La Nina Fades; How Does This Impact Our Weather?

Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): Today the government officially declared La Nina has ended and the equatorial Pacific sea surface temperature anomalies are back to near average. This ends a three year La Nina, which began in the middle of 2020. What does this mean for our weather?

In the short term, our weather is being guided by a disrupted polar vortex that started in mid-February. Near to colder than average temperatures and several chances for light snow accumulation are in the forecast through the vernal equinox or first day of spring.

Looking ahead through May, three similar years where La Nina winters transitioned to a neutral phase of ENSO in March include 1996, 2001 and 2009.

Beckley averages 12.29 inches of precipitation in the spring and Bluefield 12.09 inches. Spring 1996 brought 14.78 inches to Beckley and 14.76 inches to Bluefield. Spring 2001 fell just short of average with 11.83 inches in Bluefield and 11.41 inches in Beckley. In 2009, precipitation was right on track with averages in both cities.

Those three neutral analog years also produced a cooler than average spring across southern West Virginia. The average final spring freeze of the season (the date in which the traditional growing season starts) in Beckley is April 29. The final 1996 spring freeze occurred on May 14. In 2001, it was April 26 and in 2009 it was May 18.

Bluefield’s average final spring freeze is April 19. All three analog spring seasons were right on cue with a final spring freeze between April 12-19.

The takeaway message here is a transition out of La Nina simply means southern West Virginia will see a typical spring pattern with a likelihood of a few inches of snow, occasional rain and thunder and no prospect for an anonymously early or very late final spring freeze. Southern West Virginia will also steer away from drought development this spring.

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