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      Feb. 21, 2000: Spring Begins

      The upper air pattern on February 21, 2000 showed a mild westerly flow over Canada and the northern U.S.

      Spring began on February 21, 2000. The month started wintry with below average temperatures and frequent snows near Lake Superior. The National Weather Service near Negaunee measured a 40-inch snow cover on February 16, 2000. Through the first 19 days of the month, the temperature averaged around a degree-and-a-half below the long-term standard. Then the pattern began to change. A cold air mass which dominated all of Canada and the northern United States faded as a mild Pacific air flow invaded the North American continent (Image 1 above). The cold air drained out of Canada and spring began.

      The NWS reached 47 degrees on February 21. The rest of the month temperatures stayed way above normal. Iron Mountain reached 57 on the 27th, while Ironwood topped out at 55. The last nine days of February 2000 came in 22.2 degrees above average!

      As warm as the end of February was, it was just a warm up for what would occur the first eight days of March 2000.

      This year the end of February will be much different than 13 years ago. While not brutally cold, the overall pattern argues for a continuation of wintry weather into early March. Strong blocking high pressure is forecast over the North Atlantic into a good share of Canada (Image 2). This type of pattern keeps the storm track suppressed over North America and keeps general high pressure over Canada which is a cold signal for us.