Colder-than-Normal Spring for Northern US

March 4, 2011; 6:03 AM ET
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Play video For more details from Pastelok on the chilly weather expected this spring, click on this video.

In the Spring 2011 Forecast, Paul Pastelok, leader of the Long-Range Forecasting Team, expects a core of colder-than-normal conditions to persist in areas from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Plains.

However, he warned that occasional cold shots will also make it into the East through mid-March. For the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, which had an unusually warm spring last year, this spring will be much cooler.

As for precipitation, the stormy areas this season will generally stay concentrated over the Pacific Northwest and Midwest.

While temperatures are predicted to average out near normal in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, this spring is likely to seem cool compared to the record warmth experienced in spring 2010.

What to Expect This Spring in the East

In contrast to the unrelenting colder-than-normal conditions that gripped the East December through the first half of February, Pastelok said there will be more back-and-forth between cold shots and warm-ups from here on out.

What will perhaps be most noticeable for people across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic is the fact that this spring is expected to be much cooler than last year's, which featured record warmth in March and April and above-normal warmth in May.

In the interior Northeast, Pastelok cautioned that a longer period of colder weather could make a comeback from the second into the third week of March.

It will be cold enough to support snow in the interior Northeast during this time. Therefore, storms that move through areas from upstate New York into New England could add to the snowpack across the region.

Pastelok said that the cold shots should start relaxing in the East later in March or early April, though there is concern for some cooling from the Great Lakes into the mid-Atlantic in May.

In the Northeast, temperatures are generally expected to average out near or slightly below normal for the season. Near-normal precipitation is expected throughout much of the region as well, though areas near the Great Lakes are forecast to be wetter than average.

Meanwhile, temperatures across much of the Southeast should average above normal this spring, especially in areas closer to the Gulf Coast and lower Mississippi Valley. Below-average precipitation is predicted for much of the region, though areas of the Tennessee and mid-Mississippi valleys are expected to be wetter than normal.

A Monthly Breakdown for the Northern Plains and West

Temperatures across the northern Plains and Pacific Northwest, as well as much of the West Coast in general, are expected to average out below normal for the month of March.

Pastelok said that while there can be warm-ups in the interior West throughout the month, they will likely be brief.

Below-normal temperatures are forecast for the northern tier of the West, Rockies and Plains in April as well. However, in the West, Pastelok said that temperatures may end up trending closer to normal, especially in southern portions of the region.

May is when temperatures are expected to recover more across areas farther north from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Rockies and northern Plains. Parts of the northern Plains could even end up above normal for the month of May.

Above-normal precipitation is predicted for the Pacific Northwest from extreme northwestern California into western Oregon and much of Washington this spring. This means people in these areas can expect more rain and mountain snow.

Elsewhere across the West, precipitation is forecast to be near normal from the northern Rockies into the Great Basin and northern California, and below normal throughout the Southwest.

Much of the Midwest is expected to be stormy this spring with above normal precipitation, which will vary between rain and snow. Farther west, near- or below-normal precipitation is predicted across much of the Plains.


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