Spring Outlook: Expect Changeable Weather

All right…reading the headline is sort of a “DUH” moment.  It will be spring.  We expect changeable weather.

Let’s put this into more context though.

There’s no major, global weather pattern like El Nino or La Nina that screams for our weather to be biased warm or cold, wet or dry.  There are indications that an El Nino weather pattern could develop this year; if that happens, any ramifications in our overall weather would be seen more toward fall and winter.

So for now, some natural variability takes over.  When the Climate Prediction Center issues “near-normal” outlooks for our precipitation…that really means we have as much chance of being above-normal as we do of being below-normal.  We could go either way.  In fact, we could even end up nowhere near normal!  An above-normal temperature outlook means our chances are higher of seeing a warmer spring than a colder one.  Doesn’t mean we won’t be colder…it’s just a bit less likely.

Also remember that these are averages over a three-month period.  If it’s cold and nasty in March, a warm May would offset that in the grand scheme of things.

Two things to watch out for.

First…we’ll likely spend the first part of March in some continuation of the weather pattern we’ve been seeing lately.  Overall, that means we’ll be prone to some cold air pushes, interspersed with the occasional warm days.  Kind of a slow, intermittent start to spring.  We’ve also seen a relatively active pattern lately; if that holds, expect storm systems every couple of days…some larger than others.  If the colder air is winning out, that greatly limits our severe threat.

Signs are pointing to a general pattern change as spring unfolds that would reduce the chances of cooler than average temperatures.  With warmer air comes better chances of deeper Gulf moisture; assuming we’re not lodged under a big ridge of high pressure (that is not looking likely right now), the jet stream won’t be too far away.  That means ample opportunity for storm systems to move through, and perhaps boosting our severe weather threat.

As we shift from one dominant weather pattern type to another, it’s relatively common to get a rather big storm system or two to herald that change.  This would also lean us in favor of a period of some more active spring weather.

As we get later into spring, an early-summer pattern would try to work in, meaning our best chance for above-average temperatures would be later in spring as opposed to earlier…and that the main storm track would be pushing to our north, easing severe threats.

So my main worry here: the table could be set for more active spring weather than what we’ve seen the past couple of years.  Last year, it was late spring into summer that brought us our big rain and higher severe potential…that severe potential may be larger and earlier this year.  On this, I want to be wrong.

Worry two:  sometimes it’s tough to get out of persistent weather patterns.  And we’ve been in one across the East this winter…with more days of cooler weather than of warmer weather.  It’s entirely possible that this pattern could linger a bit longer than anticipated.  This could bias our spring a little colder than expected…this could reduce severe potential if it stuck around long enough.  My thinking is that it would simply delay that period of active weather from late-March/April back into May.

The bottom line:  Wobbly weather patterns are conducive to temperature swings and big storm systems.  And the potential is there for this spring to be a bit more wobbly in our area than the past couple of springs.  Something to watch for…

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