Wintry weather this weekend not all that unusual

Friday, March 27, 2009 | 2:21 p.m. CDT; updated 4:53 p.m. CDT, Friday, March 27, 2009

COLUMBIA — This weekend's forecast is calling for weather that might seem anything but spring-like. However, climatologists say it isn't all that unusual for this time of year.

At noon Friday, the forecast called for occasional thunderstorms Friday evening with a chance of 1 to 2 inches of precipitation and a low of 35 degrees. Saturday's forecast calls for an 80 percent chance of snow with accumulations between 3 and 5 inches, which is roughly an inch of rain, along with a high of 37 degrees.

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Boone County remains under a winter storm watch through Saturday night.

"This isn't something completely atypical," said Benjamin Sipprell, a climatologist with the National Weather Service office in St. Louis. "Sometimes you still get influxes of warm and cold air masses this time of year as the seasons transition."

The National Weather Service said those accumulations would surpass the total snowfall of 3.6 inches for Columbia this winter, which is well below the seasonal average of 23.5 inches.

Sipprell said part of the reason this weekend's forecast might seem more surprising is because of the lack of snow that preceded it. As it stands, this year's accumulation is a mere 0.2 inches above the all-time low, according to records maintained by the Weather Service, which was 3.4 inches in the winter of 2005-2006.

"This type of weather pattern is something that we've seen in the past," Sipprell said. "It just seems really odd because we have had a really quiet January and February."

The Columbia/Boone County Office of Emergency Management also sent a notice Friday, warning of the possibility of flash flooding this weekend. The outlook for early next week has temperatures rising into the 60s, causing the snow to melt on already saturated ground.

The office said those traveling on roads this weekend should keep an eye on current weather conditions.

"Anyone with travel plans Saturday through Sunday needs to keep updated on the latest weather information," said James McNabb, the director for the Office of Emergency Management, in a news release. "That's especially true if your plans take you to Sedalia, Boonville or Kansas City."

For updates on road conditions, travelers can go to the Missouri Department of Transportation's Web site or call 1-888-275-6636. Updates on weather conditions are also available on the National Weather Service's Web site.

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