It’s looking like warm-weather lovers have reason to cheer next month.
Forecasters are projecting that March — and the rest of spring for that matter — have a fair chance of seeing warmer-than-normal conditions on Long Island.
March, April and May have a 40 to 50 percent chance for above-normal temperatures, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center.
At Long Island MacArthur Airport, the average monthly temperature for March is 39.3 degrees and 49 degrees for the entire season.
When it comes to precipitation, next month is tilting slightly toward above normal — which is 4.44 inches. For the entire season, however, there’s an equal chance for above, below or right at normal precipitation, which is 12.56 inches.
A strong El Niño, which is the warm phase in a complicated climate cycle, is expected to influence conditions at least through late spring, but looks to have peaked in December and is on a very slow decline, said Huug van den Dool, seasonal forecaster with the prediction center.
El Niño involves warmer-than-normal sea surface temperatures in the east and central tropical Pacific, which, in turn, can contribute to shifts in weather patterns worldwide.
Its counterpart, La Niña, with cooler-than-normal sea temperatures, could be in place this fall and into the winter of 2016-17, he said Thursday during a monthly media call.
“Forecasting Northeast winters is complicated, and La Niña winters are no exception,” said Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center based at Cornell. Given the placement of the polar jet stream, “La Niña can bring wet, active winters,” but other factors also play key roles. Winter in 2012, the last time La Niña was in play, “happened to be warm and mild,” she said.
Long Island had a taste of spring on Saturday as the temperature at Long Island MacArthur Airport hit a record 55 degrees at 1:13 p.m. — 1 degree above the previous record for Feb. 20 set in 1991, according to the service’s office in Upton.
Highs on Long Island through next Wednesday are expected to be mostly right around or above normal, with rain likely Sunday night and a chance of rain and snow Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.
With Candice Ruud