Local Climate Outlook: February - April 2014

What are the odds that the climate during this first half of the 2013/14 winter will linger? Based on the latest information from the Climate Prediction Center and available computer guidance, the odds favor a continuation of the colder than median weather. As was detailed in an earlier Top News Story found here the ENSO is forecast to remain neutral through this spring. Using historical records as a guide, we can build analogs that show what happened then, and make the assumption that similar trends will result in the near future.

For the months of February, March and April the same basic pattern is forecast to linger in some form. At the present time the Pacific Ocean Equatorial waters remain near their mid-winter climatological normal. This is technically called an ENSO neutral pattern. ENSO, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation, is forecast to remain in the neutral mode through the late winter into spring. As a result of this neutral condition, there is little forcing from the Pacific which would help cause a change in the pattern.

Therefore the climate / weather over the next 3 months will be dominated by the natural variability and climate patterns typical of late winter and early spring. Based on the historical record and long range climate computer models the overall pattern is expected to remain unchanged through February on into March and April.

This suggests frequent cold snaps with brief, but dramatic warm-ups will continue for the foreseeable future. Overall the climate patterns suggests precipitation will be on the upper side of median the next few months. Due to the expected colder than median temperatures, this would result in a above median snowfall the next 30 to 90 days.

The following is not an outlook per se, but represents the average conditions of temperature and precipitation in years that followed fall and early winter seasons similar to 2013. Those years include 1952, 1965, 1986, 1991 and 2009.

 "Images provided by the NOAA/ESRL Physical Sciences Division, Boulder Colorado from their Web site at http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/psd/"

The montage above represents the mean departure from normal temperature during the February - April time period (upper left), mean departure from normal precipitation (upper middle) and trend adjusted mean departure from normal precipitation (upper right). The 500 mb mean departure from normal height anomaly (lower left) and wind speed (lower right) suggest a climate pattern for this spring that is similar to the fall and early winter of 2013/14. The basic idea of a colder than normal late winter / spring is supported in the CPC Outlooks.

The trend adjusted precipitation (upper right) was added to illustrate one technique used in climate prediction. Since the start of the current "wet cycle" the spring years have shown a general increase in storminess; this is reflected in the 200% increase shown in the graphic. It is again important to reiterate this is not an outlook, but may be used a guide to potential climate trends the next 3 months.

For additional information email Mark Ewens, Climate Services Focal Point, or call the Grand Forks NWS at 701.795.5198

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