March 1st was the start of meteorological spring! The equinox isn’t until March 20th, but it’s easier for meteorologists to refer to seasons in terms of cooler/warmer months. That means meteorological winter has ended and we can officially say that it was the warmest on record.
Huntsville’s average temperature, including both highs and lows, from December 1st-February 28th came in at 50.5 degrees. In this year’s case, the heat was likely reinforced by the drought the Tennessee Valley has been struggling with all season. We also spent most of the winter season in a weak La Nina, which often correlates to above average temperatures in the South.
The start of meteorological spring was a different story though. Cooler air quickly settled in and we even experienced a hard freeze Saturday morning. Is that an indicator of the season ahead though? Probably not. Spring is a transitional season, so we’ll still see a few cool downs. It doesn’t look like cool temperatures will be the norm though. The Climate Prediction Center has outlined the entire southeast with a 40% chance of seeing above average temperatures through May.
If you’re wondering about how El Nino/La Nina could affect us, it probably won’t. The Pacific sea surface temperatures are no longer low enough below average to be considered a La Nina pattern. We’re currently in a neutral pattern, meaning neither La Nina or El Nino conditions are present. Most models depict a neutral pattern sticking through at least Spring. If you hear that the onset of El Nino is possible soon, take it with a grain of salt. While there are a few models that hint at El Nino conditions starting up again, those models also have high uncertainty, so neutral conditions look more likely.