NOAA predicts a warmer than usual spring

March 18, 2017, 12:07 p.m.
Yellow buttercups bloom under a bright spring sun
Photo: kavram/Shutterstock

It may be difficult for those in the Northeast to imagine, what with all the snow, but spring is just around the corner, and it's going to be a warm one.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center released its spring 2017 outlook forecast this week, and it predicts warmer-than-average temperatures for much of the United States. The chances for these warmer temperatures range from 33 percent for southwestern California, and a 50 to 80 percent chance for much of the southern Plains, Great Lake and the Eastern seaboard regions. (And if you think you'll have usual temperature in Alaska or Hawaii, think again. Warmer weather is expected there, too.)

NOAA is also predicting a heavy flooding season due to these warmer temperatures. North Dakota, in particular, is at risk.

"If you're in northern North Dakota, or in the Snake River basin in Idaho, prepare for moderate to major flooding this spring," said Tom Graziano, Ph.D., director of NOAA's Office of Water Prediction. "Snowpack is heavy in the West and northern plains, and if our long term warm-up coincides with spring rains, already saturated soils will not be able to absorb the increased water, which would lead to increased runoff and potential flooding."

The warmer than usual temperatures probably aren't a surprise. After all, 2016 was the second warmest year on record for the continental U.S., just part of a larger trend of average annual temperatures surpassing the 20th century average.