Despite ongoing episodes of warmth, there is still the potential for cold and snow near and north of Interstate 70 in the central and eastern part of the United States during the first half of March.
March is often a tug of war between two seasons: winter and spring. At least the first half of this month will be no exception.
As warmth builds over the southern tier, cold air often lingers across Canada. This creates a pattern favorable for potent storms across the northern tier of the U.S., which can displace the warmth to the north and the cold air to the south.
During the next couple of weeks, there are signs that colder air may try to fight back over the northeastern and north-central parts of the nation perhaps with more power, compared to much of February.
Temperatures averaged between 5 and 10 degrees Fahrenheit above normal over the North Central and Northeastern states during February.
"Because normal temperatures trend upward at a fast pace during March, there will be the potential for more days where temperatures average below normal, compared to February," according to AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
For example, in New York City, the normal high temperature for March 1 is 45. By the end of the month, the normal high temperature is 55.
Two things will have to happen for accumulating snow to extend beyond that of traditional lake-effect areas in the Midwest and Northeast.
"Cold air will have to hold its ground over southeastern Canada, while the number of storms blasting California from the Pacific Ocean will have to ease up," Pastelok said.
"We think there is potential for that, despite the waffling, back-and-forth nature of forecast computer models," Pastelok said. "That being said, we still do not believe temperatures will be below average most days during the next two weeks in the Northeast, Great Lakes and Ohio Valley."
A fair number of storms are likely to streak across the northern tier of the U.S. over the next couple of weeks. As a result, it may be nearly impossible to time the potential wintry events with any certainty beyond a few days.
However, in lieu of a major snowstorm, it is possible for Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., to get just the right setup for an episode or two of accumulating snow to occur over the next couple of weeks.
The first such episode of light snow may streak eastward along parts of the I-80 and I-70 corridors by the end of this week.
No measurable snow (0.1 of an inch or greater) was observed during the entire month of February in Chicago, Baltimore and Washington, D.C. For the first time since records have been kept in 1884, snow has not laid on the ground for an entire day in Chicago during all of January and February.
Beyond the next couple of weeks, the pattern may flip back to what we experienced during much of February.
"There is a good chance the days with above-average temperatures will far outweigh the days with below-average temperatures for the second half of March in the Central and Eastern states," Pastelok said.
In the meantime, people may want to resist the temptation to pack away the snow shovels and car brushes.