WASHINGTON – This spring will be warmer than usual, forecasters say, and comes on the heels of a winter that will go down as the 10th-warmest on record for the region.
The National Weather Service’s 90-day forecast says spring, which begins at 8:46 p.m. Saturday, could be as much as 1.5 degrees warmer overall. A typical Maryland spring averages 61.2 degrees over the season.
“Averaging a degree or a degree-and-a-half above normal sounds tiny and it would be for just one day, but it’s very significant for a whole season,” said Tony Barnston, a meteorologist with NWS’ Climate Prediction Center in Camp Springs.
Barnston said the 90-day forecast issued Thursday calls for above-normal temperatures for the latter half of spring. He said there could be “spells of days where temperatures are way more than above normal.
“(We) could get up into the 90’s for couple of brief spells in May,” Barnston said. “That would be noteworthy to most.”
Meteorologists said some of the high temperatures recorded in the winter that just ended were more than noteworthy.
“This is just insane,” said Andy Woodcock, a NWS meteorologist in the Sterling, Va., office as he ticked off daily December temperatures that hit the high 70s. “That’s whacked.”
Woodcock said that besides being the 10th-warmest winter on record for the region, this was the third-straight winter with average temperatures higher than normal.
Woodcock said the average high was 49.3 degrees for February, 3.4 degrees above the 100-year average of highs for the month. He said the average low for February was 3.5 degrees higher than the 100-year average, at 32.6 degrees instead of the normal 29.1 degrees.
But Woodcock cautioned that long-term forecasts, determined by studying ocean temperatures in the tropics, might be more appropriately called “wishcasts.” And NWS headquarters spokesman Barry Reichenbaugh was quick to point out that “you can’t plan a wedding around these 90-day forecasts.”
The warm winter could not be foreseen by forecasters at the Farmers Almanac, which had called for a colder and snowier winter for the region. But almanac — which issues its forecasts as far as two years in advance — agrees with the NWS forecasts when it comes to this spring.
“Looking to spring, we’ll see delay, as bouts of chilly weather continue through April,” said Sandi Duncan, managing editor of the Farmers’ Almanac in Lewiston, Maine. “April is going to be kind of a tease, with spring beginning toward the end of April.”
At Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, a floor manager said Friday that the bouts of warmer weather that Maryland has had this winter tend to tempt garden enthusiasts.
David Adlaza said that freezing overnight temperatures in late May sometimes kill tender, annual flowers while bulbs or perennials are less likely to be damaged by weather fluctuations.
“People serious about gardening want to get the stuff out as early as possible,” Adlaza said. “But we still caution [customers] about late frosts despite the forecasts.” — Capital News Service reporter Amy Jeter contributed to this report.