What a wonderful weekend it was, weather-wise. Temperatures were in the 80s, and it is not yet spring. What kind of weather is in store? Apparently warm weather and tornadoes.
AccuWeather.com reports an active severe weather season is anticipated in the U.S. for spring with the most widespread warmth since 2004.
"As far as the forecast for the spring of 2012, we do feel like it's going to be a mild spring for most of the nation from the eastern Rockies into the Ohio Valley and Great Lakes area," Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team, said. "At least two-thirds of the nation could wind up with above-normal temperatures."
An above-normal number of tornadoes are forecast for this season with water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico running above normal for this time of year. The active severe weather season follows a deadly year with a near-record number of tornadoes in 2011.
Typically, 1,300 tornadoes strike the U.S. a year. There were nearly 1,700 tornadoes in 2011, falling short of the record 1,817 tornadoes set in 2004. Illinois already suffered a devastating tornado March 1 in Harrisburg.
"Areas that seemed to miss out on frequent severe weather last year may see an uptick this year," AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said.
January was an unusually violent month for tornadoes in the country: 70 twisters have been reported. And more could be on the way.
This January is the third-highest in January since accurate tornado records began in 1950, Greg Carbin, warning coordination meteorologist with the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK, told USAToday. Since 1950, only January 1999 (with 212) and January 2008 (with 84) saw more tornadoes.
The pattern that led to the stormy January is forecast to continue, which could cause another savage storm season this spring. The climate pattern, called La Niña, tends to produce large tornado outbreaks from January to April across the USA. La Niña refers to cooler-than-average tropical Pacific Ocean water that affects weather and climate around the world. La Niña is forecast to continue into the spring, according to the Climate Prediction Center.
"The spring [temperatures] will start out well above normal through the Great Lakes but may head into a back-and-forth pattern for April and early May, more of a typical spring," Pastelok said. "Snow chances will be limited through March with a small chance for a couple of events in April."
Overall, despite some cool periods and chances of snow, most of the Great Lakes will end up with above-normal temperatures this spring. Chicago and Milwaukee will have above-normal temperatures and near-normal precipitation.