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Sebenste: Snowfall predictions this weekend exaggerated

Published: Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014 3:40 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, Feb. 28, 2014 12:33 p.m. CST

DeKALB — With an undetermined amount of snow expected to fall in DeKalb County this weekend, many residents likely are wondering if this winter will ever end.

And according to AccuWeather and a Northern Illinois University meteorologist, signs of spring aren't coming any time soon.

AccuWeather predicts that the area may see mid-winter style cold last until the third week of March. And after a brief warm up, temperatures are expected to dip again.

"I think in the middle part of March, around the 16th to the 23rd, days will be at or above average," AccuWeather Meteorologist Mark Paquette said. "I could see you guys reaching [50 degrees] or exceeding that. But then around the 24th temperatures may go back below normal."

The average high for this time of year is 39 degrees with a low of 24. At the end of March the average high is 53 degrees, a mark that we are not likely to hit, Paquette said.

"The overall trend through [March] will be far more cold days than normal days," he said. "Never mind mild."

NIU meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste said a couple of factors have contributed to the colder temperatures this winter.

"We had snow cover that started early in the season. By mid-November or early December, a good chunk of the country had snow cover," Sebenste said. "History tells us that an early and widespread snow cover will mean colder temperatures."

The second factor he cited was that the cold air in the Arctic and Antarctic regions, coupled with warm waters in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean, forced the jet stream north into the Siberian air before it came crashing down on the United States.

Another factor contributing to the extended winter season is the ice-covered Great Lakes, Paquette said. With nearly 90 percent of the Great Lakes covered with ice, the air coming of the water will remain frigid for some time.

"[Ice on the lakes] does play a role," Paquette said. "It affects you less than areas downstream from them, like Michigan, northern Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania. But when you get that immediate wind from the lake, it has a chilling effect."

As for this weekend, the National Weather Service is predicting "measurable snow" beginning Friday night and continuing through Sunday. But with the path and strength of the storm still uncertain, exact snowfall amounts could not be predicted, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Amy Seeley.

Sebenste said DeKalb County likely will be on the northern fringe of the two storm systems.

"It looks like the worst of it will stay in central Illinois," Sebenste said. "There's been a lot of rumors that we'll get a foot of snow. That's not even remotely true."

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