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First day of spring dampened by winter weather

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With temperatures ranging from 20 to 25 degrees below average recently, the first day of spring came and went Thursday without fanfare.

But while the thermostat may have crept above freezing this week, the National Weather Service said the north county should expect to see below-average temperatures for the next two weeks.

“The next six to ten days will definitely be below average,” said Jim Mitchell, a meteorologist at the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service.

He did offer hope that days 10 to 14 may rise up near the expected average, but are unlikely to reach it.

The average high for March 20 is 42 degrees, while the average low is 22. According to weather service forecasts, Friday and Saturday will be two of the warmest days in the next week, with a projected high of 34 degrees. Monday’s high is expected to only reach 20 degrees. Lows will drop into the teens and single digits, with a low of only 2 degrees expected for Sunday.

At 12:57 p.m. Thursday, winter officially ended and spring began, and for many, winter had worn out its welcome.

“I can’t wait for it to be over,” Watertown resident Randal Birk said. Mr. Birk, who said he lives near Maggie’s on the River restaurant on Newell Street, was walking to Community Bank on Thursday afternoon. But with temperatures in the mid-30s, snow and wind gusts of over 30 mph, Mr. Birk said he was considering taking a taxi back home.

Others out and about, such as Timothy M. Lasek, of Brownville, also were not too pleased with the unseasonable temperatures.

“I love the snow, but the cold, forget about it,” Mr. Lasek said.

Even though temperatures are well below average, the combination of rising temperatures and precipitation led the weather service to issue a statement Wednesday warning people of the potential for moving ice on Lake Ontario.

“We haven’t seen this much ice on the east end of the lake as we see now,” Mr. Mitchell said. The ice is built up on the shoreline from Mexico Bay to the St. Lawrence River.

With much of the coast under a gale warning until 5 a.m. today, he cautioned that the heavy winds could lead to ice movement. Ice fishermen or anybody else out on the frozen lake should be aware of the changing conditions and be on the lookout for cracking or separating ice, which could make a safe passage back to land impossible.

As of Thursday, there had not been any reports of large amounts of destabilized ice or any resulting flooding.

Mr. Mitchell said the north country might have to wait until April to see temperatures reach the average, and Watertown resident Shakira L. Litzner said she is none too happy.

Ms. Litzner moved to Watertown three years ago from her native northern Michigan. She said that her first two winters in Watertown were relatively mild, but that this winter “reminds me why the north country is famous for the snow.”

The weather service has issued a lake effect snow advisory for Jefferson, Lewis and Oswego counties through 5 a.m. today, bringing a possible storm total of 3 to 6 inches. An additional 1 to 3 inches of snow could fall tonight.

With that forecast, it’s no surprise some are left wondering if winter will ever end.

“It doesn’t feel like spring to me,” Mr. Lasek said.

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