Next month’s Southeast Monthly Climate Webinar is on Tuesday, May 11 at 10 a.m. Eastern, with a special presentation on "Overview of the U.S. Drought Monitor." Register here for upcoming webinars.
Climate Conditions and Outlooks
- March temperatures were near average, with a freeze during the first weekend in April.
- March precipitation was variable across the region with some areas very wet and above average (such as Alabama) and other areas very dry and below average (such as Florida).
- March had two severe weather outbreaks: 25 tornadoes in Alabama on March 17–18 and an EF-4 tornado in Georgia on March 25–26.
- A La Niña Advisory is still in effect, but is likely transitioning to neutral conditions during the spring (80% chance during May–July).
- Pollen season is still here. Visit the USA National Phenology Network to track the status of spring and pollen, and to see forecasts of pests and invasive species.
- Looking ahead: The next 6–10 days have a higher probability of cooler temperatures and drier conditions for most of the Southeast, and wetter conditions in Florida. The next three months will likely be warm, with Virginia and North Carolina likely to be wet.
- Short-term Moderate Drought (D1) is present in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, with Abnormally Dry (D0) conditions in Alabama, Georgia, and Virginia.
- Looking ahead: Further drought development is not likely for the rest of the month due to sufficient precipitation. Flash drought likelihood is low in spite of drought in southern Florida, but should still be watched.
Water Resources and Spring Flood Outlook
- Streamflows remain above normal across many of the headwater reaches of the larger rivers of the Southeast, with near-normal conditions elsewhere.
- Looking ahead: Drier weather and warmer temperatures will decrease stream flows across the region into late spring. The Late Spring Flood Outlook calls for typical late springtime river flooding, which from April to June is fairly minimal.
Agriculture Impact and Outlook
- Variable rainfall conditions have hurt some farmers and helped others. A warm spell accelerated development but has slowed due to recent colder conditions.
- Early April frost caused damage to blueberries, peaches, vegetables, and other crops, but this was not as bad as it could have been.
- Looking ahead: Cool conditions in the next two weeks will slow crop growth, with a low chance of frost except in the mountains. Water use by actively-growing plants means evapotranspiration will increase use of soil moisture quickly, so dry spells will have greater effect. Keep an eye on conditions and report them via the Condition Monitoring Observer Reports (CMOR) or your local extension agent.
Tornado Climatology and Forecasting in the Southeast
- The Southeast region experiences strong tornadoes, and they are more likely to occur during the cool season.
- There are a disproportionate number of casualties from tornadoes in the Southeast compared to other regions, in particular for nighttime fatalities. This is due to a number of factors, including faster storm speeds, larger percentage of mobile home and weak-frame housing stock, percent of forests and other land cover types that reduce visibility of both spotters and the public, and a higher population density.
- There is a lack of a focused “tornado season” in the South, which can lead to complacency. There are other human vulnerabilities (education, coping styles, warning distribution systems, etc.) that tend to increase the fatality rates within this region.
- For more information on the tornado research presented, contact Victor Gensini (firstname.lastname@example.org) or visit https://atlas.niu.edu/ and https://wcs.niu.edu/.
What Happened: Southeast Temperature
What Happened: Southeast Precipitation
Current Conditions: River Flood Status
Looking Ahead: Streamflow Forecast
Looking Ahead: Seasonal Outlooks
Spotlight on Tornadoes: Percent of Nighttime Fatalities
- Sandra Rayne, Southeast Regional Climate Center
- Jeff Dobur, National Weather Service Southeast River Forecast Center
- Pam Knox, University of Georgia
- Victor Gensini, Northern Illinois University
Relevant Regional Resources
Southeast Regional Climate Center (SERCC) [website currently under construction]