Index confirms this winter has been a severe one

Index confirms this winter has been a severe one
World-Herald News Service

Drier and breezy today as Monday’s storm system shifts east.

The forecast from the National Weather Service in Valley calls for clearing this morning, resulting in mostly sunny skies this afternoon. A few wispy clouds will drift in by this evening.

Peak wind gusts will be near 35 mph this morning and afternoon. Highs today are expected to be in the low 20s in northeast Nebraska, and mid 30s in southern Nebraska.

Due to the potential for slick roads, several schools have delayed the start of classes today.

The past few weeks of cold and snow have pushed this winter into the “severe” category as measured by the Accumulated Winter Season Severity Index.

The index, a relatively new measurement, attempts to objectively compare one winter to others by taking into account the intensity and persistence of both cold weather and snow. (Winter’s final ranking could improve if weather noticeably warms.)

The region hasn’t had a severe winter in five years.

Monday’s mush: Southeast Nebraska, southwest Iowa and northwest Missouri saw anywhere between two to five inches of snow. The snow showers continued right through the evening rush hour, making it difficult for plows to clear the roads and drivers to get to their destinations.

Raod crews began clearing major and secondary streets Monday afternoon in Nebraska City. Roads, which were slick Monday afternoon, should be in fair condition by Tuesday morning, he said.

Snowier than average: Omaha has received 28.9 inches of snow for the season as of Monday evening, which is 11.4 inches above the 30-year average of 17.5 inches by this time of year. Snow started in October: 1.4 inches fell on Oct. 14, stretching out the season’s misery. While that’s not record early, it is noticeably earlier than normal.

December saw an average amount of snow, and two snowfalls of about 5 inches apiece in January sent that month’s total to about double what’s normal. February is running nearly three times normal.

Colder lately: Winter started out warmer than normal, December and January were both warmer than average. But this month, polar air dropping south has caused temperatures to plunge. February is averaging about 5 degrees colder than normal. Daytime highs are averaging 28 degrees and night-time lows about 13.

More cold, maybe more snow: The nicest day in the next week will be Wednesday, when temperatures are expected to reach about 43, winds will be light and no snow is expected. Otherwise, colder than average weather is forecast into next week, with this weekend being noticeably colder than average.

Highs this weekend are forecast in the teens, lows in the single digits to about zero. The average high for this time of year in Omaha is 37 and the average low is 17, according to the weather service.

There are a couple of more chances for snow later in the week, but cold is the big news, according to the National Weather Service. Also, a couple of days, including Tuesday, will be annoyingly windy.

Long-range outlook: Cold. The U.S. Climate Prediction Center is projecting colder than average weather across most of the continental U.S. through Feb. 25.

World-Herald staff writers Chris Peters and Kevin Cole contributed to this report.