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Warmest Spring in Years to Fuel Active Severe Weather

By By Meghan Evans, Meteorologist
March 19, 2012, 4:17:17 AM EDT

An active severe weather season is anticipated in the U.S. during spring of 2012 with the most widespread warmth since 2004.

"As far as the forecast for the spring of 2012, we do feel like it's going to be a mild spring for most of the nation from the eastern Rockies into the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes area," Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the Long-Range Forecasting Team, said. "At least two-thirds of the nation could wind up with above-normal temperatures."

The Northeast will be mild to start, while the central Plains and western Texas will be a particularly warm zone this spring.

An exception to the mild weather will be the Pacific Northwest, where temperatures will be below normal.

Active Severe Weather Season Forecast
An above-normal number of tornadoes is forecast for this season with water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico running above normal for this time of year. The active severe weather season follows a deadly year with a near-record number of tornadoes in 2011.

Typically, 1,300 tornadoes strike the U.S. a year. There were nearly 1,700 tornadoes in 2011, falling short of the record 1,817 tornadoes set in 2004.

Rounds of wet weather with an active start to the severe weather season are in store for the Deep South, including eastern Texas and the Gulf states, during March.

The rain early in the season will be beneficial for drought-stricken areas, including southern portions of Louisiana, Mississippi, southern Alabama, southwestern Georgia and the western Florida Panhandle. Near-normal precipitation is expected in this zone for the entire spring.

"Areas that seemed to miss out on frequent severe weather last year may see an uptick this year," Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.

More frequent bouts of rain and severe weather will migrate northward to the mid-Mississippi and Ohio valleys, which were not hit as hard as the Deep South in 2011, mainly during April and May.


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