Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Swinging into Spring Today's the Official End of the Winter That Wasn't

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Swinging into Spring Today's the Official End of the Winter That Wasn't

Article excerpt

While students in tube tops sunbathed on concrete lounge chairs at Point Park University Monday, workers a couple of blocks away Downtown were still dismantling the ice rink at PPG Place.

"It's kind of crazy," said Remington Brooks, a 21-year-old junior enjoying the weather Monday at Point Park University, "but I'm not complaining."

Today is the first day of spring, but it seemed like summer in 75- degree Pittsburgh Monday, with magnolia blossoms unfurled and beach blankets spread out in Point State Park.

The day was the final one of a winter that never seemed to get started.

Though the winter felt astonishingly warm -- coming on the heels of two years of brutal snowfests -- in actuality, it was the 18th warmest in 140 years of record-keeping, said Fred McMullen, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service. The average temperature for December, January and February of 35.23 was 4.8 degrees above normal.

"Essentially what happened was that we just had a system where the cold air just stayed locked up in Canada," he said. "All those systems stayed to our north and stayed to our west."

Temperatures in March thus far have been remarkably warm, with high temperatures for the month as a whole running 10.5 degrees above average. Average low temperatures in recent days have been as much as 25 degrees above average.

The temperature of 77 degrees on St. Patrick's Day smashed the old record of 73 degrees, set in 1945.

And the seven consecutive days of temperatures 70 degrees or above mark the longest stretch of days that warm in March since at least 1990.

The warm streak should continue through the work week, with the possibility of the thermometer hitting 80 degrees today through Thursday, said Mr. McMullen (the record high for today and Wednesday is 79 degrees).

The strong area of high pressure that is causing the unusually warm weather should lift by the weekend, said Mr. …

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