Spring Outlook Predicts Drought And Warmth

spring outlook will be dry and warm

The Spring Outlook for the next three months was issued today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In this age of global warming, it’s probably no surprise that they have predicted a warmer-than-average spring, with higher than normal temperatures coming to most of the continental US and northern Alaska. Hawaii, oddly enough, may enjoy cooler temperatures than normal.

Two serious concerns are drought and flood. The drought of 2012 hasn’t really broken in some regions of the country, and NOAA noted that 51 percent of the country is currently considered to be in a state of drought. They believe that the drought will continue in most of those areas and that more areas of drought will develop, including in California, Texas, Florida, the southern Rockies, and the Southwest.

They especially cautioned North Dakota, predicting that the state has a number of rivers that could flood this year.

Wednesday was the official first day of spring, but it couldn’t come too early for some people. A different sort of spring outlook really dropped the ball earlier this year. On Groundhog Day on Feb. 2, the famous weather predicting groundhog Punxsutawney Phil emerged from his burrow, saw no shadow, and thus declared an early spring. By his forecast, we should have been just finishing up those six weeks of early spring right about now.

Instead, many parts of the nation suffered through an unusually cold, miserable February and early March. As Jeff Masters for Weather Underground wrote yesterday, “It’s the first day of spring, but winter remains firmly entrenched over the eastern half of the U.S., where temperatures of 5 – 25°F below average have been the rule all week.” He blamed an unusual movement in the jet stream, which brought the cold air streaming into this country while allowing Greenland to enjoy some unusual warmth.

Masters laughed off the poor predictive powers of what is, after all, a rodent who lives in a hole in the ground. But some people are pretty fired up about it.

Butler County, Ohio’s prosecuting attorney Michael Gmoser allegedly filed a complaint against Punxsutawney Phil asking for the death penalty because, “contrary to the Groundhog Day report, a snowstorm and record low temperatures have been and are predicted to continue in the near future, which constitutes the offense of MISREPRESENTATION OF EARLY SPRING.”

I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting Phil to show up for his court date, but I think we’re all ready for a more positive spring outlook.

[garden beds photo by Elaine Radford]