ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Before we talk about the spring forecast, we have to address the past. This has been a very cloudy winter. So, a little sunshine is definitely a bonus. Snow hit us early in November just like it did in the previous winter of 2018-2019. But since then, December had above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation. January started mild and then was very wet. Since mid-January, we have had small storms with very little frozen precipitation. So, far less than an inch of snow for this month. So, the big question is this: Do we go deep into winter, or is spring around the corner? The groundhog had his say, now the science gets its turn.
March is a hard month because you’re expecting spring. But, there are usually some delays in the warm-up. There are many signs in the atmosphere that point to a colder than normal March. Cold air is pooling right now in western Canada, and its release could be triggered very soon. Don’t be too eager to put the winter coats away just yet. March precipitation is also a great teaser. There is normally some rain, but many years we will get some March snows. I think we are due this year. With the push of cold air, the eventual retreat of that cold will mean snow…and I think we are due for one bigger snow event in March. Maybe two.
April is all about springtime, normally. Our spring last year was a little cooler than normal and I think that will be the case again this year with a colder than normal March and April. The longer-range computer models show April as being a wet month. Growing up in St. Louis I can remember several snows during April and around Easter. So, let’s keep that frame of mind on the table too. One tricky little system may give us an April surprise.
I know there are a lot of gardeners who look forward to the planting season, and April is generally the start of that. The planting rule is to wait until after Tax Day April 15th, but this year you may have to wait a bit longer. We’ve had a few April frosts, so let’s sit tight. Just as a side note, upon hearing this, I can feel my friend Mandy Murphy is giving me the stink eye. She will have to wait to plant too.
May last year was one of the wettest on record. That month, combined with the wet months prior, lead to the major flooding issues late spring and summer. The rivers have never really retreated to where they should be this time of year. That combined with melting snow up north, and our flood concerns are very real. Major flooding could equal last year, and in spots, the Flood of '93.
May is normally a very strong severe weather month. The exchange from spring to summer will happen this year with some violent storms. We will hit 90 at some point in May, but we will also feel a chill. Its that give and take that makes for violent weather. Tornados are a part of this city's history, and are always a threat during the spring months, and May especially.