The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center says most Americans can expect a warmer spring than usual. The spring forecast, released last Thursday, covers the months of April, May, and June. The warm spring follows what has been a mostly mild winter, though with some late outbursts of winter weather in the Northeast.
Professor John Nielson-Gammon of Texas A&M, the state climatologist of Texas, says the forecast isn’t surprising. “We’ve had a ridiculously warm winter so far, which means the ground is nice and warm,” he notes. “Plus, of course, we’ve got still the atmosphere feeling effects of La Niña, which tends to make the southern United States warmer than normal.”
La Niña, Nielson-Gammon explains, is the situation that results “when the ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific are normally a bit cooler than normal. Now, they were this winter, and it takes the atmosphere a couple of months to adjust.” He says the opposite condition, El Niño, is forecast to develop this summer, meaning a cooler winter next year.
A mild winter often precedes an early Texas wildflower season, and Nielson-Gammon says we’re looking at one now. “We’ve definitely had an early wildflower season so far,” he observes. “I’ve seen things that don’t normally bloom for another month or so already.”
The forecast also calls for “a decent chance of above-normal rainfall for the next few months,” he points out. In the meantime: “The Gulf of Mexico has been running record warm the past few months also. And that’s going to unfortunately help keep the humidity up during the springtime.” Houston’s usual long, hot summer is off to an early start.