53 / 39
      65 / 42
      71 / 51

      A Three-week Thaw: February 1984

      A deep western trough should produce a storm later next week. Upper Michigan may wind up on the warm side of this system.

      The temperature reached a record-breaking 43 degrees on Valentine??s Day 1984. This spring-like February day followed a warm storm that brought nearly an inch of rain to Iron Mountain the day before and 1.65 inches over two days to the National Weather Service (NWS) site near Negaunee.

      The winter of 1983-84 was the third coldest on record up through the third week of January. This winter was running just behind it in fourth place. That winter 30 years ago got off to a severe start with a bitter cold wave just before Christmas 1983. Six record lows were set over the week leading up to the 25th; including a bone-chilling 28 degrees below zero on December 20, 1983??the coldest December temperature of record at the NWS. The same morning Ironwood fell to 36 below zero. January continued the cold pattern coming in 3.1 degrees below the long-term average. The first week of February was still wintry with over 20 inches of snow on the 4th and 5th, and then the pattern flipped (Images 1 and 2 above). The cold air retreated and mild Pacific air took over. Low pressure came up from the southwest, but the air, even in the cold sector of the low, was too warm for snow. The rainstorm moved out and was followed by more mild Pacific air and the record-warm Valentine??s Day.

      The generally mild pattern remained, though it began cooling a bit during the fourth week of the month after a remarkable 57-degree high on the 22nd. However, it still remained above average until the last day of the February 1984. The month ended a remarkable 11 degrees above average. On eight days, the high temperature reached 40 or above. Remarkably, the snow cover at the NWS shrunk from a high of 39 inches on the 6th, to 16 inches the 18th.

      Believe it or not, there is a possibility of a rain storm or at least rain or freezing rain mixed with snow later next week. A trough is forecast to develop over the western U.S. (Image 3). A strong low should come out of the trough later next week and head right for Upper Michigan. A surge of warm air could come up with the low, too. The warming looks brief, however. The pattern we??ve been caught in much of this winter is forecast to emerge again later in the month.