2017 US spring weather forecast: Winter will linger

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snowy road in woods
(Farm and Dairy/Susan Crowell file photo)

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Like Punxsutawney Phil’s 2017 prognostication, AccuWeather forecasters are predicting winter weather will linger into spring across much of the United States.

From coast to coast, cold air will maintain its grip across the northern tier of the country. Meanwhile, rain, thunderstorms and severe weather will threaten to kick off farther south, leading to a volatile season for many.

Warmup delayed

Spring will start off on a wet note for the Interstate-95 corridor, including Boston, New York City and Philadelphia. Rain and snow will fall through mid-March in most of the Northeast, holding back temperatures.

“As far as a significant warmup goes in the Northeast, I think you have to hold off until late April and May,” said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok.

Though the forecast aligns with Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction, it’s not all bad news for those eager to leave winter behind. The warmup should arrive faster than in the past couple of years, Pastelok said.

Chilly air will also stretch westward into the Midwest.

“It seems like all the cold and all the snow has been really piling up across that area and it’s going to be no different going into the early spring,” he said.

With a significant snowpack remaining, it’s difficult to judge when the cold air will retreat.

“North and west [of Chicago] is going to be delayed because of the amount of snowpack. It will be running behind schedule, no doubt in my mind. I just don’t know how far behind at this point.”

Rain in the South

Showers and thunderstorms will dominate the springtime weather pattern across the southeastern United States. While the rain will be largely beneficial, too much in February and March could make it tough for farmers to get into fields early on. Florida may mark the only exception.

The Plains states may be in for an active severe weather season, thanks in part to winter’s lingering pattern. A northern jet stream which brings cold air to the upper levels of the atmosphere may be slow to retreat, according to Pastelok.

“If it’s slow to move out, which is typical of a weak La Nina season, you’re going to get more explosive systems, more severe weather and that’s a good possibility in the southern Plains this year,” Pastelok said.

The active weather could kick off as early as March, so residents will want to be prepared. In the northern Plains, flooding will be of concern.

Northwest

Wintry conditions will continue across the northwestern U.S. in March, with rain and snow frequenting the region. Some of this precipitation will also reach down into northern California. Following a winter in which Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno and Sacramento, California, each doubled their city’s normal seasonal rainfall total, spring flooding cannot be ruled out.

“Getting farther south from Fresno to Bakersfield, that area still may deal with some minor drought conditions but it’s improved dramatically,” Pastelok said.

Southwest

The Southwest will be much less active than its northern counterpart. High pressure will allow drier- and warmer-than-normal conditions to dominate from southern California to central Texas.

“It’s not going to take too long to get those temperatures to bounce in the Southwest,” Pastelok said.

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