Spring Outlook: Will Six More Weeks of Winter Grip US?A steady stream of warmth may not arrive until mid- to late spring in many regions
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Though Phil has a few more days to prognosticate the next six weeks, the AccuWeather.com long-range forecasting team already predicts that the nation will be split in half: cold and snow will linger in the Northern states, while spring will get an earlier start in the southern half.
Where Will Cold Linger?
Wintry weather is forecast to hold longest across the the Great Lakes, Northeast and mid-Atlantic.
Cold air masses and a few snowstorms will continue to impact the regions as late as March before the winter season comes to an end.
A steady stream of warmth may not arrive for cities from Detroit to Boston and New York City until mid- to late spring.
"For the next six weeks in the Northeast, we're going to be dealing with some pretty good cold coming down out of northern Canada," AccuWeather.com Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.
"I still think there's going to be a few systems of significance before the winter season is over with."
Similarly, snow and shots of cold air will persist across the northern Plains and Upper Midwest.
Where Will Spring Get an Early Start?
The best chances for an early spring will be found in the Southwest. Below-normal snowpack and dry conditions will contribute to a mild end of winter.
California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona, where severe drought conditions persist, will warm early. Area farther east, into Colorado, New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, will begin feeling spring's warmth in March.
A slower transition to spring will sweep the nation's midsection, however, from Washington across the central Plains and down to the interior Southeast.
Florida will mark the exception, where a quick warmup is in store.
Spring Flooding Versus Drought Concerns
There is a slight chance for spring flooding for the Tennessee Valley and lower Ohio Valley. Above-normal snowfall has fallen across the Ohio Valley this winter so far, and potentially more wet systems in the forecast could result in a moderate rise in rivers and streams.
On the other side of the spectrum, little improvement is coming for the dire drought situation in the West.
Pastelok believes March could usher in some rain for California, but the impact will be minimal and the situation will remain serious moving forward, with no significant relief in sight.
As of Jan. 21, more than 60 percent of the West was experiencing moderate to exceptional drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. Earlier this month, the San Francisco National Weather Service office called the situation a phase of drought "largely unseen by many alive today."
Dryness will also prevail in Florida through the springtime, though the situation will be far less severe than in the West. According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, portions of the state are abnormally dry for late January. Since Oct. 1, Orlando, Fla., has received less than 30 percent of the city's normal rainfall for the period.
"I do feel they'll get a little bit of rain going forward in the next few weeks; however, I think they could back in a dry pattern before they actually get into their wet season in June," Pastelok said.
Severe Weather Threats
After a below-normal severe weather season in 2013, this year is forecast to follow suit.
"Last year's severe weather season was a quiet season," Pastelok said. "A lot of it had to do with a lot of cold, stable air in place and I see that same situation setting up for this year."
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While the season is anticipated to be below normal, it will be more eventful than 2013.
A few episodes of severe weather are possible in the Gulf Coast, where some severe tornado outbreaks occurred in 2013, Pastelok warns.
"I think you have to be concerned there again this year," he said.
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