Dave Murray’s Spring 2015 Long-Range Forecast

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It’s been a very strange winter around St. Louis. It was a rapid start in November with deep cold and snow but then we got into a two steps back, one step forward pattern with the classic st. Louis temperature swings. It has been much easier to take then the big time winter of last year. But because of these swings there are big-time questions about the upcoming month of March.

March 2015

The weak el Niño pattern is fading quickly and the bubble of warmer water in the Gulf of Alaska remains in place. I do think March will be cold, especially the first 15 days of the month, but not as cold as the intense cold of March 2014. Let’s think it is more of a winter's month than a ‘’trying to get into the spring season’. So let’s take is slow with 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 will be very slow making a comeback. Think of any mild days as an early spring bonus. They will be limited.

Since March temperatures will be in slow motion, more like winter, I think the major storm tracks will be pulled away from the middle of the nation. That keeps rain and snow below average. There are signs that it could be well below average. That is not to say we will be dry all month long, which never happens in the month of March. I am thinking there will be two maybe 3 shots at rain and one shot at some snow. But the core action appears to be holding either to our north or south. In March, we start to think about severe weather. Thinking 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. I have no concerns about flash flooding or major river flooding.

Things to look for the month of March

  • The red maples begin to bloom
  • Ticks start to appear
  • The purple martins arrive

Major points of March 2015

  • With the fading el Niño, the pattern is rather quiet with temperatures tending to be on the cold side.
  • Expecting limited rain and limited snow, an oddity for March in St. Louis.
  • Moisture will be below average and in turn thunderstorms and severe weather will be tough to find...no flooding concerns

April 2015

April will be a big swing month when it comes to St. Louis weather, especially this April as we leave what is left of winter quickly in the dust. El Niño will be a distant memory and we will jump into a solid spring-time weather pattern. The big thing this month will be above average temperatures. 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 all month long. There will be a few short cool stretches (this is still April) with the odds favoring the first 6 days of the month. 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 work will jump into high gear and we will be looking at some great baseball weather and great weather for the spring sports of colleges and high schools.

Now, we can still have snow in April but the odds this April will be very small. The best shot will be with the thinking of some cool temperatures the first 6 days, but let’s not really think about it. I am thinking the southern storm track will become rather active. When you add in a rapid warm up and mild to warm temperatures holding for the bulk of the month, the severe weather season will quickly come alive. And in turn, I’m thinking we will see 3 to 4 strong to severe thunderstorm events. Active yes, but not in the large scope of things. Those numbers are a little below average for a typical month of April. But stay alert. Each thunderstorm event will bring the works, including big, localized rains, flash flooding on the roads, and swelling of small streams and creeks. But with the overall lack of snow over the middle of the nation this winter season, I don't see any large scale flood concerns on the big rivers in and around St. Louis. So when we add up all the rain and storm situations, I think the amount of rain we see for the month will run a little below average.

Things to look for in April

  • Tent caterpillars start to appear
  • Hummingbirds start to return
  • Robins and other birds start to build their nests

Major points for April 2015

  • This month will bring a very fast swing from winter to spring, resulting in above to well above average temperatures.
  • 3 to 4 strong to severe thunderstorm events…some flash flooding
  • Large scale flooding on the big rivers will be minor...nothing widespread

May 2015

The month of may will bring a huge temperature contrast over the nation, with the coolest weather over the western and Rocky Mountain states and the warmest over the Midwest and the eastern states. Remember this idea when we get to moisture for the month. I think cool spells in May will be tough to come by and much of the month will be mild to even warm. There may even be some some hints of summer during the last 8 days of the month. Records will be tough, but thinking we could be close. With that said, there is a feature that happens almost every May and I think it will happen again this May. It’s a cold snap that is known as "blackberry winter" or sometimes "dogwood winter". It’s a cold snap that happens around the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th of the month. Let’s keep that idea on the table. Can't turn your back on weather history.  Why the names blackberry or dogwood? The cold snap typically goes hand in hand with blooming of these two forms of vegetation. Overall, it looks like some great temperatures this May.

Moving on to rain and storms and back to the idea of the massive temperature contrast over the nation. Cool to cold for the West and Rockies. Mild to warm Midwest and east. That contrast means a storm chaser alert and May will really live up to its rock ‘n roll reputation. May 2014 was rather quiet with severe weather. That won’t be the case this May. I’m expecting 7 to 8 strong to severe weather events. That would be above average, even for St. Louis. Some of these pushes will be quite severe with impressive rain, hail, lightning, and isolated tornadoes. This is a month not to let our weather guard down. May is typically one of the wettest months of the year (June is the wettest) and this May rainfall amounts will be near average. That’s still a lot of water. So let’s stay up to date in the short term for outside plans, graduations, and sporting events. It is good news for the vegetation going into the three months of summer. Drought in May will not be a concern. I do have concerns for flash flooding during the storms. I don't think the major rivers will cause concerns with widespread major flooding.

Things to look for in the month of May

  • Watch for lightning bugs—or fire flies on warm evenings
  • The chigger season begins and runs through September
  • Coyote pups begin emerging from their dens

Major points for May 2015

  • Temperatures will be mild to warm for much of the month...however I have to keep the idea of the blackberry winter on the table
  • An active month with thunderstorms...above average storms and plenty of rain
  • Still not thinking we are in for major widespread flooding.

Spring 2015 Summary

The focus during the spring season will be a very slow start on tap for the month of March, more winter than spring, then strap yourself in for a solid jump to spring with a rapid rise in temperature for April and May. So we just have to wait a little for spring to get its warm on. Severe storm action will start to show its face in April but let’s think the key month for strong to severe weather will be the month of May. That makes flash flooding a concern but not a lot of concern for widespread major river flooding.

The controlling global weather feature will be the demise of the weak el Niño pattern of the winter. It will be gone for this spring and stay away for the three months of summer. But summer is just a distant thought right now and we’ll save it for another long range weather forecast.

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