A Slow Start to Spring.

Mar 16, 2014

After a brutal winter dominated by frequent visits from the dreaded polar vortex, and more snow days for kids than parents probably cared to deal with, spring has been slow to arrive. While meteorological spring begins on March 1st, the equinox (the actual start of spring) isn’t set to arrive for a few more days. Often March’s arrival is when peoples patience for winter runs out, including my own. I can deal with winter from December through February, but by this point, I am ready for warmth and the return of storms.

Both have been slow to arrive this year, aside from the tornadoes on February 20th in Illinois (a seemingly odd and misplaced event given the pattern we’ve been in lately) there hasn’t been much warmth or severe weather to talk about. Obviously, its only March 16th, hardly the peak of severe weather and tornado season. So for weather enthusiasts such as myself, its foolish to sound the panic alarm. For normal people who prefer the weather not to be stormy, this is a good thing. But for most of us who would rather have warm than cold weather, it has been agonizingly chilly this year.

Sadly that trend looks to continue, as the pattern responsible for driving it much of winter looks to continue into the immediate future, at least into April. Even the CPC (Climate Prediction Center) hints at this trend lasting all the way to summer in their 3 month temperature outlook.

 

The good news is, that as we move later in the year, below average temperatures become more tolerable. 10 degrees below normal in May isn’t the same bone chill as 10 degrees below January. As far as severe weather goes, the overall pattern doesnt appear one to support big outbreaks either. Obviously below average temps mean a more stable atmosphere, and such a pattern is typically driven by an east coast troughing pattern (a west coast one is what is normally needed for prolific severe weather setups.)

Right now I see no signs of either of these things chasing. The GFS hints at a typical spring battle in the coming weeks with frequent fluctations between seasonably mild and below normal temperatures.  In fact, the fantasy range can now peer into April, which looks more like December…

There is definitely way more blue on this map than I prefer to see, and while internet critics will be quick to point out its foolish to look at any forecast model beyond 72 hours let alone all the way at 384 (16 days away!) they’re not all that UN-reliable, as long as you know how to properly interperate them and not over-analyze.

The bottom line, the overall pattern doesn’t look to change in the coming weeks. The pattern will largely be dominated by below normal temperatures and what looks like lots of rainy precipitation with limited severe weather. So as always there is nothing to do but wait, and find other ways to spend our days.

It is interesting to note though, when comparing local weather history, a similar pattern such as the one we’ve dealt with this past winter, hasn’t occurred in over 30 years, dating back to the 70s, during a time when tornadic activity was above normal in the area as well. I believe it takes one extreme to cancel out another. Sooner or later the switch will flip…and when it does…be ready.

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