After a 14-day stretch of below-freezing temperatures last month, we've started this spring with several days above average, hinting at a continued La Niña pattern over the next few months.
La Niña refers to the global cycle marked by cooler than average ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. We have been in a moderate La Niña this winter, as evidenced by the wild temperature swings we have had since December.
This pattern is expected to continue through late spring, before returning to neutral this summer.
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In a La Niña spring, warm and wet conditions are present over Missouri. The jet stream will be a bit more amplified, meaning storms could develop farther north. The polar jet sets up farther south where warm, moist air lies and the pacific jet is farther north, pulling that warmer and more humid air north to create an environment ripe for storm development.
Another interesting development is the ongoing dry conditions to our west and southwest. The jet stream could draw warm, dry air from this region and keep a lid on storms until nighttime, allowing for more nocturnal thunderstorm outbreaks.
Warmer than average temperatures are expected through May, but for now the precipitation outlook is nearly normal for Mid-Missouri. The average spring temperature for March through May is 54.5 degrees while rain averages to 12.38".
With the overall climate pattern not changing much this spring, we can expect warmer temperatures with near-normal rain. However, with an active jet stream, we'll have to stay alert for an increase in severe weather outbreaks. Significant river flooding isn't expected, but smaller local rivers and streams could be impacted by those rounds of thunderstorms.
Many of us can agree we're ready for spring to stay after the February deep freeze, but it's important to have a plan for severe weather. Make sure to review where your family should take shelter, and have a way to receive warnings at all hours of the day. The ABC 17 Stormtrack Weather app is a great resource that can be downloaded for free on the Google or Apple app stores.