The weather pattern across the USA this spring appears to be "vastly different than last March, and will translate to a more favorable growing season for agriculture" in many areas, according to a spring forecast released Wednesday by private forecasting company AccuWeather.
"The arrival of rain and snowstorms this winter and ongoing into March has paved the way for a more positive outlook into the early summer from parts of the Plains to the East Coast, where much of the nation's corn is grown," the forecast notes.
Drought is not expected to be a problem this spring in eastern parts of the Corn Belt, such as in Illinois, Indiana and the Ohio Valley, AccuWeather meteorologist Jack Boston says. He says the Southeast should continue to see above average precipitation through the spring as well.
"From Alabama to the Carolinas, there has been enough rainfall over the winter to all but wipe out the drought that started last summer," the AccuWeather forecast says.
But concerns remain about lack of precipitation in western parts of the country: "After another couple of opportunities for moisture in the next month or so, by April it looks like California, the Intermountain West, the central and southern Rockies, and the High Plains will go back into a warm and dry pattern," Boston says.
According to AccuWeather meteorologist Ken Clark, "a lack of big snowstorms over the Sierra Nevada and other ranges in the West could mean water resource limitations in California."
As for severe weather and tornadoes, Boston says that this year will likely be an "average season," somewhere between the ferocity of 2011 and the relative calm of 2012. He sees the areas where severe weather is most likely include the mid-Mississippi Valley, along the Gulf states, and in the Tennessee and Ohio Valleys.
Average temperatures are significantly lower so far this March across the USA, when compared to last year: March 2012 was the warmest March in U.S. weather history, the National Climatic Data Center reported last year, when more than 15,000 warm temperature records were set.
So far this month, temperatures are much closer to average. In fact, in each of the past three weeks, which includes the end of February and the beginning of March, there were more record daily low reports than daily record high reports, Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton says.
Overall, less long-lasting, extreme heat is forecast from the Mississippi Valley to the East during most of the spring and summer, according to AccuWeather.
Doyle Rice, @usatodayweather, USA TODAY