Tim’s Washington DC Area Spring 2017 Forecast

Stunning view of the Yoshino Cherry Blossoms at sunrise on the Tidal Basin, photo by Chris Fukuda

After California’s drought busting wet & snowy Winter, record warmth across the eastern two-thirds of the nation along with a lingering drought across much of the east coast what does history suggest about the upcoming Spring of 2017 across the National Capital Region?

I researched a handful of historical analog years that match up well to the national temperature and precipitation anomalies we have seen since December of 2016.  

The equatorial Pacific is forecast by all of the models to continue warming suggesting a moderate strength El Nino will be a key player for our upcoming Spring, Hurricane Season and Winter of 2017-18 (hint: Snow-lovers rejoice for weak to moderate El Nino Winters). 

Caveat:  

  • The maps were made using NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory website (highly recommend you weather nerds check out their website). For all the criticism that NOAA has dealt with after the last storm system I would like to remind folks that it was an extremely difficult forecast (the gradient between sleet and all snow) and the National Weather Service’s mission is to protect lives and property by warning the public of impending storms.  When a nor’easter is about to cripple parts of the heavily populated Northeast Megalopolis (between DC and Boston), being prepared is better than being trapped, injured or killed.  These folks are not perfect (no forecast is) and they do an amazing job and provide amazing products and services to the public.
  • Opinions are mine (I chose the analog years) and I am a firm believer that seasonal forecasts are tricky and should not be viewed as 100% reliable (Hint: the warm phase of the PDO didn’t hold as expected this Winter and the positive EPO provided California its drought relief while killing us snow-lovers here in the Washington Area)

Temperatures:

  • I expect that much of the eastern and southern tier of the United States will experience warmer than average temperatures April through June.  This does not mean that there won’t be lingering snow storms in late-March or April across the Midwest or Northeast, remember this map is showing “departure” from average based on a handful of years that I chose over three months. 

Precipitation:

  • Unfortunately I can’t predict that we are in for significant drought relief April through June (we currently need about 10″ of rain to get us out of this drought).  The only way we are going to see significant drought relief between now and early/mid April is if we get a powerful late season Nor’easter that drops several inches of rain or heavy wet snow across our region. 
  • If the analogs that I chose were “chosen wisely”, the drought conditions across the deep south and parts of the Mid-Atlantic may be slow to ease.
  • Another concern of mine is that El Nino summers play a key role in weakening the easterlies along the ITCZ as upper-level wind shear increases. The lack of land falling tropical systems along the United States coastline has been one factor contributing to the ongoing drought conditions that we have been experiencing.

For those of you who like time-lapse videos of clouds, here is my favorite video of all time for the Spring and Summer Severe Thunderstorm Season (the footage was filmed by storm chasers and the music that was synced up with the footage is amazing).

So there you have it, if the analog package I chose is correct, on average, the National Capital Area may experience warmer than average temperatures with equal chances for precipitation to be near or below average during the 90 day April through June time period.

5 Replies to “Tim’s Washington DC Area Spring 2017 Forecast”

  1. I appreciate all of your research and expertise,

    I don’t think this last storm was a low impact event locally, especially given the time of year, for example compared to the St. Patrick’s Day (7-11″) snow of 2014, where by the following afternoon most things were pretty much back to normal.

    The latest storm may have been a flop in terms of snowfall totals, but the effect of 2-3″ of snow, followed by nearly and inch of sleet and freezing rain, with it all being frozen solid into an icy mass was quite profound. For example, shaded parts of our parking lot were still frozen solid and dangerously slippery as late as Friday. And the difficulty of removing all that solid ice from cars in the freezing wind and cold was a definite hardship for people that had somewhere to go..

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  2. I’m looking for the part that says “winter’s not over” but I’m not finding it. 😉 Good post, Tim.

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    1. March 27th looks interesting somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic

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  3. By showing us the analogs, do you really think Winter is officially over and you are throwing the towel in?

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    1. An early spring Nor’easter arrives when you least expect it Brendan 🙂

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