Spring forecast: Warmer than average, spans of active weather expected
Last fall, the Stormtrack Weather Team was predicting a cold and snowy end to winter in anticipation of a moderate La Nina. The season entered and ended like lion with two severe weather outbreaks before Christmas, and most of our seasonal snowfall in February.
Total snowfall was up about 4 and a half inches, and Columbia was about 4 degrees warmer than normal for meteorological winter. We welcomed spring by shattering record highs on March 2nd, when much of Mid-Missouri soared into the low 80s.
The La Nina pattern that made our weather so variable and active this winter looks to hold on through spring, with the jet stream cutting through the Midwest and sending disturbances our way through the next few months.
This spring, we are expecting temperatures to be above average across much of the country, with above normal precipitation expected in Mid-Missouri and through the Ohio Valley. Typically we see just under 12" of rain
between March and May, and an average temperature of about 54 degrees. Since 1970, our average spring temperature has increased almost three degrees in Columbia, and the number of days with above average temperatures has increased by 12 in the past 50 years.
Despite the above average snowfall in February, parts of western Missouri have been abnormally dry for weeks, and so has the Missouri Basin. Much of Iowa, Nebraska, and Kansas has been lacking in the rain department for the last month, and snow cover across the upper Midwest isn't very vast. Both factors point to a low risk for flooding on the Missouri this spring, but short-term flooding on tributaries will be possible with springtime storm systems.
The green markers on the map below indicate points along the Missouri River that will stay below flood stage. The orange and red markers indicate locations on smaller rivers that have a 50% chance of exceeding either minor or moderate flood stage over the next three months.
With a continued La Nina pattern in place, we can expect temperatures to be warmer than average. Warm air from the Gulf of Mexico will get pulled in from the south to fuel storms and make for some humid days. Much like the winter, we'll be watching for frequent rounds of rain and strong storms, along with stretches of warm temperatures. These spans of active weather will be balanced by dry and cool snaps in between.