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Jonathan is an emergency management coordinator with a passion for all things weather. He currently lives in south-central Pennsylvania with his wife and son.

Forecast: Warm Weather Is Here to Stay

Mar 16, 2012

So long winter! This week, while some of you were charting your picks for college hoops, the National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) was charting its weather picks for the next 90-days and they are pretty confident the warm weather is here to stay.

According to the 90-day outlook, the warm weather trend which led to the fourth warmest winter on record is expected to continue through the end of June.
 
Just this week, hundreds of record highs were set across the country with temperatures climbing more than 30 degrees above normal in some areas. Many areas saw temperatures that would be considered normal in May.
 
Three Month Temperature Outlook.  Above normal temperatures (orange shading) is expected across much of the county.  The darkest oranges have the highest chance of above normal temperatures.  White shaded areas should remain near normal, while blue shading is below normal.  Image credit: NOAA.
 
In its temperature outlook, the CPC says the areas with the greatest chance of above normal temperatures include the southern states of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, with parts of Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, and Arkansas also seeing temperatures well above normal. Interestingly, these are the same areas that have seen repeated destructive severe weather outbreaks this spring.
 
Much of the country could see above normal temperatures through the end of June, with the only exception being the Pacific Northwest and parts of Alaska, where below normal temperatures are expected. The Plains states and parts of the West Coast should experience normal temperatures during the 90-day outlook.
 
Three Month Precipitation Outlook.  Shaded areas will see below normal precipitation.  Image credit: NOAA.
 
Precipitation during the next 90-days is expected to remain near normal across much of the country; however, parts of the Rockies, Gulf Coast, and Alaska are expected to receive below normal precipitation, adding to the drought conditions across parts of the country.
 
Drought Continues Across the South; Improvement Expected for Some
 
Drought conditions are expected to persist across much of the southern US through the end of June. The Seasonal Drought Outlook for the period of March 15 through June 30 is a follow up to a previous outlook issued on March 1. 
 
Since the March 1 outlook, drought conditions improved over parts of the Great Plains and Gulf Coast, while drought conditions worsened across much of Florida and the western US.
 
According to the CPC, beneficial rainfall is expected through the end of March over the Great Plains, especially southeastern Kansas, Oklahoma, and northern and central Texas. The precipitation outlook combined with "an increasingly wet climatology" will support drought improvement across parts of the Great Plains, upper Mississippi Valley, and the western Corn Belt. 
 
The National Weather Service's Climate Predicition Center issued a revised drought outlook for the period of March 15 to June 30.  Image credit: NOAA.
 
Despite an unseasonably dry winter, precipitation also returned to the Pacific Northwest and California during March. Continued improvement is expected through the end of March across the Pacific Northwest and northern California; however, the Sierra Nevada snowpack deficit is not expected to recover.
 
Unfortunately, the chances of improving drought conditions are not as high across the central and southern Plains.
 
Drought conditions are expected to persist across the Southwest and Southeast US. In the Southeast, relatively dry conditions are expected during late March and April, the CPC reported. The CPC added, it expects some improvement may begin in southern Florida late in the outlook period with the onset of the rainy season. 
 
The CPC also reported lingering drought conditions across parts of Hawaii may improve during the outlook period.
 
Flood Risk Reduced
 
NOAA's Spring flood outlook shows the lowest flood risk in four years for flood-weary residents of the Mississippi and Missouri River valleys.  Image credit:  NOAA
 
Citing a lack of snow and normal precipitation outlook, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said the flood risk for the Missouri and Mississippi Valleys is the lowest in four years.
 
While localized flash flooding is always a possibility – especially during periods of severe weather, a repeat of last year’s spring flooding is unlikely.
 
Last year, a significant snowpack and heavy rains resulted in historic flooding along the Mississippi River, as well as the Missouri and Souris rivers, ranking the flooding events with the billion dollars disasters that struck the US.
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