Spring Outlook

Once again I was asked by the State Climatologist in North Dakota to write a summary to what I expect for the upcoming season.  What I wrote can be found below.  It can also be found in the State Climate Bulletin to be published soon.


Spring and autumns are always the most difficult to forecast because of large swings that can and do occur on both daily and weekly time scales.  Plus, with so much cold elsewhere on the planet, this spring in particular has the potential for giant swings from warm to cold.  These temperature swings can also lead to prolong periods of dry weather intermixed with brief periods of significant precipitation.

Using that as a backdrop, after a mild March that may end up as one of the warmest on record for the region, April looks to be transitioning to colder weather, followed by a near average May.  That would mean, overall, an above average temperature for the season, but we always need to remember, that does not mean consistently above average and a poorly timed cold front can easily hamper the planting season.

Although historically when a La Nina is present is the Pacific, this area has a higher than normal likelihood of recording above average precipitation in the spring, the current La Nina is fading quickly and therefore, the odds favor this season to finish nearer to the long-term average for rain and late season snowfall.  If that forecast holds, it would be a welcome change from the excessive spring moisture many areas have recorded in recent years.

The latest spring outlook from the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) for the next three months can be seen below.The CPC is forecasting a slightly higher than normal probability of above average temperatures and equal changes of above, below or normal precipitation. You can find the current and future outlooks, when new ones become available, athttp://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/90day.


Also, the North Dakota State Climate Office has links to the National Weather Service’s local 3-month temperature outlooks for the upcoming year. Those forecasts can be found at:http://www.ndsu.edu/ndsco/outlook/L3MTO.html.