Spring will start cool and then heat up in the U.S. Northeast amid scant relief from drought conditions in the Great Plains, according to AccuWeather Inc.’s latest forecast for March, April and May.
The Northeast will probably have below-normal temperatures during the beginning of spring as increased storminess keeps the region overcast and weather patterns in the Atlantic bottle up colder air, said Jack Boston, an expert senior meteorologist for the State College, Pennsylvania-based forecaster.
“We think it is going to be a spring with a split personality,” Boston said by telephone yesterday. “Temperatures will be below normal for the month of March and as we head through the spring, things should get better and better. By late April and into May, it is going to get just gorgeous.”
March is the last month of the heating season in the continental U.S., when most of the natural gas and heating oil is burned to warm homes and businesses. Cooler temperatures in the large cities of the Northeast often translate into higher energy prices.
While storms may be prevalent in the Northeast, the parched soil of the Great Plains probably won’t see any relief, Boston said.
“Drought begets drought,” Boston said. “We’re looking for it to be warmer and dryer than normal from the east slope of the Rocky Mountains to the Corn Belt.”
As of last week, 58 percent of the area in the 48 contiguous U.S. states was afflicted by drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor in Lincoln, Nebraska. About 6.4 percent of the area had the worst of the drought.
Boston said the dry soil will help raise temperatures in the area above normal and that that will just add to the parched conditions.
The drought has shriveled shipping channels in the Mississippi River, boosted corn prices to a record $8.49 in August and left farmers short of livestock feed for animals.
Boston said neutral water temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean may mean an active tornado season this April and May across the U.S. South and up into the Ohio Valley.
The U.S. is struck by about 1,300 tornadoes a year, according to the U.S. Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. About 60 people die annually in the storms.