The National Weather Service released its predictions Thursday for the first spring in a few years without the presence of La Niña.
There’s an 85% to 95% chance La Niña ends this spring, but that doesn’t mean El Niño takes over immediately. Instead, we’re most likely to shift into an “ENSO neutral” pattern, meaning neither La Niña nor El Niño is present.
That’s a challenge of sorts for meteorologists as they create long-range forecasts. The absence of La Niña and El Niño can make spring more unpredictable.
“The crystal ball is even blurrier than usual,” said Michelle L’Heureux, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist with the Climate Prediction Center. “ENSO neutral effectively means that conditions across Tropical Pacific are closer to average, so there isn’t a big disruption in the atmospheric circulation that is offered by El Niño La Niña.”
The absence of those disruptions leaves room for other climatological forces to prevail, L’Heureux explained, such as global warming and natural seasonal variability.
Taking all those factors into consideration, the Climate Prediction Center released its spring outlook Thursday (maps below), and it’s looking as though it will be a hot one for most states, although California is largely spared.
The southern half of the country is painted in shades of red, meaning a high probability of hotter-than-average temperatures between March and May. A band of orange stretches from the Midwest through the Northeast, meaning those states are also leaning toward a warm spring.
Aside from a portion of Southern California’s eastern deserts, the Golden State has an equal chance of seeing above-normal and below-normal temperatures this spring, according to the NWS.
The precipitation outlook could be bad news for the Southwest, which has been plagued with drought for the past several years. The Four Corners states, as well as Florida, are the most likely areas to see a drier-than-normal spring.
The Great Lakes region, on the other hand, is most likely to see above-average precipitation through May.
El Niño isn’t quite ready to make its presence known, but it’s probably on the way. The Climate Prediction Center gives El Niño about a 60% chance of taking over this fall.