More Frigid Air To Come

February will be another cold month as polar jet stream follows familiar pattern.

Published on: Feb 12, 2014

If you're hoping for an early end to winter, keep on dreaming. The bitterly cold temperatures and frequent snow showers of the past two months will continue through February.

"There's really no relief in sight," says Ken Scheeringa, Indiana's associate state climatologist.

February temperatures in the Midwest will be colder than normal but may reach highs in the 40s with lows in the 20s by the end of the month, he says. Precipitation this month will be greater than normal with a continuation of weekly snow showers.

Scheeringa says that weather after February is harder to predict. Current forecasts show equal chances for above-normal, normal and below-normal temperatures.

February will be another cold month as polar jet stream follows familiar pattern.
February will be another cold month as polar jet stream follows familiar pattern.

The brutal weather this winter is due to the position of the polar jet stream, the fast-flowing air current that this year starts in northwest Canada and plunges into the central U.S., Scheeringa says. The current is unusually high this winter, forming an open "pipeline" between the Midwest and the frigid airs in Canada and the North Pole.

"That pathway was open almost all of January," he says. "We've been right in the storm track with lots of cold air and snow."

Following the jet stream are Alberta clippers - small, quickly moving storms that dump several inches of snow as they pass. Clippers moved through Indiana every few days in January with hardly a pause between storms.

While snowfall will taper off slightly this month, residents should still prepare for frequent storms, Scheeringa says.

Travelers should exercise caution and delay their journey if heavy snowfall is imminent.

"Be careful on highways," he says. "Prepare to be stuck. Pack food, emergency supplies and a snow shovel in your car. This winter is all business."