By Samantha Pidde
Herald Staff Writer
Area weather experts agree this winter has been unique. While the next few days will offer a reprieve from below-zero temperatures and significant snowfall, they warn the season has not ended yet.
“We’re still not out of it yet,” said Jim Blaess, Clinton-area weather observer for the U.S. government.
Monday’s snowfall totaled 4.2 inches, bringing the total for the month so far to 14.5 inches. With this new total, this month is the 11th snowiest February, going all the way back to 1888. After Monday’s snowfall, the total from October until now is 43.2 inches, making this winter the 18th snowiest winter since 1888.
“It’s definitely been a more challenging winter,” State Climatologist Harry Hillaker said. “So far we haven’t had any big snow events. It’s just been a lot of them.”
As the snow fell throughout the day, Clinton residents and business employees could be seen shoveling. Employee Sean Rasmussen was outside Hass Market, 122 S. Second St., clearing snow from the sidewalk. While usually a fan of the winter season, Rasmussen is ready to see it end.
“I love snow, but I’m so sick of seeing it,” Rasmussen said.
Hillaker expects the Clinton area to get a small break for the next week or so before more snow comes. Blaess said the area typically sees a thaw by this time, with a few 50-degree days. This winter, the only 50-degree was on Dec. 4.
The National Weather Service predicts the area will see a high of 39 degrees today, 37 degrees on Wednesday, 40 degrees on Thursday and 34 degrees on Friday. After that, Hillaker said there will be a cooling trend, with possible snowfall on Sunday.
“(Snow is) still in the forecast, but at least we should have a little break,” Hillaker said.
As of Saturday, this winter has seen 30 days of zero or below temperatures, only the 12th time, going back to 1893. This winter had the most zero or below-zero-degree temperature days since the winter of 1978-1979. The past two winters had four of these days combined.
Although this week’s warmer weather could affect this, Blaess said this year is set to be the second meteorlogical winter. Until today, the entire month of February has not seen a single day with temperatures at or above the average temperature. On Feb. 11, Clinton broke a record of negative 16 degrees in 1895 with a new low of 21 below zero.
“We haven’t set a lot of records, but we sure have had a lot of cold,” Blaess said.
While snow is not in the forecast the rest of this week, Hillaker said there is a pretty good chance of rainfall for Wednesday and Thursday. He does not believe people will have to worry about the rain freezing, but he does not know for sure.
“Could be a fair amount of rain for this time of year,” Hillaker said.
Hillaker warned that the area might actually see some flooding, with melting snow and runoff unable to soak into the still-frozen ground. He added it could cause a messy situation next week when the weather turns colder again.