Dave Murray’s long-range Spring 2014 forecast

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(KTVI)-Winter has been doing its thing here in St. Louis bringing lots of interesting weather and lots of variety. We’ve seen everything for solid snow to mild temperatures. And swings are what the spring season is all about. Spring brings a lot more variety and a very fast pace. We also have to focus on severe storms and flooding, and, on the good side, an easing of temperatures. It is time for baseball to start and time to get the gardens up and running. Here is my long-range forecast for Spring 2014.

March 2014

It has been one of the strongest and toughest winters we’ve seen in a long time. We have been in a pattern that, as expected, was a reminder of the brutal winters of the mid and late 1970’s. It is time to look ahead and I have huge questions about the month of March. Signs are pointing to the development of a strong and long lasting El Niño. But that development does not happen overnight. This will be a player for Spring, Summer, Fall and even next Winter. This March, in relation to the hard-core winter, will be a better month, but let’s not get our hopes up. Everything is relative.  I’m expecting a flip in the overall atmospheric set up but it will take some time to play out. As a result, I’m expecting the first 15 days of March to stay rather cold. Yes, there will be a few pleasant days from time to time but let’s think the first half of the month will average out on the cold side. Then the flip will start to dig in resulting in a nice recovery for the second half of the month. But even in this last half, there will be a reminder or two of the intense winter. The weather is better but this is not going to be an easy month by any means. Take it slow with spring cleaning, garden preparations, and long-term outside plans. Spring in March will be a slow process. On the good side, the budding of trees will be slow, the bug populations will be down, and the pollen season will get off to a slow start. But use the mild days to get out and survey winter damage to the vegetation. The cold, wind, and drought will have damaged trees and shrubs.

Since I’m expecting Spring to get going in slow motion, I have to stay focused on the idea of the storm tracks of winter. That means more frequent and very active and keeping the two major tracks of winter in gear. The northwest flow should bring us two to three events and the same for the southwest track. All the events will bring the shots of mixed moisture, rain, sleet and snow. We will hold right in the middle of the action and that always means tough forecasting. Moisture should be a little above average for the month, but I am not concerned about flooding on either the big or small rivers this March. March also can bring some mean thunderstorms, but I am thinking the action will be limited at best the first half of the month. It should start to see a little pick the second half, but I am  not seeing this March as an active time frame for severe weather.

Things to look for in March

  • Red maples begin to bloom
  • Ticks start to appear and in the middle of March
  • Purple martins arrive

March 2014 Summary

  • Winter hangs tough, especially the first half of the month.  Spring is slow to arrive
  • We deal with a very active duel storm track, a mix of rain, sleet and snow
  • Severe weather will be very limited and flooding is not a major concern

April 2014

April is one of the great weather months of the year. Variety is king all month long. There is never a dull moment as winter really starts to lose its grip on the atmosphere and the spring season takes control. The battles can create just about anything, snow, rain, flooding, thunderstorms and tornadoes. In turn, it’s a month that can give us real fits with forecasting, both short and long term.

The month of April is the biggest swing month of the year when it comes to the weather. We are just about ready to stick a fork in the winter season and set to jump into a warmer overall weather pattern. The trees, grass, and flowers explode but it is also a month when severe spring storms become a main-stay. The El Niño will still be in a slow building phase and my thinking is that this April the flip that was struggling this March will kick into full force.  That means temperatures will surge and that warming temperatures will be the main feature for the bulk of the month. Of course, there will be a few cool to even chilly days, especially around the 15th of April, but nothing long lasting. Expect a lot of pleasant Spring days and even the nighttime temperatures will start to feel pretty good. The gardens get going along with a strong pollen season. I’m expecting to temperatures to be above average, even well above average, when we look at the entire month.

Yes, we can still have snow in April, anytime in April, but I am just not seeing much. Sure it is possible early in the month, but I am not going to focus on it this year. So it is all about rain and thunderstorms this year.  I am thinking rainfall will be near to little bit below average, however the severe storm season will pick up speed quickly. I am seeing 4 to 5 severe weather events stretched over the entire month and that would be a bit above average.  All the rounds of storms will bring the works including big, localized rains and flash flooding on the highways, small streams, and creeks. April shows signs of mayhem, much like April of 2011, but the rains and flooding will not be widespread and in turn the drought of last year and the winter will become a growing concern going through the Spring and into Summer.

As for large scale flooding, snow melt to the north should be at a reasonable pace and with a drop off in large scale, widespread storm systems. I do not have big concerns about large river flooding, however the severe thunderstorms and their flash flooding will pop the rivers. We need to watch those rises but large scale, long lasting flooding should not be a major issue.

Things to look for in April

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

April 2014 Summary

  • The atmospheric flip takes solid control. I see a fast surge in temperatures
  • Look for a fast uptick and active severe storm season
  • Flash flooding could be a problem but the lack of large scale weather events should keep widespread, big river flooding in check.

May 2014

May is a month where we work our way out of spring and get into the summer season. Spring is all about rolling through three seasons in three months: winter, spring and summer. As a result, May has a real bad-boy image. It is a rock and roll month known for its heavy rain, river flooding, and severe thunderstorms. But it is also a month that will bring some wonderful weather that you can spend outside enjoying everything in the St. Louis area.

May can have a real split personality. There can be cool spells when you don’t want them and summer heat that you aren’t quite ready for.  This year, May will bring temperatures pretty much where they should be, no extremes highs or low with one exception. This is something that every May I can never let go of and it typically hits the jackpot. Once again, I expect a cold snap around the 11th of the month. This cold snap is known as the Blackberry Winter or sometimes the Dogwood Winter. It is defined as a true cold snap that comes into play with the blooming of the blackberries or the flowering dogwood trees. Let’s keep that on the table again this May. With that said, I think this May will bring some great weather day and night. May temperatures should be pretty close to average for the St. Louis area.

May is a month that has more than its fair share of rock and roll weather. But for that to happen we have to see frequent cold shots from the north, punching into warm and moist air rolling up from the Gulf of Mexico. But if we take that see-saw pattern away, then there should be a drop off in severe weather events and that is what I’m expecting. Of course, severe weather will happen but thinking the intensity and the frequency will be down this May in St. Louis. Let’s go with 2 to 3 events rather than a 5 to 6 event season that is typical. May is one of our wettest months but I just don’t see that this year with rainfall and storms below average. This is good news for large scale flooding but it will bring drought front and center as we head into the summer season. Drought could become a major concern for farmers and gardeners.  But that dry weather is good news for outside plans, graduations, weddings and sporting events.

Things to look for in May

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

May 2014 Summary

  • Expect lots of great spring-time weather. No big cold spells or hot surges.
  • Blackberry winter is on the table. Look for some colder air around the 11th of May.
  • Rainfall and severe storms will be below average, limiting flooding concerns but causing drought concerns

Spring 2014 Summary

After a long and pounding winter season, the worst in years, Spring will struggle with a see-saw temperature pattern in the month of March. But there is big-time hope on the horizon for the months of April and May. Spring is a time of hope and this spring will bring lots of it, thawing us out of hard core winter. Hang in there.  April should bring the core of the severe weather season with an uptick in wicked thunderstorms but that will pull back in the month of May. Small scale and flash flooding concerns all spring, but large scale big river flooding should be pretty easy to take this spring. I am thinking more good than bad for a change.

The focus during the spring and into the summer season is a developing and growing El Niño temperature pattern in the Pacific Ocean waters. But thoughts of summer are still just thoughts and that’s for another long range forecast.

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