March may have come in like an angry, cold, snowy lion but at mid-month there are already signs that spring has sprung in the Northland.
The intense part of the winter of 2018-2019 appears to be fading, with meteorological spring already here, calendar spring coming next week and warmer than normal temperatures as far as the National Weather Service forecast goes out.
Recent days may have brought flooding and blizzards to some areas, but much of the Northland simply saw rain, melting snow and the first above normal temperatures in a long time.
That doesn't mean we won't get more snow. Heck, April 2013 was the snowiest month in recorded history in Duluth at 50.8 inches. But it does mean the worst is probably behind us.
And here's more good news:
• There are no below zero temperatures anywhere in any forecast, and no accumulating snow.
• Some models are predicting 50-degree highs for Duluth just 7-10 days away.
• The heavy rain this week eroded the snowpack in Duluth by 9 inches, from 27 inches on Sunday to 18 inches Friday.
• The Dairy Queen in Two Harbors is open. And Gordy's in Cloquet opens next Wednesday.
• Lake Superior is losing ice cover.
• Spring road restrictions for parts of St. Louis County highways go into effect Tuesday.
It may not have felt like it, but the hardest part of winter in Duluth was relatively short lived. December was nearly 7 degrees warmer than the 30-year normal, and the first 17 days of January were well above normal with little snow.
Then we embarked on about 7 weeks of truly tough winter, from Jan. 18 to March 7 - although those seven weeks ranked among the coldest and snowiest for that time of year, likely making the whole winter seem worse than it was. February saw record snowfall for the month in Duluth, and some daily record cold temperatures hit with the Polar Vortex. Duluth went more than three days without going above zero - Jan. 29-31 - some 57 days without temperatures going above freezing - Jan. 9 to March 7 - and 67 days between 40-degree highs - from Jan. 5 to March 11. We haven't seen 50 degrees since Oct. 24.
But that could change by the end of next week.