Spring to begin chilly, but warmer than usual season predicted overall

Spring to begin chilly, but warmer than usual season predicted overall

March 19th, 2018 by Rosana Hughes in Local Regional News

Geetika Sharma, 5, runs with her kite during the CIFA Kite Festival Sunday, March 18, 2018, at the Tennessee Riverpark along Amnicola Highway in Chattanooga, Tenn. The festival is traditionally held on January 14 or 15, but because to the weather being too cold at that time in Chattanooga, the event was celebrated in March.

Photo by Erin O. Smith /Times Free Press.

It's the last day of winter today, but forecasters are predicting a rather chilly first day of spring on Tuesday and the days following.

Before the cold, a chance for severe weather is rolling in this evening, said Nick Austin, weekend meteorologist for WRCB-TV News Channel 3. It marks the beginning of severe weather season for the region.

Then on Tuesday a cold front from the west is blowing in late Tuesday, bringing lows down to freezing or close to it in some areas. Highs are expected to remain below 60 for the most part before things warm up again toward the end of the week.

Five-day forecast

50 low, 68 high
70 percent chance of rain

39 low, 62 high
20 percent chance of rain

32 low, 55 high
20 percent chance of rain

35 low, 54 high
0 percent chance of rain

44 low, 59 high
10 percent chance of rain

Higher elevations might see a few flurries, Austin said.

"Probably won't see much in the city, but certainly some in the mountains could see just a little bit of light snow on Tuesday night," he said.

Normal highs for this time of year are in the mid-60s, Austin said. Wednesday and Thursday's highs will be about 10 degrees below normal.

But despite the chilly start, the spring temperature outlook projects above-average U.S. temperatures through June for much of the Southern states, Hawaii and Northern Alaska, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Tennessee only has about a 45 percent chance to see warmer than usual temperatures, while Georgia and Alabama have up to 70-percent chance in southern parts of those states.

Slightly warmer temperatures mean plants might bloom earlier and will need to be watered more frequently, said Troy Carlson, a manager at The Barn Nursery. But it doesn't adversely affect the health of the plant.

Temperatures for the past few months have seen significant swings, from deep freezes to more warm, 60 degree or higher weather. Carlson said this hasn't negatively affected the nursery's plants, but he has seen some already begin to bloom.

"The early warmth we had might have brought the daffodils out a little early, but not to any ill effect," he said. "They all seemed to have bloomed and done their thing as usual."

Overall, he said the weather has been "kind of crazy" lately.

"March is always a grab bag. It's always a toss up in terms of weather," he said, adding that there's always a chance for cold weather until mid-April or early-May in higher elevations, which is the when the last killing frost takes place on average.

When it comes to rain, climate predictions point to average rainfall during spring months for the region. Average rainfall for the Chattanooga area is about four inches per month, said Tim Doyle, meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

But each year is different, he said. For example, last year the region saw about 10 inches of rain in April, while 2016 was very dry. Each month of spring 2016 received no more than 1.4 inches, which gave way to rampant forest fires in Southeastern states.

"Each year can vary quite a bit," Doyle said. "These forecasts are real broad, real general. Just those two years were totally different."

Contact staff writer Rosana Hughes at rhughes@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6327 with tips or story ideas. Follow her on Twitter @HughesRosana.