With February’s temperatures so far averaging 4 degrees above normal on Long Island, there’s potential for this warming trend to continue through March, and even spring, seasonal forecasters say.
These long-range forecasters with the Climate Prediction Center see temperatures averaging slightly above normal for March, as well as for the period from March through May, known as meteorological spring by weather enthusiasts. That would be for the area of the Northeast that includes Long Island.
There’s a 40 to 50 percent chance for above-normal temperatures — as opposed to near normal and below normal — said Dan Collins, seasonal forecaster with the prediction center, which is under the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
As for precipitation, there was not a strong enough signal from computer models to make a call for the Northeast, so forecasters left it as an equal chance of above, below or near normal. Spring forecasts, however, were leaning toward a 40 to 50 percent chance to be wetter than normal.
So, what’s behind these calls?
“The current La Niña and long-term trends are tipping the outlooks to favor above-normal temps for March and spring for part of the Northeast,” said Jessica Spaccio, a climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University. La Niña, associated with cooler than normal temperatures in the tropical Pacific, is a climate pattern that affects weather worldwide.
La Niña is expected to quickly diminish, but Collins said its effects will be lingering.
Still, even though the month or season could average at warmer than normal, that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be cooler days in the mix.
The normal monthly temperature at Long Island MacArthur Airport for March is 39.3 degrees, with precipitation at 4.44 inches. Spring’s normal average temperature is 49.1 degrees, with precipitation at 12.56 inches.