The Ottumwa Courier

AP National

March 21, 2014

Spring forecast: Cool in North, still dry in West

The first day of spring? Some people in Maine were shoveling six inches of new snow. And in Michigan, college students couldn't even burn a snowman.

OK, so it was a fake snowman. But it was real snow that got in the way.

For many Americans, it feels like winter is hanging on like a bad cold.

And now government forecasters are predicting a cooler-than-usual spring across the northern U.S. Even just next week, frigid Arctic air is expected to blanket parts of the East.

"This is one of those winters — the gift that keeps on giving," said Jon Gottschalck of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The stubborn cold is delaying any flooding into April in the upper Midwest to New England. While major flooding is not expected during the next three months, forecasters said the greatest threat exists in the southern Great Lakes because of above-normal snowpack, thick ice on streams and rivers, and snow on the ground.

Experts warned of possible isolated flooding in certain areas depending on how fast snow melts and how much rain falls.

After a miserable winter, residents in parts of Maine dug out again on the first day of spring. The snowfall knocked out power to some.

"I'm just looking forward to not bundling up," said 33-year-old Rich Maggi, while taking a smoke break in the downtown Portland area where the snow had melted by midday. "I think this was hard on even the most winter-hardened people."

Prolonged wintry weather forced a Michigan university to delay a yearly rite of spring — the burning of a fake snowman — after the campus was blanketed with five inches of snow overnight on top of knee-deep drifts.

Officials at Lake Superior State University in Michigan's Upper Peninsula near the Canadian border said the snow and high winds raised safety concerns, and the ceremony was moved to Friday.

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