Spring Outlook Calls For Mild Temperatures in Much of the East

Chris Dolce
Published: February 17, 2017

Mild temperatures are forecast to continue east of the Rockies this spring, continuing a weather pattern that has held firm throughout the winter so far, according to the latest outlook from The Weather Company, an IBM Business.

The outlook calls for warmer-than-average temperatures across the southern tier of the nation as spring begins. Below-average temperatures will persist in the Northwest where cold and snowy conditions have dominated during winter.

That type of weather pattern is consistent with the weak La Niña conditions this winter. NOAA said La Niña ended earlier this month, but its impact on the atmosphere may linger into March.

(MORE: La Niña is Gone, But El Niño Could Return)

March 2017 temperature outlook.

"Anomalously warm sea-surface temperatures near Indonesia are still persisting, and since they drive the anomalous convection that has produced the La-Niña-like pattern this winter, we don’t see any clear reason why the atmospheric response to La Niña won’t hang around for a while," said Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist with The Weather Company.

Beyond March, there is a signal in the latest forecast guidance that above-average temperatures will be a common east of the Rockies through mid and late spring, as well.

Warmer-than-average conditions are forecast to encompass a swath of the nation's midsection, including parts of the South, Midwest and Great Lakes, in April. The East Coast will see temperatures near or slightly above average, while the West is expected to be near or slightly below average.

April 2017 temperature outlook.

In May, that warmth is expected to stay parked across the nation's midsection and the Deep South, but also spread through the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states. Any chance for cooler-than-average temperatures is expected to be limited to parts of the northwest United States.

May 2017 temperature outlook.

Crawford says that early indications are that an overall warmer-than-average summer is in store for the United States, particularly early on, and especially in the West and South. Any cooler weather during summer is expected to be late in the season and be confined to portions of the northern United States. That's when El Niño could emerge.

Keep in mind this spring outlook is an overall trend for the three-month period March-May. An individual cold front or an upper ridge of high pressure could lead to a brief period of colder or warmer weather, respectively.

Winter Temperatures, So Far

There has a been a persistent weather pattern in place across the U.S. so far this winter, as discussed earlier.

Shown below are the temperature rankings for December 2016 through Feb. 12, 2017. Orange and red shaded locations are seeing a top 10 warmest winter to date while locations in blue or purple are experiencing a top 10 coldest winter so far.

(RECAP: The Winter Storms of 2016-17)

Temperature rankings for December 2016 through Feb. 12, 2017. That period of times ranks among the top 10 warmest on record for locations in orange and red. Areas in blue or purple rank among the top 10 coldest on record for that time. (Southeast Regional Climate Center/ACIS)

The pattern that stands out is the cold Northwest and the warm South and East. That type of weather pattern is fairly consistent with the atmospheric response to the weak La Niña conditions in place during that time.

(MORE: The Warmest, Coldest and Wettest of January 2017)

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The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.