How Will El Nino Affect Oklahoma's Spring Weather?
TULSA, Oklahoma - Last year brought record rainfall to Oklahoma, and El Nino is likely to greatly affect our weather as we move forward into spring.
We've had an El Niño for the history books sparking a record-setting blizzard on the East Coast, large and destructive tornadoes in the Deep South, and the historic floods in eastern Oklahoma back in late December.
This phenomenon has a history of creating unusual weather patterns for Oklahoma thanks to a stronger southern jet stream. Stephen Strum, an expert on El Nino who has forecast weather for major corporations, says more of its impacts will soon be felt.
"So in a strong El Nino we tend to see a very active late winter and early spring pattern across this part of the country, meaning a lot of storm systems, which keeps us wetter than normal and cooler than normal," said Stephen Strum, Frontier Weather.
So much moisture makes flooding more likely in Oklahoma. The ground is slow to drain its moisture in winter, and if we head into our wettest months of the year in spring with saturated soil, it won't take much to send our rivers and streams out of their banks again.
And all of this water along with a warmer than normal winter so far may have a big impact on our insect population.
"If it stays warm, we'll see larger number of pests in general earlier in the season," said Justin Buckmaster of Mother Nature's Pest and Lawn.
That means mosquitoes may thrive this year, posing a greater health risk. Fortunately, there's still more winter to come and a major cold spell could change things.
"If we can see below 30-degree temperatures for awhile, it helps the eggs go dormant and can even kill. Even a drier climate, you know, if we see drier conditions, insects do dry out," Buckmaster said.
We should see a drying trend when El Nino fades away. But until then, we may be in for some rough weather.
"Typically with a strong El Nino like we've seen, if they tend to persist into the latter part of the spring season we seem to have a tendency to have more severe weather than across Oklahoma in general, especially the western part of the state," said Stephen Strum, Frontier Weather.
So the bottom line is this: if El Nino fades early, then it would cut our severe season short, but the storm systems we do have could be powerful.
If El Nino stays strong through late spring, then we would likely see more tornadoes than normal.