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Warmer than normal spring predicted for LI

Arun Bhardwaj of Roslyn, 17, left, puts a

Arun Bhardwaj of Roslyn, 17, left, puts a ball up over his friend, Jae Jun of Roslyn, 18, as they practice their shooting on a slushy basketball court in Roslyn's Christopher Morley Park. (Feb. 12, 2013) Credit: Barry Sloan

Despite the recent dip in temperatures, Long Island's winter so far has been milder than most, with higher than average temperatures in December and January, the National Weather Service said.

And those higher temperatures may continue -- forecasters predict a warmer than normal spring.

With one month to go before winter ends, February's average temperature in Islip, up to Tuesday, is 29.8, which is 2.2 degrees below normal for the period, said Joe Pollina, meteorologist with the weather service in Upton.

But December's monthly average temperature was 40.5, which is 4.9 degrees above normal, and January's average was 33.1, up 2.5 degrees over normal.

Despite the season's mild temperatures, much of the Island has seen above-average snowfall totals, thanks to the Feb. 8-9 blizzard, which dumped 27.8 inches of snow in Islip. Medford saw 33.5 inches of snow from that storm, while Upton recorded 30.9. Until then, Islip's snowfall had been below average, and the storm "brought us from a snow deficit to a snow surplus for the season," Pollina said.

Snowfall in December -- 0.6 inch -- was 5.4 inches below normal, and January's 3.3 inch measurement was 3.4 inches below normal, according to weather service figures.

Looking ahead to the rest of February, the weather service projects an equal chance that temperatures will be higher than, lower than or just at normal, Pollina said.

But, with an eye to spring, just a month away, the chance is 40 percent to 50 percent that the area will see above average -- rather than normal or lower than normal -- temperatures for March, April and May, he said. Islip's average temperature is 39.6 in March, 49.5 in April and 58.9 in May, according to the weather service.

In the short term, the weather service issued a hazardous weather outlook Wednesday morning, warning of the possibility of snow accumulation for the area Saturday into Sunday morning.

As of late afternoon, however, Pollina said that models indicated the precipitation would likely be "more in the way of rain than snow," starting late morning to early afternoon Saturday and ending possibly as late as Sunday afternoon for those in eastern Long Island.

Still, if the storm tracks farther east than currently expected, it would bring in colder air off the ocean, and snow would be back in the picture, he said.

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