Will Spring Ever Arrive?
The winter weather of 2017-2018 has followed something of the classic La Niña effects on North America. Warm ridges over the North Pacific and in the southwestern U.S. contributed to the Polar Jet pushing low temperatures and storm tracks flowing from western Canada eastwards. The exception, however, is that colder air for the most part was pushed further east and south from November through January (ironically looking more like an ENSO-Neutral pattern as opposed to hanging out over the northern plains. Some folks in the Mid Atlantic states say they’ve had enough winter and they’re more than ready for some nice weather.
While this is all consistent with a La Niña, there are already signs that sea surface temperatures are beginning to warm. NOAA predicts that the La Niña will continue but has a ~55% chance of transitioning to ENSO-Neutral sometime between March and May.
Spring Weather Forecast
The current forecast is that much of the north central and northwestern U.S. will experience below normal temperatures going into March (and higher rates of precipitation) with southern and eastern states enjoying above-normal temperatures — particularly in New England. Precipitation is likely to remain below normal in the southern tier of states, another feature consistent with La Niña.
As the La Niña’s influence weakens, warmer temperatures will gradually make their way northward with most of the country enjoying above normal temperatures by late April.
Obviously, warmer temperatures benefit everyone’s heating bills and provides an excellent chance to shop for a new fixed rate plan because energy rates tend to hit a price trough in spring. However, it’s also important to point out to customers living in Texas and other Gulf states that ENSO-Neutral states offer somewhat less than ideal conditions for hurricane formation. And after last year’s hurricanes and flooding, Houston and other Texas coastal towns sure could use a break.
Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The current prediction favors ENSO-Neutral conditions to last through until fall, 2018.