Please choose your default site





Forecasters face uncharted territory ahead of Spring outlook

Spring Forecast released Tuesday, February 28 on

Spring Forecast released Tuesday, February 28 on

Dr. Doug Gillham
Meteorologist, PhD

Wednesday, February 22, 2017, 11:55 - As we develop forecasts for an upcoming season, an important part of the process is looking back at years in the past that had similar global patterns, especially with regard to ocean water temperatures in the tropical Pacific.

Having a developing El Niño  would typically be helpful as this is a stronger driver of seasonal weather patterns that has happened numerous times in the past. However, to have El Niño develop so soon after one of the strongest El Niño events on record is not something that has happened since we developed the ability to track such events.

Spring Is Ahead! How will a developing El Niño  impact our spring weather? The Spring Forecast will be released Tuesday, February 28 at 6am ET on

With just being a year removed such a strong El Niño event, there is still a substantial amount of extra heat leftover in the atmosphere. Typically, when we have headed into El Niño we were also coming out a stronger La Niña of longer duration. However, the recent La Niña was weak and rather short-lived and that has left us with a unique global ocean water temperature pattern heading into our next El Niño. In some regards we are still heading out of and also heading into El Niño at the same time.  This gives some contradictory signals in the long range global patterns. 

What does all of this mean for our Spring 2017 forecast? Please check back on Tuesday, February 28 when we release our forecast for the months of March, April and May and a sneak peek at the upcoming summer season.

90-second explainer: What are El Niño and La Niña? Watch video below to find out

Follow Dr. Doug Gillham on
Punxsutawney Phil dashes hopes for an early spring
Artificial light pollution is causing spring to come early

Leave a Comment

What do you think? Join the conversation.
Default saved

Search Location