With the mild weather making a widespread visit to the Midwest and Northeast during the second week of March, millions of people are wondering: Is warmth here to stay?
In short, people should not get used to the mild conditions over much of the northeastern quarter of the nation.
Another surge of cold air is forecast to sweep from central Canada to the Midwest and Northeast prior to the middle of next week. Additional episodes of unseasonably cold conditions will occur into April.
The number of colder-than-average days may far outweigh warmer-than-average days from the central Great Lakes to New England. This takes into consideration that normal average temperatures trend upward by 1 degree Fahrenheit every two to three days in the spring. The expected weather pattern will translate into a number of days with highs in the 30s and 40s.
According to AccuWeather.com Chief Long Range Expert Paul Pastelok, "We expect a slow start to spring from the Great Lakes to the upper mid-Atlantic and New England into the first part of April."
The combination of frequent unsettled conditions, many cloudy days, lingering snowcover, extensive Great Lakes ice and soggy ground will work against lasting warmth building northeastward into this area through the first part of spring.
The frequent bouts of chilly air, storm systems and damp ground could pose some problems for agricultural interests in terms of working the soil. Outdoor sports ranging from baseball to soccer and golf could face some difficulties due to the chilly, soggy and unsettled conditions.
"With the deep snowcover and saturated ground we expect some flooding in New England and New York state to Pennsylvania," Pastelok said.
A significant amount of snow could be on the ground through early April in northern areas.
"The combination of melting snow and more precipitation to lead to river flooding through April with ice jams possibly being a major issue into early April," Pastelok said.
Storms with marginal temperatures will not only deliver rounds of cold rain well into April, but also a few episodes of a wintry mix or wet snow.
Flooding problems that began during March in part of the Ohio and Tennessee valley will continue over the next several weeks, due to the saturated ground from additional precipitation.
Warmth that burst onto the scene during the second week of March over the central and northern Plains will be a more frequent visitor during April. Multiple days with highs in the 60s and 70s are likely with even 80-degree temperatures possible in some locations of the Central states.
Low snowcover over the Upper Midwest and drier-than-average conditions forecast should translate to few flooding problems for the region moving forward during the spring.
Pastelok expects the warmth from the Plains to progress eastward to a point during May, but how far east the real warm conditions get is uncertain this far out.
"During May and June, very warm conditions that make it to the Midwest could bust through for a few weeks in the Northeast, or be held back," Pastelok said.
In terms of severe weather, Pastelok expects another slow start similar to last year, but with a strong finish this spring. The number of storms and tornadoes are likely to coincide with the expansion of warmth.