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Spring weather has changed over the years

Climate Central: Alabama has gotten progressively warmer
Spring in Alabama
Published: Mar. 4, 2022 at 11:36 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Spring is in the air in Central Alabama! We’ve had spring-like temperatures all week as March continues its unseasonably warm start. By the time this warm stretch is done we’ll have gotten close to several record highs in Montgomery.

This kind of warmth is unusual this early in the year, but it’s not necessarily shocking or unheard of. We have recorded 80-degree high temperatures in every single month of the year, including January and February.

The average spring temperature in Montgomery has warmed 2.7 degrees since 1970.
The average spring temperature in Montgomery has warmed 2.7 degrees since 1970.(Climate Central)

This is actually something that has become more “normal” over the years. According to a recent write-up by Climate Central, the spring season is both warming and shifting across the U.S.

That includes all of Alabama.

Climate Central analyzed spring season data from 1970 to 2021 and found that the average springtime temperature has gone up or remained steady in the cities looked at in Alabama. That includes Montgomery, Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, Anniston, and Dothan.

There has also been an increase in the number of warmer-than-normal spring days.

We've added 16 days spent above normal during the spring in Montgomery since 1970.
We've added 16 days spent above normal during the spring in Montgomery since 1970.(Climate Central)

For Montgomery the average spring temperature has risen nearly 3°F over the last 52 years, and we get 16 more above normal days now than we did back in 1970!

Nearly all of Alabama, the Southeast, the Mid-Atlantic, the Ohio Valley, and the West have seen a similar rise of 2-4°F since 1970. The map below shows the change in the average spring temperature.

Temperatures have risen during the spring for a majority of the U.S. since 1970.
Temperatures have risen during the spring for a majority of the U.S. since 1970.(Climate Central)

As mentioned above, the spring season isn’t just warming up; it’s also shifting. These early season strings of way-above-normal temperatures like we’re seeing now are becoming more common overall. Basically, the spring season is kicking off earlier than it used to. This isn’t true every single year, but it is the case when you look a bunches of years and average things out.

With the earlier starts to spring, we’re seeing longer pollen and allergy seasons, bugs emerging earlier and impacts to some ecosystems. For example, a long stretch of way-above-normal weather in early March causes things to bloom, but since it’s so early on it’s very possible to get a shot of cold weather still. That shot of cold could be problematic since so many things “think” spring has already begun.

The all-important question is what about this year?

The latest Climate Prediction Center outlook for March, April and May.
The latest Climate Prediction Center outlook for March, April and May.(WSFA 12 News)

Well, we can’t give you a day-by-day forecast all the way through the end of spring, but we can show you the Climate Prediction Center spring outlook. That outlook is above and paints a warm picture for Alabama and surrounding states.

It’s not a guarantee that the entirety of spring will be warmer than normal, but it does suggest that the spring season will finish warmer than normal overall. There will most definitely be cool to even chilly days and nights mixed in, but the outlook tells us we’ll have more “warm” days as opposed to “cooler” days.

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