Spring weather often feels like taking one step forward, then two steps back. This is how this spring should unfold.
CONNECTICUT, USA – This winter in southern New England has been a wild ride so far. New Years Day brought rain with temperatures in the 50s, followed by a blizzard in late January and record heat in February.
Now that it’s March, you might be thinking ahead, thinking about putting away the shovels and getting the golf clubs out.
The spring season
We have two definitions for seasons. In the meteorological world, weather or climatological seasons are determined by temperature cycles. The coldest three-month period is winter. The hottest period is summer.
The meteorological spring is March, April and May.
Then, that of our calendars: the astronomical seasons, which all concern the position of the Earth in relation to the sun.
Astronomical spring begins this year on March 20, with the vernal equinox. It is the day when the sun’s rays pass directly over the equator and the Earth’s axis tilts the northern hemisphere towards the sun.
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Season of change
Spring is a season of change. It snows in March. On average, the last inch of snow falls March 11 on the Bridgeport shoreline. Naturally, that’s later inland. In the Hartford area, the last inch of snow falls on average on March 23.
Late spring can often bring great heat to southern New England. However, there can be a big temperature difference between the shore and the hills.
The first 90-degree day inland occurs on average in mid-May, but it often takes until summer on shore, thanks to that spring sea breeze.
The science behind this spring’s outlook
La Niña has been a major factor in Rachel’s outlook for this winter, which has worked out well.
Here’s what the average weather pattern looks like during a La Niña winter:
Here is the temperature pattern this winter:
Looks a lot like La Niña, which is expected to persist for a month or two, then turn into “La Nada”, or near-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific. This weakening of La Niña is expected to occur in April or May.
There are signs both in long-term computer modeling and using “analog” years (comparing this year’s model to that of previous years) that the jet stream may be favoring a trough in the eastern United States during the month of April. This would result in cooler than average temperatures.
It’s quite rare to have consistent, month-to-month weather that’s colder than average these days. Climate change is a factor.
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However, spring is actually our slowest warming season in southern New England, so a slow transition from winter to summer is still very common.
The Climate Prediction Center suggests there is a reasonable chance for above average temperatures here in Connecticut for the three month period. We think May has the best chance of increasing the score.
Below is an overview of the average temperature for the month (average of all the highs and lows together). March will likely be close to average. April is cooler than average. Then there is hope that May will roll out with warmer than average weather.
What about rainfall?
It’s a bit more cloudy.
The Climate Prediction Center says there is equal opportunity for above or below normal rainfall here in New England this spring. Basically flip a coin.
There doesn’t seem to be a strong signal that we will have a wet or dry spring. Getting out of a La Niña pattern could be one of them.
So far this year, precipitation has been near average in the Hartford area. So, we are going to suggest that this trend continues in the spring. Undoubtedly, there will be wet and wetter periods. Spring can be gloomy around here. However, we should land near the 11 inches of precipitation that occurs on average.
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Seasonal forecasting is a challenge. When we try, we do our best, but realize that a little humility is needed. We don’t have all the answers. The weather can and will do its thing by the end of the season.
The bottom line? I think a good theme is that this spring will feel like we’re taking one step forward and sometimes two steps back.
The shoulder seasons, spring and fall, can even be more difficult to predict than winter and summer.
We’ll see how it all ends. In the meantime, stick with the FOX61 Weather Watch team. We accompany you, whatever the season.
Ryan Breton is a meteorologist at FOX61 News. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and instagram.
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