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Up and down temperatures this week
are reminiscent of seasonal change
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EPAWA Spring 2016 Outlook

After a milder than average Winter marked by a “one-hit-wonder” snowfall in late January, we now turn our focus to Spring. We are seeing a decline in the influence of El Niño, which overwhelmed the pattern in the past few months. We now look forward to the growing season, warmer temperatures, and the introduction of severe weather.

We have already seen record high temperatures – in some areas reaching the the 80°F mark and beyond in the first 10 days of March! Most have assumed the early record highs would lead to an exceptionally warm Spring, or perhaps skipping most of normal Spring and transitioning right into Summer. Not the case we think… and we’ll explain below.

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Recent evolution of El Niño shows the decline of sea surface temperatures in the Niño regions 3, 3.4, and 4

ENSO

Model plume of ENSO projections shows the steady decline of El Niño heading through the Spring and Summer of 2016

EPAWA Spring 2016 Favored Analogs: 1973 and 1983

While we had our favorite analogs in Winter, some are still relevant at this point in time, and others are not. Our heavily favored 1957-1958 Winter analog lost steam quickly in the 2nd half of winter, and was replaced by more of a 1973 and 1983 look to the pattern. With the current atmospheric set-up, both years remain the front-runners for the upcoming Spring months.

Both years featured a very warm/above normal month of March, as shown below. The stratospheric warming over the Arctic will begin to favor more high latitude blocking and lower heights across the mid-latitudes as we enter April. The month of April in 1973 and 1983 featured widespread below average temperatures across the CONUS. Given the stratospheric warming ongoing, we are building confidence in these analogs that hint at a cooler April and May. June-August will likely be a completely different story as analogs switch to more heat.

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March 1973 showed the impressive warmth across the coverage area, very similar in comparison to this year’s ending departures expected in March 2016

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March 1983 showed the impressive warmth across the coverage area, very similar in comparison to this year’s ending departures expected in March 2016

By April, both years saw an abrupt change that lasted for much of the Spring months. This not only was true of April, but May as well as shown below:

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April 1973 saw much of the nation cool down to below normal, the exception being New England. Our coverage area remained near to slightly below.

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April 1983 saw below normal temperatures in most of the entire nation after a warm March. Our coverage area was no exception.

Even with the impressive early warmth in early March, we had the same occur in 1973 and 1983 as shown above. The colder shots experienced in late March and April have been timed with precipitation in the 1983 analog year to produce late season snowfalls. This is not true of the 1973 season, however. The table below shows the snowfall experienced in April after a warm March yielded very little. It can happen… but will be handled on a shorter term basis. In other words, this doesn’t indicate an EPAWA prediction, but rather to illustrate the possibility of such snow events occurring, especially if we take on more of a 1983 look in April.

LocationMarch 1973 snowMarch 1983 snowApril 1973 SnowApril 1983 Snow
Scranton, PA0.5"NR0.0"11.5"
Allentown, PA0.2"0.6"0.0"4.6"
Philadelphia, PA0.0"2.9"0.0"1.9"

The month of May in both analog years remained much cooler relative to average. This does NOT mean May snowfall, but it does mean Spring temps that were expected in April will now occur in May, with little sign of a transition to summer. This could mean 60s will remain common in the month of May for highs, whereas normally 70s would become more common typically.

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May 1973 showed below normal temps across the eastern half of the US. Despite the cold look, it is relative to averages, so 60s we common instead of 70s.

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May 1983 had the cooler departures centered farther west than 1973, but still remaining below normal temps across our coverage area by a good 2-3°F

Both years featured an impressive turnaround to summer in the months that followed – June/July/August were hot and relatively dry.

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June 1973 temp departures flipped well above normal

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June 1983 temps averaged near to slt. above normal

Spring 1973 and 1983 precipitation departures, April through June:

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Slightly higher than normal precipitation for the area in the Spring of 1973, with the highest departures from normal occurring in April and May

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A similar result occurred in the Spring of 1983, with slightly above normal precip departures, highest departures from normal occurring in April and May

EPAWA Spring 2016 month by month expectations of temperature and precipitation

LocationApril ’16 temp departureApril ’16 precip departureMay ’16 temp departureMay ’16 precip departureJune ’16 temp departureJune ’16 precip departure
Scranton, PA-1°F to -2­°F+2" above normal-2°F to -4°F0 to +1" above normal+1°F to +2°F0 to +1" above normal
State College, PA-1°F to -2°F+1" to +2" above normal-2°F to -4°F0 to +1" above normal+1°F to +2°F0 to +1" above normal
Harrisburg, PA-1°F to -2°F+1" to +2" above normal-2°F to -4°F0 to +1" above normal0 to +1°F0 to +1" above normal
Allentown, PA-1°F to -2°F+1" to +2" above normal-1°F to -3°F0 to +1" above normal+1°F to +2°F0 to +1" above normal
Philadelphia, PA0 to -1°F+1" to +2" above normal-1°F to -3°F0 to +1" above normal0 to +1°F0 to +1" above normal
Sussex, NJ-1°F to -2°F+2" above normal-2°F to -4°F0 to +1" above normal+1°F to +2°F0 to +1" above normal
Newark, NJ0 to -1°F+2" above normal-1°F to -3°F0 to +1" above normal+1°F to +2°F0 to +1" above normal
Somerville, PA0 to -1°F+2" above normal-1°F to -3°F0 to +1" above normal+1°F to +2°F0 to +1" above normal
Atlantic City, NJ0 to -1°F+1" to +2" above normal-1°F to -3°F0 to +1" above normal+1°F to +2°F0 to +1" above normal
Dover, DE0 to -1°F+1" to +2" above normal-1°F to -3°F0 to +1" above normal0 to +1°F0 to +1" above normal

Spring 2016 Outlook prepared by: EPAWA Meteorologists Bobby Martrich and Mike DeFino

Effective date:  Sunday, March 13th, 2016