Wednesday, March 20, is the Spring Equinox. The days are getting longer. The ground and lakes are slowly warming, and thankfully, our yards have gotten a chance to dry out after a year of higher than average rainfall.
This week’s temperatures so far have been a bit lower than normal – as defined by the 30-year average from 1981 to 2010. For example, today’s average high temperature at Raleigh-Durham International Airport is 64 degrees and the average low is 41. At Fayetteville Regional Airport, those numbers are 67 and 42, respectively.
Of course, it’s actually rare that we experience exactly average temperatures, so it surprises me when people talk as if that’s what it takes to experience a season. Typically, it’s a little cooler than normal or a little warmer than normal. In fact, spring and autumn are transitional seasons, which means we ride a roller coaster of temperatures with some wild swings between the two for a few weeks.
As we head toward the weekend, our afternoon highs will creep up toward normal. By Sunday and Monday, they could be in the 70s. Then, if you believe the extended forecast from the GFS model, the bottom could drop out on Tuesday and Wednesday with January-like temperatures. Personally, I’m not sure I buy into the 30s and 40s for highs this late in March, but it’s not impossible. My expectation (and hope) is that the model will moderate those days as we get a little closer to them.
Even if the extreme temperatures hold true for Tuesday and Wednesday, by the following weekend, the afternoon highs should easily be back to the normal or above-normal range. In fact, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a good chance for above-average temperatures for the rest of March, April, and May. With an El Nino in full effect now, I see no reason to disagree with that forecast.