ST. LOUIS – Spoiled with an unseasonably warm start to the new year, it appears St. Louis could be shaping up for a rough ride this spring.
Long-term forecasts for upcoming weeks and months hint to several waves of cold air, prolonged precipitation and possibly a spike in severe storms across the Midwest. For St. Louis, it could mean late frost and more severe weather trends than most of the country from March to May.
Models from the National Weather Service, in the form of monthly and seasonal outlooks, suggest the St. Louis region could see rain and snow chances anywhere from 30-50% more than the national average through April.
The NWS did not offer any severe weather outlooks past February, though notes the month is tracking for a mild progression aside from some possible heavy rain chances next week.
Recently, St. Louis seems to be profiting from a La Nina weather pattern, when warm moist air moves northbound from an unusually toasty Gulf of Mexico. NWS excepts La Nina conditions to neutralize between February and April.
At least one Illinois professor who studies severe weather patterns says a shift from La Nina, paired with climate change, could mean a larger risk for tornadoes than usual in 2023, particularly in the Midwest.
“This is very much a La Nina type of system that you’d expect but is being augmented by abnormally warm Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperatures,” said Northern Illinois University meteorology professor Victor Gensini via the Associated Press. He adds that early signals “indicate the overall pattern remains favorable for an above average tornadic year.”
Projections could change, but it seems inevitable that spring months will look different than January and February. The National Weather Service says all but five days produced above-average temperatures in St. Louis last month, with snow and precipitation totals both below average. February has yet to produce any measurable precipitation in St. Louis, and two days have already peaked into the 60s.
For what it’s worth, the National Weather Service says around 3.5-5 inches of precipitation are average for St. Louis in March, April and May. St. Louisans should expect a spring weather mixer steered by rain, though can’t rule out anything beyond that.
Stay tuned in the upcoming weeks for an extended spring weather special from the trusted meteorologists of FOX 2.