach, Steinwedel said, "If we get one or two more big snows this season, we could approach 1981-82."
And that could happen, he said, with below-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation predicted for February, and near-normal precipitation for March, which has an average snowfall of about 9 inches.
That said, when it comes to predicting the weather, "as we go farther out," Steinwedel said, "our confidence decreases."
Unfortunately, not everyone possesses the same flair for the climatic as Phil.
Staff writer Erin Blasko: firstname.lastname@example.org 574-235-6187