February weather outlook: Prepare for more of the same

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If you're hoping for an early end to winter, keep on dreaming. The bitterly cold temperatures and frequent snow showers of the past two months will continue through February, the Indiana State Climate Office says.

"There's really no relief in sight," said Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist. "We're in for a true Indiana winter - like the ones we old folks remember from our youth."

February temperatures in Indiana will be colder than normal but may reach highs in the 40s with lows in the 20s by the end of the month, he said. Precipitation this month will be greater than normal with a continuation of weekly snow showers.

Scheeringa said that weather after February is harder to predict. Current forecasts show equal chances for above-normal, normal and below-normal temperatures.

The brutal weather in Indiana this winter is due to the position of the polar jet stream, the fast-flowing air current that this year starts in northwest Canada and plunges into the central U.S., Scheeringa said. The current is unusually high this winter, forming an open "pipeline" between the Midwest and the frigid airs in Canada and the North Pole.

"That pathway was open almost all of January," he said. "We've been right in the storm track with lots of cold air and snow."

Following the jet stream are Alberta clippers - small, quickly moving storms that dump several inches of snow as they pass. Clippers moved through Indiana every few days in January with hardly a pause between storms. As a result, January was the fourth snowiest month in the Indianapolis area since records began in 1884.

While snowfall will taper off slightly this month, Indiana residents should still prepare for frequent storms, Scheeringa said.

Travelers should exercise caution and delay their journey if heavy snowfall is imminent.

"Be careful on highways," he said. "Prepare to be stuck. Pack food, emergency supplies and a snow shovel in your car. This winter is all business."



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