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2018 U.S. Spring | Precipitation and Temperature Outlook

Spring Forecast 2018 and exclusive sneak peek at summer

Dr. Doug Gillham
Meteorologist, PhD

Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 5:00 - Spring is a temperamental season, as winter struggles to hang on against the inevitable building warmth that comes with the higher sun angle and increasing daylight.

“While dramatic swings in weather are a normal part of the season, this spring looks to have a particularly volatile mood,” said Chris Scott, Chief Meteorologist with The Weather Network. 

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Spring temperature pattern

While most of the country will be warmer than normal for the spring as a whole, the season will get off to a slow and even wintry start for some areas. This will be especially true east of the Rockies and in the Pacific Northwest, where winter will take several parting shots before more consistent warmth can get established. A few high-impact winter storms are likely, including the threat for a Nor’easter or two along the Eastern Seaboard. 

Once we get into April, a more consistent warm pattern will become established but colder weather will still fight back at times along the northern tier of the country. 

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Spring precipitation pattern

An active storm track is expected for the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes, Midwest and parts of the Northeast, bringing above normal precipitation to these regions. We do not expect more rainy days than normal, but the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean are much warmer than normal and systems that tap into moisture from these regions will bring heavy rainfall at times. Therefore, flooding will continue to be a concern during the spring season. 

There are also indications that the northern Plains will have a wetter-than-normal spring, but confidence is lower in this region. Above normal rainfall certainly would be welcome and beneficial for the Northern Plains after a dry summer last year followed by a dry winter and amid growing concerns of a dry pattern for the upcoming summer.

While a wet spring is expected for parts of the northern third of the country, the bigger story of the spring may end up being the expanding and increasingly severe drought conditions across the Southwest and southern and central Plains. These regions had a very dry winter and this pattern is expected to dominate the spring season and continue into the summer while expanding further north and east. 

A very warm and dry spring is expected across much of California, Texas, and Florida. An early start to the wildfire season and significant impacts to agriculture are likely. While Florida will likely see a wetter pattern as we head into summer, no relief is expected for California or Texas as a hot and dry pattern will get established early and dominate the summer.

Preliminary look ahead to summer

We expect a hot summer for most of the country, with above-normal temperatures dominating the months of June, July, and August. The one region that appears least likely to see a hot summer is centered on the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes. To some extent, this resembles the pattern we saw last summer. However, we expect that this summer will be hotter than last summer across the Southeast, and even the Great Lakes region should experience more hot weather than they did last year.  

Potentially one of the biggest stories of the summer will be the worsening drought conditions across western and central parts of the United States, with a significant impact on agriculture and wildfires. As we develop our final summer forecast we will be closely analyzing the threat for these drought conditions to extend further north and east.

SUMMER SNEAK PEEK BELOW: Preliminary look ahead to summer

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