Return to wetter weather for remainder of spring

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 30, 2019

By Skip Rigney

April, May, and June are likely to average wetter and warmer than normal across the southeastern United States, including Pearl River County. That’s according to the spring outlook issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on March 15.

If this outlook is correct, it will be a switch from the trend in our area during the month of March. After a wet winter, March has been abnormally dry in Pearl River County. Rainfall totals generally have been less than two inches. And, even though there is a chance of showers this afternoon, tonight, and tomorrow, NOAA forecasters anticipate that totals for the last two days of the month will be less than one-third of an inch. That won’t do much to make up this month’s deficit, since the average rainfall in Pearl River County over the past 30 years of records has averaged about 5.5 inches.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

For scientists at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland, the most important tools in preparing their seasonal outlooks are several computer models of the atmosphere and ocean. These models fall into two categories.

The first category is called dynamical models. The second category of model tools used by seasonal forecasters is called statistical models.

Although not directly affecting our local area, the top national news in NOAA’s spring outlook is the elevated risk of moderate to major flooding along and near the Mississippi River in April and possibly as late as May. Above normal winter and early spring snow and rain in the north-central part of the country is responsible for the increased flood risk.

Increased water levels in the Mississippi River basin will eventually mean above-normal levels of freshwater discharge into the Gulf. In the past that has been associated with an overabundance of nutrients, lower oxygen levels, leading to fish kills during the summer along the Louisiana coast, west of the mouth of the Mississippi. Don’t be surprised if this “dead zone” becomes a big story in the New Orleans news market this summer.