By Niki Morock, Meteorologist
What appears to be a simple question actually has a complicated answer. We can't extrapolate from this week's unusually warm days that in three months our weather will also be warmer than normal.
That being said, the Climate Prediction Center's temperature outlook for the next three months — March, April, and May — shows above-average chances for above-normal temperatures across much of the country including North Carolina.
One of the many things that forecasters consider when making these predictions is the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This winter featured a La Nina pattern, which typically results in warmer-than-normal temperatures across the southeast. Currenly, the oscillation is neutral — meaning that the ocean temperatures over the southern Pacific are about normal. Scientists expect the pattern to swing toward El Nino at some point this summer, and the resulting conditions could impact our weather. How much is hard to tell right now.
ENSO is not the only global pattern that affects our weather, but it is one that is better known. Its effects are more dramatic in the winter, but not exclusive to winter. For example, an El Nino in the fall makes hurricane development in the Atlantic more difficult.
At this point, our best guess is that the warmer-than-normal temperature trend will continue for the next several months, so it might be a good year to invest in some nice, cool fabrics and ice cream.