Spring may be coming this month, but March so far is feeling more like winter.
Temperatures in Bend through the first week of March have been more than 20 degrees below normal, according to the National Weather Service office in Pendleton.
The high temperature for March in Bend is usually 48 degrees, and the normal low is 25 degrees, the weather service said. But this past week, the high temperatures have been about 20 degrees, and the lows are around 10 degrees.
A warming trend is in the forecast that will bring high temperatures up to 40 degrees over the next couple of weeks, said Jim Smith, meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Pendleton. The warmer temperatures are still below normal, but should be a welcome change for those ready for spring, Smith said.
“There is hope on the horizon,” he said.
The freezing temperatures in March have kept much of February’s record snowfall on the ground across Bend. The weather service does not keep snow depth records, but the one to two feet of snow still on the ground could be a record, Smith said.
Forecasts suggest the snowpack may stay on the ground through St. Patrick’s Day. One house on Fifth Street and Wilson Avenue in Bend isn’t waiting, however. On Thursday, its residents celebrated the March snowpack with a giant snowman built on the front lawn that is decorated with green St. Patrick’s Day attire.
Smith said the lingering snowpack keeps temperatures cooler, and is a reason temperatures have not warmed up in the first week of March. Rather than sunlight warming the ground in Bend, it’s reflecting off of the white snow and keeping the ground cold, Smith said.
“As long as there is good snowpack, the temperatures are going to stay cold,” he said.
The weather service recently released its monthly climate summary for February, and it proved how relentless the snowfall was last month.
Snowfall recorded in Bend totaled 45.8 inches in February, the highest amount recorded since the weather service office in Pendleton started tracking observations in 1901.
The 45.8 inches broke the previous record of 23.3 inches in February 1917.
February in Bend was cooler than normal, too — the third-coldest February on record. The coldest February in Bend was in 1989, when the average temperature for the month was 22.5 degrees, according to weather service data.
After the historic snowfall, the weather service worries that major melting will damage homes and make roads slushy and unsafe.
In this case, the forecast is calling for a gradual rise in the temperature, which means the snow will take longer to melt, Smith said.
But it’s all relative. Bend usually starts March with highs around 48 degrees and ends with temperatures in the mid-50s. By Monday, the weather service predicts a high of 39, a balmy day compared to the recent freezing weather.
“We are hoping for a gentle warmup,” Smith said. “At this time, it doesn’t look too bad. But we will have to keep a close eye on it.”
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