Early spring or 6 more weeks of winter? AccuWeather experts break down US spring forecast for 2024 – AccuWeather.com/ar/

Early spring or 6 more weeks of winter?  AccuWeather experts break down US spring forecast for 2024 – AccuWeather.com/ar/

“As a lion as a lamb,” is a phrase synonymous with March, and will be accurate for at least part of the United States this year as meteorological spring begins.

“It could come in like a lion in the east,” said Paul Pastelok, a veteran meteorologist and long-range forecaster at AccuWeather. “We may have a very windy pattern from late February to early March.” However, he warned that this would not be the case across the country.

Pastelok and Accuweather's team of long-range forecasters also had the scoop on Punxsutawney Phil, who, on February 2, did not see his shadow and they predicted an early spring. Spring weather could be delayed in arriving in more than a dozen states across the southern United States, while an early end to winter is possible in northern tier regions.

Meteorological spring begins on Friday, March 1, while astronomical spring begins at the equinox, which occurs at 11:06 pm EST on March 19.

When can people safely store their snow shovels for the season? Will the extreme weather be overly active in Tornado Alley? How long will El Niño last? Learn the answers to these questions and more with a region-by-region breakdown of AccuWeather's spring 2024 forecast:

Spring snowfall precedes rising temperatures

The snow drought has finally ended in major cities along the Interstate 95 corridor after more than 700 straight days without an inch of snow accumulating — and there will be greater chances for snow as spring begins.

The window of opportunity for snowstorms in the east will remain open through the first half of March, providing a chance for snowfall and providing a nice boost to ski resorts across the region. After that, the weather pattern will reverse and the threat of snow will diminish significantly across much of the East Coast.

“We may actually see warmer temperatures in the second half of March across the eastern United States,” Pastelok said. He added that there may be some additional chances for snow across the Northeast into April, but the odds of meaningful snow accumulation in places like New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will be low after mid-March.

A spring storm covers tulips in fresh snow on April 30, 2019. (Photo by RJ Sangusti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

The stormy pattern won't let up despite rising temperatures, and an abundance of April precipitation could disrupt parts of the eastern U.S., especially across the Southeast.

Drought conditions have improved across the region throughout the winter months, and systems swinging across the Southeast will continue to wipe out precipitation deficits in the coming months. However, the rain may end up being a very good thing.

Spring rainstorms will have the potential to run flooding from the Gulf Coast across the mid-Atlantic, including around Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina; Orlando and Tallahassee, Florida; atlanta; And Richmond, Virginia.

Frequent precipitation prospects in the Southeast could also limit temperatures, resulting in a slower transition from winter to spring conditions.

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As the calendar moves down to May, residents across the Southeast should also begin preparing for Atlantic hurricane season, as 2024 could include a tropical system before the season officially begins on June 1.

“It may not take long for a tropical storm to form in May, especially around the Florida peninsula and perhaps southeast Texas where the waters (in the Gulf of Mexico) are warmer,” Pastelok explained. However, any system that attempts to develop will have to battle disruptive winds expected over the Gulf of Mexico throughout May, which could serve to limit the strength of the system.

Tornado Alley will flare up again in April and May

The arrival of spring signals the start of the severe weather season across the nation's core, and meteorologists say in the near future the worst thunderstorms and tornadoes could be focused on a different area than in recent years when severe weather engulfed the Tennessee Valley and Mississippi Valley.

Severe weather may begin as early as across the Gulf Coast states in March, and will shift and expand across the Plains during April and into May, including the traditional tornado alley. Damaging winds and hail will be the most prevalent, while the number of tornadoes throughout the season may end up slightly below the historical average, especially in March and April.

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“May is when hurricanes really start to appear,” Pastelok said.

Parts of the mid-Atlantic and New England can also expect an uptick in severe weather in May as well.

Farther north across the Midwest and northern Plains, spring warmth will likely arrive earlier than the historical average, but dry spells and pockets of drought could limit the potential for severe weather until later in the season.

The lack of snow throughout the winter was one factor in the drought, but Pastelok said the drought is not expected to trend in the spring. There's also some good news for farmers and gardeners across the region.

“As long as the growing season lasts, this will be good for agriculture,” Pastelok said. Dry periods in the spring will allow farmers to spend more time working in the fields early in the season and perhaps allow them to plant more compared to a wetter spring.

The El Niño phenomenon may “collapse” with the onset of spring in the West

El Niño drove the weather pattern across the West Coast all winter, and although storms were not as heavy as they were during the winter of 2022-2023, rounds of rain drenched areas from Seattle to Los Angeles while yards of snow accumulated. in the mountains. But change is on the horizon.

The El Niño phenomenon has reached its peak. “We're going the other way now,” Pastelok said. He added that “the El Niño phenomenon may collapse” as water temperatures near the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean decline and move toward long-term averages. An El Niño is declared when water temperatures in this region of the Pacific Ocean are at least 0.9°F (0.5°C) higher than the historical average for more than three consecutive months.

Despite this shift, the stormy pattern is likely to continue into the first part of spring before the rainy season ends.

A woman inspects flood-damaged cars during a rainstorm Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Dennis Borowy)

The storm track will gradually dip northward throughout the spring, allowing for extended periods of dry conditions across California. That turnaround can't come fast enough for some locations, including San Diego, where flooding occurred after the fourth rainy day on record.

Stormy weather is likely to last longer in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

“The Northwest may actually get a little wet again as we head into May,” Pastelok added.

Spring as a whole is expected to be warmer than the historical average across the majority of the West except in the Four Corners, where the winter cold could hold its own longer than other regions.

The widespread warmth will cause mountain snowmelt across the Rockies, Cascades and Sierra Nevada, which will move into rivers and reservoirs, but is not expected to cause the same flooding problems that occurred last spring. In California, an excessive amount of snowmelt last spring led to the appearance of a “ghost lake” for the first time since 1997.

“We don't have the snowpack we saw last season in the Rockies,” Pastelok said. “So I don't expect severe flooding.”

Water flows through the Oroville spillway into Lake Oroville on Saturday, March 25, 2023, in Butte County, California. The California Department of Water Resources was releasing water to make room in the reservoir for expected snowpack to melt. (AP Photo/Noah Berger)

Spring and summer snowmelt will continue to fill water reservoirs throughout the region, including some of the most important reservoirs in the West.

In January, the water level in Lake Mead exceeded 1,070 feet for the first time since 2021. The lake's water level will gradually rise over the summer as snow that fell over the Rocky Mountains melts and feeds the rivers. The melting snow will help provide water to farms and cities during drier times of the year.

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