RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Old man winter did not have much fight in him this year, as Central Virginia hardly saw any snow or extreme cold this winter season.
People who bought winter gear before the season may not have used their new gear much at all. NBC12′s Andrew Freiden did not use his brand new snow boots all winter.
So what went wrong for snow lovers this year? Winter was unseasonably mild due in large part to the strength of the so-called “polar vortex”. A strong polar vortex actually means fewer cold shots in the U.S., because the strength of the vortex keeps the coldest air bottled up at arctic latitudes.
Scientists use an index called the Arctic Oscillation (or “AO” for short) to measure the strength of the circulation in the polar vortex. When the phase is negative and the polar vortex is weaker, colder air is more likely to move south into the U.S.
When the AO is in a positive phase, the coldest air is contained at far northern latitudes. The AO was in a positive phase most of the winter. At one point in mid to late February, the Arctic Oscillation hit an all time record high, which explains why it was so warm in the U.S.
Looking ahead to our spring outlook, it will likely be more of the same with a warmer than average temperature forecast in much of the U.S.
The remainder of March looks warm in Central Virginia with high temperatures frequently reaching the 60s and even some 70 degree days too. The Climate Prediction Center expects above average temperatures through at least May.
The weather pattern will likely be active with frequent periods of rainy weather. The Climate Prediction Center expects above average precipitation from March through May in the eastern half of the country.
Although signs point to above average rainfall, it’s difficult to say if this will mean more frequent thunderstorms or severe weather. The severe risk will depend on the exact track of low pressure and whether or not the ingredients come together for severe thunderstorms in each individual situation.
Now is the time to prepare for spring severe weather season so you will be ready no matter what mother nature throws at Virginia. Download the NBC12 First Alert Weather app for alerts and videos from the NBC12 weather team. You can also visit this recent blog about the Nashville tornadoes to learn what to do to stay safe if severe weather threatens.
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