Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 22, 2014

Arctic air continues to freeze out warmth

TRAVERSE CITY -- Max Lown will head out to the woods this weekend to drill spiles, or spouts, into more than 1,000 maple trees.

Lown makes maple syrup in Kingsley, and after looking at the spring forecast, he’s cautiously optimistic about the syrup season.

“You need freezing nights and as warm a temperature as you can get in the day. It creates pressure in the tree to push the sap up in the trunk,” said Lown, who turned a family tradition into a commercial production, Lown Family Maply Syrup.

Temperatures could be a little less sweet for everyone else, and for an uncomfortably long stretch. They’re expected to be about five to 10 degrees below normal through June.

“It’s the pattern that we’re in where cold air funnels across Canada. It doesn’t really go away,” said Scott Rozanski, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Gaylord.

It might not feel like it, but Spring officially started on Thursday, when the seasonal change was marked by an even amount of day and night. The seasonal change has been accompanied by typical small clipper storms that deposit a couple of inches or snow.

The sun’s increased presence in the sky is the only warmth acting against the cold arctic air, Rozanski said.

Regular spring bird chatter persists against the cold and can be attributed to the longer days, said Katie Keen, a wildlife technician at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Black bears and other animals in hibernation also will stir with the longer days, regardless of temperatures, Keen said.

“It’s been a hard winter with colder temperatures and deeper snow, but animals can adapt,” Keen said.

Temperatures will return to the lower 20s on Sunday and Monday, and then throughout the week will trend upwards toward the low 40s, still below average.

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