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NOAA's spring outlook: A cool April, then things start to heat up

A dramatic evening with a intense rain squall against the foothills outside of Monroe with a hint of a rainbow colors on March 14, 2018 (Photo: Andrew Kim)

Spring is less than a week away and NOAA is celebrating by putting out their annual spring outlook. At first blush, we should probably not be expecting any long stretches of 70 degrees anytime soon, but it's looking promising for warm weather fans to make up for it again this summer.

First, let's recap where we are now. La Niña, which took a while, but finally made its presence known in February into early March, is still technically here, but on its way out. Forecasters give a 55 percent chance La Niña will officially be over during this spring, leaving us in neutral conditions.

But until then, it's expected to weigh on the pattern at least for another month or so. La Niña tends to keep things a little cooler and wetter around here in general, and thus forecasters have given slightly better odds of April being cooler than normal:

That's good to keep the snowpack going at least, which is the one thing La Niña got mostly right this winter. Snowpack in the Washington Cascades is right about spot-on normal for this time of year. I suppose La Niña winters usually leave us in the "above average" snowpack category, but it's better than Oregon, who somehow got ignored by La Niña and is running about 50-65 percent of normal.

Once we get past April and into the heart of spring, the NOAA forecasters have the "EC" notation, which means "Equal Chances" or, no signal either way of warm or cold. Same goes for precipitation. They use "EC" because it's easier to type than that weird shrugging shoulders icon: ¯\_(")_/¯

So to recap spring: A cool start, then probably some semblance of normal as La Niña fades away into neutral conditions.

What about summer? Perhaps a repeat of the past four.

Long range forecasts are painting a more confident signal that the summer months will be warmer than normal -- again.

Granted, we're comparing "normal" against the 30 year average of 1980-2010 and for much of this decade, summers have been much warmer than that period. But signs are there this could be the fifth consecutive summer with a hotter summer than long range averages around the Northwest. Since 2014, Seattle has had several more 80+ and 90+ degree days than normal.

Wanting to get a peek into next fall and winter? With no solid lean toward El Niño or La Niña just yet, and neutral conditions perhaps prevailing, it might be summed up the way the internet knows best: ¯\_(")_/¯

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