Until this week, Mother Nature seemed to have forgotten it is spring, hitting the region with sleet and snow when southern Illinoisans should have been starting their gardens.
The strange weather is not completely uncommon for our area, especially during the transition seasons. An average March in Southern Illinois is 54 degrees, according to currentresults.com. This March’s average was a chilly 41.2 degrees, making it the sixth-coolest March on record, according to data from the National Weather Service.
So what is the reason for this weather madness?
Dr. Justin Schoof, a geography and environmental resources professor at Southern Illinois University, said the position of the jet stream plays a key role.
“The farther south position led to colder conditions for us this year compared to other years,” he said.
Schoof said another factor is the Arctic Oscillation, which is a large-scale variation in the atmosphere.
“When this oscillation is in its negative phase, our temperatures are often lower,” said Schoof.
Local residents are dealing with the effects of our missing spring, especially in the fishing community.
“The colder spring has slowed the fish down from being active,” said Saul Monreal, a senior at SIU and an avid fisher. “They are usually biting a bit more than they are now.”
Carol Reed, owner of Cooksey’s Bait Shop in Marion, said fishing season usually begins in March. Although the fish may not be as active this spring, fishermen are still going out on their boats.
“Unless it is rainy and windy, people will still fish when it is cold,” she said.
Monreal said he has fished four times this season and has caught some smaller fish, but no big ones like bass.
According to Outdoornews.com, the bass fishing in Crab Orchard Lake has been low this March.
As the weather starts to warm up little by little, people will be able to enjoy their favorite outdoor activities again. But whether or not we will be getting a normal summer is still up in the air.
“In our part of the country, seasonal climate prediction is very difficult,” Schoof said. “The three-month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center indicates that both temperature and precipitation have a higher probability of being above normal.”