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                   Monday, March 16, 2009 - 7:40PM

Spring forecast update

By DAN ROBINSON
Editor/Photographer
25 Years of Storm Observing
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After last week's forecast-busting event, it's back to "so far, so good" on the winter-may-be-over possibility. The GFS and Euro models continue to show no obvious indications of snow (cold eastern trough, with 850mb and surface temps below freezing and precip) out past April 1. The lone exception is this coming Friday and Saturday morning, when the GFS has the central/northern Appalachians dipping down close to the freezing mark in the overnight hours (in between warmups during the daytime), much like this past Thursday and Friday. The difference is only a light area of precip shows up in the northern WV mountains briefly on one of those mornings. There is no major storm system shown tracking to our south (like last time) or to the north, so I think the chances of another surprise shift in precip chances are fairly low.

Temperatures are shown as pretty moderate - not cold, but not all that warm either. After a brief warmup in the next couple of days, the GFS wants to keep our highs in the 50s for the remainder of the week. Again, the GFS is known for a long-range cold bias, so our late-week may actually be a little warmer.

Climatologically, it's not a huge stretch to say that winter's days are numbered at this point. The 13th was probably our annual last 'sticking snow' - last year's was March 8, in 2007 it was March 17, in 2006 it was on March 21. In all four of those cases (2006-2009), bridges iced up and caused accidents. Last year, our last snow altogether was on March 24 - and in 2007, it was on April 7. In both cases, accumulations were either non-existent or too minor to create road problems. So, as long as that pattern holds true this time, I think our icy road season here in Charleston may be done.

With the end of winter comes the beginning of spring 'family travel' season. Lord willing I'll be driving to Boston on the 29th of March, staying for a few days. Then sometime in the first week or two in April, I'm planning on a week-long Raleigh trip - which may be the last annual 'spring pre-storm season car cleaning/work day' (depending on the fate of the NC house). By the time the Raleigh trip rolls around, I should have an idea on what type of hit I'll be taking in taxes - at which point I can decide if a Plains weather expedition will be possible.

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