Saturday was the start of meteorological spring, and forecasters with the National Weather Service in St. Louis offered the best weather news in a couple of years for Central Missouri.
After flooding and severe storms including tornadoes in 2019, Mid-Missouri is expected to see a "normal" amount of precipitation this spring.
NWS hydrologist Mark Fuchs said there is "nothing extraordinary" in the models his office has seen for the next three months. Normal rainfall in Central Missouri would be around 13.2 inches from April through June.
"We should have above-normal temperatures, but we're not looking to be extraordinarily warm," Fuchs said. "The average temperature for April through early June should be around 64 degrees."
Conventional springtime starts March 20 and ends June 20, the day of the summer solstice. March 20 is the equinox, which is when hours for the daytime and nighttime are equal.
Meteorological spring is considered to be March, April and May. The other meteorological seasons consist of three consecutive months: Meteorological winter is December, January, February. Meteorological summer is June, July, August.
This past winter was not an extraordinary period until February, according to Fuchs.
"It was shaping up to be a resoundingly warm winter until we got to Feb. 8-19," Fuchs said. "That brutally cold pattern wiped out that warmth we had seen before."
The cold snap led to this February being the ninth coldest on record. A new record of 8 degrees below zero was recorded Feb. 16.
Still, Fuchs said, the region was near normal for winter temperatures, with an average high of just under 40 degrees; the normal average is 41. The main NWS reporting station in Central Missouri, Columbia Regional Airport, recorded 13.3 inches of snow; normal snowfall would average 15.2 inches.
He said this season tied for the third-lowest amount of snowfall on record.
La Nina, the complex weather pattern that occurs every few years as a result of variations in ocean temperatures in the equatorial band of the Pacific Ocean, is still happening, but it is weakening and should be gone by late spring or early summer.
"This year's La Nina pattern led to a light winter for us here in Central Missouri and for a large part of the country," Fuchs said. "The La Nina pattern will have the worst weather going to the north and western parts of the country, leaving us with a fairly normal pattern in the middle part of the country."
Thanks to the normal precipitation pattern forecast for Central Missouri, the NWS Spring Flood Outlook, which includes the Missouri River from Jefferson City to its confluence with the Mississippi River in St. Louis, is showing minor flooding is likely along the Missouri River and a near-normal flood risk for most local streams, he said.
Flows along the Missouri River have been below normal through most of the past winter, providing a low to average starting point for the river to accept future runoff. Soils have dried out considerably across the Upper Midwest since last summer, while local areas have near- to below-normal soil moisture. This will provide the middle Missouri River basin with additional storage, which acts as a deterrent to flooding.