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When Will this Winter End?

WTVO / WQRF – Consistent snow and below zero temperatures have already made this winter seem endless. A few weather ingredients have come together perfectly to perpetuate this never-ending winter.
WTVO / WQRF – Snow banks higher than an SUV and blizzard-force winds. There's no question it's been a brutal winter--but are there any signs of relief?    Northern Illinois University Meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste explains the problem, “In terms of consistently mild air, it's going to take quite a while for this pattern to break out and change . . . If you've got snow cover on the ground, at least several inches, and you're entrenched in a jet stream pattern like we are, basically, you're stuck in it for quite a long time."

The jet stream divides air masses, and right now the Stateline is in the cold sector, tapping into air from the Arctic Circle.  But Mitch Olson, organizer of the Groundhog Day celebration in Woodstock says Willie the Groundhog has been a lucky charm in the past, “It's been overcast the last couple years."

That means spring's come early.  Unfortunately, that doesn't look like it'll be the case this year.  Sebenste says, “We had quite an early snow pack throughout Canada and the northern U.S. And that snow pack just built further and further south as November and December went on."

But even if Willie sees his shadow, the groundhog is just like most of us: he wants those warmer temps.  If he's cold? Well, bad things can happen. Olson recalls a past Groundhog Day, “A couple years ago, he was irritated that he was inside.  So when he gets irritated, he springs out of his lair and he went shooting across the stage."

So if a groundhog can't tell us when the cold will end, how bout a degreed meteorologist? Sebenste says, “Even though we may break this extremely cold pattern in about a week, the general pattern of the jet stream...may not change until mid-February at the earliest."

Temps will start to moderate by this weekend.  But in terms of tapping into consistently mild air, well we'll have to wait until at least mid-February for that.
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