Weather Ready Nation Report – Spring Equinox


After cold and harsh winters, Spring is a time where we can finally get out and enjoy longer days and warmer weather. But have you ever given any thought as to why this happens? 
“The Spring equinox is when the earth pretty much has no tilt toward or away from the sun, and the sun moves across basically the equator.”

While the Earth rotates around the sun, it swivels on an axis of about 23.5 degrees reaching its crest on both the Summer and Winter solstices, which is why we see our longest and shortest days at these times. However, during the Spring and Autumnal equinoxes, the angle of the Earth’s axis is equal to the sun, providing nearly equal sunlight to the entire surface. This increased sunlight just so happens to be the main energy source required for our crops to grow, which is why everything begins to bloom after coming out of hibernation. The increase in sunlight also means more energy for something a little more ominous.

“Yeah a lot of it has to do with the air flow and the jet stream. We tend to get some left over cold air at jet airplane altitude, 20 or 30,000 feet because there’s a lag there. You don’t have that in the Fall, it’s still kind of warm as you enter the Fall. That cold air aloft combined with the warm air down here where we live results in unstable conditions, and if you can get the air moving up then it will keep moving up and tower up to great heights. And of course all that results in all of our thunderstorms, wind, hail, and even sometimes tornadoes”.

As plenty of us know, Spring time in the South Plains means severe weather season. Since Spring begins tomorrow, now would be the perfect time to start preparing for the severe weather season which can last from now well through June. Although forecasting long range severe weather is no easy feat.

“It’s really tough, you know, when we look at those outlooks, there’s not a lot of predictability. You know, we do put those outlooks out. When we’re looking at jet stream changes, sometimes to be fairly reliable in what we see coming down the line, maybe out a week or two is about the best we can do. The long range outlooks now when you look out about 2 to 3 months are not showing a strong signal. They are showing slightly drier as we get into late Spring and first month of Summer. […] One thing about, if we continue this series of storms coming from the southwest, if that were to hold, it’s hard to say whether it will hold beyond a few weeks. But if that were to continue into late April, May, perhaps even into early June, it would be very favorable for an active severe weather season. But probably a little too early to put too much confidence in that, we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. But this kind of pattern, if you superimpose it on late May could be very, very active.”

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