Dave Murray’s 2016 Spring Long-Range Forecast

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-March starts the spring season in the St. Louis area, but winter is far from over. The three months of winter are ending, but spring struggles here in St. Louis. Early this season, we’ll see some wild swings…swings that give us some hope that spring is near…but those swings will also remind us that winter is not ready to let go. It is an amazing weather ride so let’s get this started with a look at March in St. Louis.


March 2016

It’s been a very strange winter around St. Louis. We started with a cold November then a very mild temperatures and record wet for December.  Then we had a see-saw pattern for the last two months of winter. Those are swings that are always a concern, especially when dealing with a slow fade of the very strong El Niño pattern and a bubble of warmer water in the Gulf of Alaska. I do think March will be cold. We’ll still be dealing with our famous temperature swings but thinking the month will average out on the cold side. That means a very slow start to the spring season. We’ll have to give it time before we start the spring cleaning, garden preparations, and spending a lot of time outside. Any warm up in March will be a slow motion process. So let’s think temperatures will be below average for the month. The good side of that is that the budding of the trees will be slow, keeping the allergy index down and bugs away for a time.  Think of any mild days as an early spring bonus. They will happen, but I think in a limited fashion

On the moisture, March can bring some impressive snows to the St. Louis area. However, I don't like the overall set up when it comes to the storm track. That pattern wants to hold the core action well north or well south of our area. The northern and southern jets will stay active, so we will have to keep our guard up. Any moisture we see will be in the form of variety, rain, ice and snow. However, with the storm tracks locking up away from us I think rain and snow will be below average. That is not to say we will be dry all month long...that never happens in the month of march... Thinking there will be two maybe 3 shots at rain and snow...but the core action appears to be holding either to our north or south. In march we start to think about severe weather...but that may be all we are doing this march... It appears the severe thunderstorm season and tornado season will stay in hibernation this march in st. Louis...in turn...though the rivers are high...flash flooding and major river flooding should stay relaxed...but a concern later in the spring season.

Things to look for the month of March

  • The red maples begin to bloom
  • Ticks start to appear and in the middle of March
  • The purple martins arrive

March 2016 Highlights

  • A slow start to the spring season in the month of March...a struggle
  • Temperatures will bounce around but thinking to month will end up with below average temperatures
  • Rain and snow below average...no real concerns about severe weather, flash flooding, or major river flooding

April 2016

In my book, April is the greatest month for weather watching. It is all about variety and variety is king in the month of April as winter really lets go and spring starts to flex its weather muscles. This variety can create just about anything, snow, rain, wicked thunderstorms, flooding and always the risk of tornadoes. It is a month that creates a wild ride when it comes to forecasting, both short and long term. But a tough forecast is always fun.

April brings solid spring weather this year over the St. Louis area. The El Niño pattern will be fading rather quickly at this point and in turn we leave whatever is left of winter quickly in the dust. The big thing this month will be above average temperatures and I’m thinking temperatures could end up well above average. The trees, grass, and flowers will just explode and in turn folks with allergies, myself included, will see the tree pollens take control of our lives. There will be a few, short cool stretches but I am not seeing any cold air getting locked in for extended periods of time. Overall, we can expect a lot of pleasant spring weather and by the end of the month even nighttime temperatures will feel pretty good. The gardens and all the outside fun will jump into high gear and we will be looking at some great baseball weather along with the spring sports of colleges and high schools.

Can it snow in April? Certainly, but the chances of snow this April will be very, very small. If something were to pop, it would melt away very quickly but let’s not really think about it. With the fading El Niño, we still have to keep a very close eye on the southern storm track. I think it will mean business this April. When you factor in a rapid warm up, I think the severe weather season will quickly come alive.  And in turn, I think we will see 3 to 5 strong to severe thunderstorm events. Those numbers are pretty close to where we should be in the month of April. Let’s stay alert. Each thunderstorm event will bring the works, including big, localized rains and flash flooding on the roads, and small streams, and creeks. With melting snow from the north and the rivers still running high from the December floods, let’s look for concerns with flooding on all the major rivers over the region. When we add it all up, the month will be wet but let’s think a typical April wet. That is enough to cause some concerns

Things to look for in April

  • The tent caterpillars start to appear
  • Hummingbirds start to return...they are called hummingbirds because they can't remember the words
  • Robins and other birds start to build their nests

April  2016 Highlights:

  • A fast jump in temperatures as we rocket right into spring-time...temps running above average for the month
  • A fast up-tick in severe weather with multiple outbreaks... 3 to 5 events...so let’s stay alert
  • Flash flooding and major river flooding concerns all month long

May 2016

Time for May, the wild seasonal ride continues as spring wraps up and we quickly start to see some signs of the summer season. That is what is so neat about spring in St. Louis. It brings winter, spring, and summer in only three months. May is a rock and roll month known for its big-time thunderstorms along with heavy rain, flooding, and river flooding. But it’s also a month of fantastic weather that gets everyone outside.

May is looking like another solid spring-time month. Overall, we’ll see great temperatures from start to finish and for both daytime highs and nighttime lows. I think cool spells in May will be tough to come by and much of the month will be mild. With that said, there is a feature that happens almost every May that I love to include it in almost every spring forecast. And I think it will happen again this May. It is a cold snap that is known as "Blackberry Winter" or sometimes "Dogwood Winter." It tends to happen around the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th of May. Let’s keep that idea on the table.  Why the names blackberry or dogwood? The cold snap typically goes hand in hand with blooming of these two forms of vegetation. Overall, looking like some great temperatures this may and by the end of the month temperatures will be near to slightly above average.

On to rain and storms, and it looks like a month for storm chasing. The month of May will really live up to its rock and roll reputation.  I'm expecting 5 to 6 strong to severe weather events and that would be about average for a typical May. However, it will be rather active and a month to stay up to date on the short term forecast with impressive rain, hail, lightning, and isolated tornadoes. May is typically one of the wettest months of the year.  June is the wettest. Rainfall amounts for May 2016 will be near to slightly below average. But that is still wet, so let’s stay up to date in the short term for outside plans, graduations, and sporting events. However, it is good news for the vegetation going into the three months of summer. Drought in May will not be a concern but I do have concerns for flash flooding in the storms. With the rivers still running very high, the stage is set for some widespread flooding on the major rivers

Things to look for in the month of May

  • Watch for lightning bugs or fireflies on warm evening
  • Chigger season begins and runs through September
  • Coyote pups begin emerging from their dens

May 2016 Highlights

  • A rather mild to warm month but lets keep the "Blackberry Winter" concept on the table
  • Look for an active month when it comes to thunderstorms... 5 to 6 strong to severe weather events with the works
  • A wet month... with concerns about flash flooding and major river flooding

Spring 2016 Summary
The controlling global weather feature will be the fading of the rather strong El Niño pattern, I think the fade will be rather quick with a rapid "flip" to a La Nina pattern going into the summer. That sets the stage for a very different fall and winter next season,  but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. That is for another long range forecast​.