The last 3 months can definitely be hailed as the winter that just wouldn’t quit. The biggest highlight was above average snowfall. Not just in Washington but all across the East.
Snow plows, snow blowers and shovels were hard at work this winter in the East. Almost every major Interstate 95 city had above-average snowfall through mid-March. Below is a list of the major cities and seasonal snowfall departures.
The excessive snowfall and active pattern have helped contain moisture at the surface. As of the end of February, soil moisture was 20 to 40% above average in the Washington area.
Spring is typically a volatile time of the year because gusty winds and sunshine can quickly dry out the top soil resulting in high fire danger. The active pattern will help curb the fire danger a notch on dry days going through early spring.
The constant barrage of cold blasts has also chilled the soil. As a matter of fact, top soil temperatures are 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit colder than average in the Washington area. The cold departure is much more significant from the Northern Tier into the Southern Plains. Here, top soil temperatures are more than 10 degrees below average..
The cold surface will delay the growing season a bit and is responsible for the later than average peak bloom of the cherry blossoms in Washington.
Fortunately, drought isn’t on the horizon across the D.C. area through the start of summer. A high pressure ridge that has kept the West dry is the area most susceptible to more significant precipitation departures. Meanwhile, drought will likely get washed away in the Central Plains and Midwest as seen below.
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