The polar vortex ruined February’s forecast, will March be next?

by CBS 3 meteorologist Dave Anderson

Vermilion Community College sure has been an asset to Ely since its founding in 1922. In my parents’ day, tuition for local kids was free and paid for by the Oliver Mining Company. By the time my turn came in the early 80’s, it was no longer free but still quite a bargain and I was able to pay for it with two year’s work as a janitor at the high school.
All these years later, I still have the “stop acid rain” button I was given as a VCC freshman. The whole campus was on a crusade to fight that environmental problem. According to a BBC article titled “The Bittersweet Story of How We Stopped Acid Rain”, joint efforts between the U.S. and Canada have put a big dent in the trouble.
Twenty-eight years ago when I went back to school for meteorology, the thinning of the ozone layer was the cause the campus of Mississippi State University was teaming up against. According to a NASA article called “NASA, NOAA Data Indicate Ozone Layer is Recovering”, joint efforts among the world’s industrial powers are easing that problem, too.
So, solving anthroprogenic atmospheric warming should be doable as well. In fact, NPR has a new report out titled, “Greenhouse Gas Emissions Drop During Pandemic”. It says gaseous emissions of pollutants have fallen to their lowest level since World War Two. The article also says emissions will probably go back up when the pandemic ends. Maybe that’s true for a lot of things, but I think now that we’ve discovered that zoom meetings can replace a lot of long distance travel, maybe auto emissions can stay down.
Despite lowered greenhouse gases in 2020, the year still ended warmer than normal around here. Normal annual mean temperature is 39.7 degrees. Departure from normal for the year was plus 1.6 degrees. Normal climate variation is only plus 0.8 degree according to at least one meteorology professor I work with in one of my side jobs at a college.
January 2021 came up 7.7 degrees warmer than normal. However, that was counterbalanced by February which had a departure from normal mean temperature of minus 8.1 degrees which makes 2021 0.2 degree colder than normal so far.
Long range forecasters thought February was going to be 6 degrees warmer than normal. The polar vortex sure blew that theory apart. This time around, the long range forecasters think northern Minnesota will average three degrees warmer than normal in March. And they think the rain equivalent will be near 1.5 inches which is normal for March. In a perfect world for winter fans, that would mean 15 inches of fresh snow. But, of course, this time of year there are spring enthusiasts hoping winter goes by the wayside. March 2021 should have a little of both flavors; winter and spring. March 1 to 5 should be cold and snowy. The 6th to 13th should be mild with flurries. The 14th to 18th could have some fair amounts of snow along with mild temperatures. The 19th to 23rd could be warm enough for rain. And, the 24th to 31st could be sunny and mild.
On this month’s final note, congrats to Kurt Kruse for recording a record of 50 below on Snowbank Lake. He now joins the ranks of other legendary official NWS observers like Charlie Fowler and Kathy Hoppa who have also recorded readings from -50 to -60.