Winter and spring are having difficulty letting o of each other.
An unusual May snow could set records across the region today as the cold, soggy weather that ended April lingers into the new month.
And if the potential for a record May snow wasn't enough, the newest long-term outlook abandons previous forecasts of a warmer-than-normal month. Below-normal temperatures for May are now forecast across much of Nebraska and Iowa.
First, today's snow.
The National Weather Service has projected that 2 to 5 inches of snow could accumulate in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa by this morning, with pockets of higher amounts.
A winter weather advisory issued Wednesday night was to be in effect until 10 a.m.
The morning commute in Omaha could be slippery. Police were dealing with numerous property damage accidents late Wednesday night, with cars sliding off slick roads, including Interstates 80 and 680.
And plant lovers beware: The overnight low Friday could see temperatures dip below freezing in Omaha and elsewhere. To protect plants that can't be moved indoors, cover them with a couple of layers of sheets or a blanket.
If the snow accumulation reaches the upper range of the forecast, then records will fall.
The existing record for May snow in Omaha is 2 inches, which fell on May 9, 1945; in Lincoln, 3 inches on May 3, 1967; and Norfolk, 2.7 inches on May 28, 1947.
A daily record has already been set in northwest Iowa, the National Weather Service said. By early Wednesday evening, Sioux City had received 1.4 inches of snow, exceeding the previous May 1 record of 1 inch, set in 1911.
Barbara Mayes, meteorologist with the weather service, said the new outlook for May reflects a belief that the existing weather pattern will remain locked in place for a while.
The monthly forecast issued this week by the U.S. Climate Prediction Center projects lower-than-normal temperatures for the eastern two-thirds of Nebraska and southwest Iowa.
The good news, Mayes said, is that seasonal warming is boosting the definition of “normal” weather. Below-normal temperatures in May should feel a lot better than below-normal temps in April.
Another piece of good news: The cold weather has suppressed violent spring storms.
Accumulating May snow is rare. Available records indicate Omaha has had such snow on only four May days since 1884.
As the calendar closed on April, the numbers are starting to make official what everyone already knew — it was an unusually chilly, wet month.
Iowa saw its wettest and ninth-coldest April in 141 years of records, said state climatologist Harry Hillaker.
Similar statewide records are not yet available for Nebraska, but individual city records have been tallied.
Lincoln led eastern Nebraska cities. Last month was the ninth-coldest April in Lincoln since 1887, according to the weather service. Omaha saw its 16th-coldest and 12th-wettest April, based on records dating to 1871.
“It wasn't the coldest, but it was just such a shock to our system because last year was by far the warmest (spring),” Mayes said.
Warm weather at the start and end of April took the edge off of Omaha's chances for a record. Mid-April was another story: The two weeks of April 10 to 24 were the city's second-coldest on record, she said.
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