Bluster-filled storm mostly fizzled

News-DemocratMarch 3, 2014 

Metro-east residents shivered through near-record low temperatures Monday with 3-4 inches of ice and snow covering the ground in some places.

Although the temperature and precipitation led to several school closures, it was far less snow and ice than forecasted.

"The models were wrong," said Ben Miller of the National Weather Service in St. Louis. He said the weather service relies on several methods to determine how much precipitation will fall. In this case, the models all agreed that the area would get half an inch of liquid, which translates to six inches of snow.

"(The models) just didn't do a good job with this storm," Miller said.

At dawn it was 3 degrees in Belleville, only two degrees higher than the record low for the day, and it was still 14 degrees at noon, according to the National Weather Service. The high was 20 degrees -- 30 degrees lower than the average high temperature for the first week of March.

"The cold and snow will be history by June, I promise you that," Miller said. He expects the weekend's expected temperatures will be normal at around 50 degrees.

The latest round of winter weather caused schools across the region to take yet another snow day. Many high school and most grade school districts cancelled school, citing the poor conditions of rural roads, subdivision streets and school parking lots.

A gradual warming trend will mean high 20s on Tuesday, 30s on Wednesday and near 40 on Thursday. The weekend should be more normal this time of year, with highs right around 50 degrees.

"We get past the middle of March and it gets increasingly unlikely that we get any accumulation of snow," Miller said, "but last year on March 24, we had about a foot."

"This is indicative of the pattern we've been in. We get an area of low pressure, we get in the warm part of the storm -- that flip-flop has been the mantra for the entire winter. It's not uncommon to have swings, but it is unusual for the pattern to be locked in for this long," Miller said.

The cold forced the cancellation of at least one Monday event: The Belleville Running Club's "Couch to 5K," a nine-week running program, was scheduled to start Monday at Belleville East High School.

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