Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Do We Need More Spring Rain?

The quick answer is a surprising YES!

The frequent rains of February proved to be a little misleading. Thoughts of another record setting spring like last April through June have proved to be premature.  The hottest March on record with several days of 80+ rapidly dried the ground out across northern Ohio. Soil conditions were still too wet for farmers to turn over the fields. April has proved that weather patterns can change drastically.  Only 0.33" of rain at Hopkins Airport with average temperatures running a degree above normal. (Expect the cool weekend to lower the monthly average). As of April 18th, as I drive into rural Lorain and Medina counties, many farmers' fields seem ready to go.

Look at last year's April rainfall compared to average.  Most areas from upstate New York through Ohio to northern Mississippi were more than 10" above normal. The trend continued through June.

Now this April. Quite the opposite but not to extreme. Rainfall is slightly below normal going back 60 days.

Soil moisture over the last 3 weeks has dropped significantly in the east.
Our pattern that shows a somewhat persistent zonal to WNW flow aloft still concerns me. The last two weeks of April should feature near normal temperatures with a few shots of cooler air. If the cooler air is accompanied with clear skies, expect a few more frost advisories to be issued so keep an eye on the nighttime forecasts. The WNW/NW flow could bring weak fronts with less frequent hard rains.

Should you plant your garden in early May? I wouldn't.  No way.  I was burned one year as a late May freeze wiped everything out.

How will the rest of the spring shape up?  Here are the questions to ask:

* No more La Nina. Does the neutral ENSO conditions prevail?
* Where will the warm/cool pools develop in the Atlantic
* Will the PDO continue to weaken?
* Will the northern Pacific warm pool back to the west and cool?
* How much variability will the MJO introduce into the pattern?
* Will any widespread precipitation extremes in the middle of the continent (wet or dry) enhance/weaken storm systems before they can impact Ohio?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Weekend Tornado Outbreak Videos

The weekend tornado outbreak was not record setting but it did feature some long track tornadoes. One report had a tornado with a track at 60 miles! Typically, the tornado number is adjusted lower once the National Weather Service examines the reports weeding out multiple reports. The video from storm chasers is breathtaking. Special thanks to all storm chasers who make these videos possible.

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