NOAA Spring outlook highlights extremes in precipitation and temperature across the U.S.

Posted at 12:24 PM, Mar 21, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) – It doesn’t look or feel like Spring based on Virginia’s weather today, but sunny, warmer, muggier days are to come! Just…not until after March, folks.

So what does the Spring U.S. Outlook look like for Virginia? Good news for those of you who want to rebound from our abnormally cold March weather! Virginia’s weather pattern will favor our more typical southerly flow, which means we’ll shift the pendulum from a colder pattern to a warmer pattern. As in, warmer-than-average for April, May and June. (Remember me talking about the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation in a previous blog posting? Those are on track to surge back into the neutral or positive phase by early April.)

Climate Prediction Center

Climate Prediction Center


This doesn’t mean we won’t experience the typical ups and downs associated with frontal passages through Spring, but we won’t be talking about today’s kind of chill for much longer.

As for precipitation, we should trend near-average for our Spring months. And with so much moisture since December, it’s unlikely even a dry spell would allow drought conditions to creep back in before Summer.


Although Winter rain and snow in Virginia erased our drought, it continues across half of the country.  Fifty-one percent of the continental U.S. (you can see the central and western regions are hardest-hit) is in moderate to exceptional drought.


Of interest elsewhere in the country is the potential for flooding in eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, an area that just two years ago was impacted by major to record flooding during the Spring of 2011:



The outlook statement about that part of the country says, “the Red River of the North between eastern North Dakota and northwest Minnesota, and the Souris River in North Dakota have the potential for moderate and major flooding. Devils and Stump Lakes in northeast North Dakota have a 50 percent chance of rising approximately two feet, which would flood 20,000 acres of farmland and roadways.”

What’s with the other areas of flood threat? We in Virginia can relate to the late-Winter/early-Spring chill! That same colder weather resulting from a persistent jet stream track diving from Canada through the Southern Plains into the Deep South has also meant more snow to that part of the Midwest in the upper Mississippi River Basin. Spring snow-melt will filter downstream, combining with Springtime heavier rains and thunderstorms to potentially flood areas into the Deep South.

We can also peer beyond Spring to the transition into Summer with this advanced peek of the May, June & July combined Temperature and Precipitation Outlook:



In case you’re wondering, these outlooks are based on a recipe of ingredients including the North American snowpack, drought, soil moisture, streamflow, recent precipitation, Pacific Ocean temperatures (i.e., the El Nino Southern Oscillation, which is currently  ENSO-neutral), and the guidelines provided by climate forecast models.

“This outlook reminds us of the climate diversity and weather extremes we experience in North America, where one state prepares for flooding while neighboring states are parched, with no drought relief in sight,” said Laura Furgione, deputy director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, when this outlook was released today. “We produce this outlook to help communities prepare for what’s likely to come in the next few months and minimize weather’s impacts on lives and livelihoods. A Weather-Ready Nation hopes for the best, but prepares for the worst.”

“Weather can turn on a dime, so it’s important to stay tuned to the daily weather forecast. Spring weather, such as tornadoes and flash floods, develop quickly and require preparation and vigilance,” added Furgione. Get ready for spring weather threats – buy a NOAA Weather Radio, download our FREE apps, check our daily forecast, and visit FEMA’s website for preparation and safety information.

Stay with CBS 6, we’ll keep you ahead of the storm.