NOAA gives spring forecast for the region
Published 8:30 am Friday, March 24, 2023
Winter this year has been warmer than usual and keeping everyone guessing on what the weather will do next. On Thursday, March 16, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration held a briefing for Lunenburg County and the surrounding areas in Southside Virginia, giving people a better idea of what to expect.
Before looking forward, the NOAA described what happened this winter and how this will ultimately affect what is to come for Central and Southside Virginia. The seemingly backward weather across the country was due to the La Niña effect that took place.
This weather phenomenon, according to NOAA, is where trade winds are stronger than usual and push more warm water toward Asia bringing cold water toward the American west coast. This pushes the jet stream northward causing droughts in the southern United States and heavy rains in the Pacific Northwest and Canada.
This is why there have been reports of snow in California and 80-degree days here around Victoria.
“In fact, more than half of the U.S. saw their top 10 warmest seasons on record,” Jon Gottschalck, operational branch chief at NOAA’s climate prediction.
A few weeks ago, the La Niña was declared officially over after taking place over the past two years. NOAA expects what they call “ocean neutral” to last at least into the summer months. Ocean neutral means that temperatures are at or around normal without any presence of a La Niña or its opposite El Niño.
LOOKING AHEAD TO WHAT COMES NEXT
Now that the La Niña is over and things are shifting back to normal conditions, here is what NOAA expects for Southside Virginia from now through June.
After one of the wettest winters across the country, according to NOAA, Southside Virginia fared well without a drought and there is no drought expected to occur this spring. Due to these wet conditions, less than 40% of the country is experiencing moderate to exceptional droughts compared to nearly 60% this time last year, the lowest since August 2020.
Lunenburg County and the surrounding area also has around a 40% chance of seeing a wetter spring this year. Even though more rain is expected through the next few months, Southside Virginia is not at risk for a lot of flooding. There is a minor flood risk, meaning that there will be little to no property damage but roads may get covered in water.
“Please be advised that this outlook is on the time scale of weeks to months, not days or hours,” said Ed Clark, director at NOAA’s National Water Center. “Localized flooding may be caused by heavy and intensified rainfall at any time.”
Even though spring will be wet, it isn’t expected to be cold too. Along with a sizable portion of the South and East Coast, Southside Virginia is expected to have a 60% to 70% chance of a warmer spring.
This ocean neutral state isn’t expected to stay as conditions are right for an El Niño to occur in the late summer or early fall. This would create the opposite effect with drier conditions in the Northern United States and a wetter southern United States. This is not guaranteed and will be monitored throughout the spring with Gottschalck giving the possibility a 60% chance for the El Niño effect.