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March weather ‘polar opposite’ from 2012

Mandy Lutz hopes to open the patio at the Filling Station Pub & Grill in less than two weeks for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend festivities.

But Lutz, manager at the downtown St. Charles establishment known for its popular fenced-in outdoor pad, said the likelihood of that is small, thanks to the weather forecast.

“This is not at all like last year,” Lutz said.

A year ago, residents of the Tri-Cities basked in the unexpected warmth as temperatures climbed to near 70 degrees March 6 and 7. But the late winter warm-up set the stage for the record-smashing summerlike heat to come.

“It felt so incredibly warm,” said Richard Castro, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Romeoville. “But it turned out it was just a taste of what was to come.”

By March 14, temperatures in the region had hit 80 degrees. And for the next nine days, the high temperatures never dipped below 75 degrees.

According to the National Weather Service, except for two days after March 5, 2012, daytime high temperatures in the Chicago area, including the Tri-Cities, did not dip below 50 degrees the rest of March. And 21 of last March’s 31 days featured high temperatures above 60 degrees.

“It was unprecedented heat,” Castro said.

Lutz noted last year’s weather had allowed the Filling Station to open its patio to customers for St. Patrick’s Day weekend and the weekend before, drawing swarms of customers.

This March, however, county residents should expect typical weather conditions for the month, Castro said. He noted the first five days of March featured average temperatures each day that were nine degrees below normal.

And in the wake of recent snowstorms, Castro said the weather has been “the polar opposite” of last year’s.

He said the outlook for the rest of the month calls for temperatures to only slightly moderate, climbing back to levels considered normal. And that means the warmest temperatures seen this month could be in the 50s or 40s.

“With cloud cover and rain in the forecast and melting snow cover, at least for the foreseeable future, it doesn’t look like anything like what we experienced last year is in the pipeline,” Castro said.

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