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March 08. 2012 11:20PM

For now, cold air is locked up in Canada


Beaman Cole, an artist from Chester, listens to classical music as he paints the General John Stark Statue, at Stark Park, during a warm and sunny afternoon, on Thursday. (Thomas Roy/Union Leader)

Forecaster Eric Schwibs has some advice for snow enthusiasts.

“You can put the cross country skis away in southern New Hampshire,” said Schwibs, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine.

After experiencing its least snowy meteorological winter on record, New Hampshire saw a blast of warmth Thursday that sent the mercury into the mid-60s and set the stage for above-normal temperatures for at least the next two weeks.

Schwibs said the cold air is now locked up in Canada.

“The only thing in the immediate future that would be colder than normal would be Saturday,” he said.

Normal highs for this time of year are usually in the low 40s, but Schwibs said New Hampshire will be “doing better than that on average.”

Concord on Thursday hit 66, but it wasn't enough to shatter its record high temperature of 67 for the date set back in 1878.

While the National Weather Service doesn't issue a long-range forecast for spring, experts at AccuWeather say temperatures should be above normal over southern New Hampshire and slightly below normal in northern areas.

“For the whole spring overall we're expecting temperatures to be split right across the state,” said Jack Boston, expert senior meteorologist at AccuWeather, a weather forecasting company based in State College, Pa.

Temperatures in May are expected to be 2 to 3 degrees above average, Boston said.

As for precipitation, Boston said rainfall in New Hampshire should be about average this spring, with conditions a little drier by later in the season.

Thursday's taste of spring was good for business at Stillwell's Ice Cream in Plaistow, where chocolate and vanilla soft-serve twists were a popular item.

“We've actually had quite a busy winter because it's been so mild,” said Kyla Marcelonis, whose family operates the Plaistow shop year-round. The family owns another shop in downtown Exeter where worker Steve Markot was too busy to talk because he said there was a line “30 people deep.”

Meanwhile, forecasters said the winter that wasn't will go down in the history books.

With only 13.8 inches of snow recorded in Concord during December, January and February — the months known as “meteorological winter” — Schwibs said it was the least snowiest.

The biggest snowstorms to hit New Hampshire were the historic Halloween storm in October and one last week that dumped up to 14 inches of snow in parts of the state.

The winter was also the fifth-warmest, with an average temperature of 29 degrees in Concord.


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