Today is the first day of spring, but if the Capital Region’s climate history is any indicator, we’re probably not out of the woods yet.
So don’t pack away the shovels or the snowblowers quite yet.
There have been significant snow storms in late March and into the first three weeks of April, according to the National Weather Service in Albany.
Nevertheless, Thursday’s temperatures in the low 50s with plenty of sunshine had people thinking spring. The relatively mild, clear weather is expected through the weekend.
“I’m praying for this weather to continue,” said Saratoga Springs Public Works Commissioner Anthony “Skip” Scirocco. “We are ready to go with our flowers, the whole spring thing.
“We had one of the worst Decembers we have ever had,” Scirocco said about the snowstorms in December. “And it continued into 2009.”
Scirocco said his department is 50 percent over its winter overtime budget. He said many of the storms that hit the region in the early part of the winter came on weekends, when the DPW had to call in workers and pay them overtime.
Evan Heller, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Albany, said that so far, 52.6 inches of snow have been measured during the winter of 2008-09 in Albany.
This is 3.7 inches below normal, he said. Normally, 56.3 inches of snow have fallen by March 19 in Albany.
The all-time snowfall record for Albany is 112.5 inches during the winter of 1970-71.
The winter of 2008-09 started off with a devastating ice storm on Dec. 11 that left large segments of the Capital Region without power, some people for as long as a week.
“It was one of the worst I have seen,” Heller said.
The month of December brought the most snow of the winter, around 27.5 inches, but January featured the coldest temperatures of the winter with an average temperature of 18.3 degrees, about 3 degrees below normal.
“January tied for the 44th coldest month on record in Albany,” Heller said. He said these records go back more than 100 years.
February was cold with not much snow — 2.8 inches in Albany — but with higher snow totals in northern parts of the region. March came in cold and stormy but has been above normal in temperature for the past two weeks.
But there could be more winter-like weather in coming weeks.
“It’s too early to say winter is over,” Heller said.
Some notable spring storms include:
u March 31, 1997, when a total of 14.6 inches of snow fell in Albany.
u April 9, 2000, when a total of 13.4 inches of snow was recorded.
u The spring of 1983, when 5.3 inches of snow fell on April 16 and another 11 inches came down on April 19.
The 30-day temperature outlook calls for normal temperatures for March and early April. That means highs in the mid to high 40s and lows around 30 at night.
This weekend’s weather looks sunny and seasonal. The high today is expected to be 46 degrees, with a low in the mid 20s. On Saturday, it will be in the mid 40s with lows about 20, and on Sunday it could reach 50.
A cold front is expected to bring clouds and cooler temperatures on Sunday afternoon, with highs Monday in the low 40s, Heller said. By the middle of next week, the temperatures will be back in the 50s with clear skies.