Just In: Spring 2018 Weather Outlook

If you're a fan of a cool, wet spring you may be in luck.

Today the U.S. Climate Prediction Center (CPC), a division of NOAA, issued its temperature and precipitation outlook for March, April, and May of 2018.  Here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, the forecast is for a 40-50% chance that precipitation will be above average during that stretch.  Temperatures during that period are harder to pin down, resulting in a forecast of "equal chances" of above-, near-, and below-normal readings.

Credit: NOAA

Credit: NOAA

Seasonal forecasts are based on a number of factors and, this spring, conditions in and over the Pacific Ocean will play a big role in determining weather patterns in the U.S.

Cooler-than-average water in the equatorial eastern Pacific, known as La Nina, creates a strong polar jet stream over North America that tends to keep the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains states chilly and wet.  This is the pattern we have experienced all winter, however La Nina is expected to weaken in April and May 2018.  So, while it seems likely that March 2018 will bring more of the same cool-and-wet weather to our area, studying La Nina alone leads to some uncertainty in the forecast beyond March.

At the same time long-range climate models, which attempt to predict how the fluid dynamics of the atmosphere will evolve over weeks or months, combined with statistical models created from decades of real weather observations, also suggest above-average precipitation amounts in our area.

The bottom line is: how temperatures play out in Minnesota and Wisconsin during March, April and May is a coin flip, but there's a fair amount of evidence that it will be wetter than average.

It's all pretty complicated; so, if you have a question, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.  Or, you can always Tweet me.

For a closer look at the forecast for all of North America, as well as a discussion written by the forecasters to explain their reasoning, visit the CPC website.