The mental image of spring may be sunny days and a garden full of flowers, but that’s not always the case. Spring is also known for producing a wide range of extreme weather – some including severe thunderstorms which lead to flooding, large temperature changes, high winds, and even snowstorms.
Why is this?
It’s a simple reason, really. Warmer air tries to push farther north, and the last of winter’s cold plunges south. That temperature contrast creates a strong jet stream and highly variable weather conditions. There are a host of opportunities for severe weather throughout the Spring. Here, we outline several to be prepared for just in case they come your way.
The severe weather event most associated with Spring? Tornadoes. Although they can occur any time of year, the differing range in temperatures can cause an increase in tornado activity, with them peaking throughout April, May, and June. The highest tornado risk shifts in the Spring from the Southern United States toward the Plains and Midwest from April and into May.
River flooding usually occurs in the Spring in the Plains and Midwest. A sharp temperature change can quickly cause the melting of snowpack that can then spill into rivers and cause them to flood. But, the worst flooding happens when bouts of heavy rain move across an area where the ground is already saturated from winter snowmelt or rain. Since the ground cannot absorb any of the rain, serious flooding can occur and potentially inundate city streets and even homes.
Flash flooding can also occur as the threat of severe thunderstorms increase. If rain persists at a rate of more than an inch an hour for multiple hours, flash flooding can cause severe damage to homes, roads, and even towns.
As much as most people are looking forward to warmer temperatures this time of year, many part of the US can still see a multitude of winter storms in the Spring. Most commonly from the Rockies and upper Midwest, heavy snowstorms can even produce blizzards in severe cases.
High Winds & Varied Temperatures
High winds often accompany spring storms, with the windiest time taking place during early Spring. Remember that saying March winds and April showers bring May flowers? Well, it’s not too far off. All the wind in March lead way for storms in April and the beauty of Spring really is able to shine in May.
Especially if you live in the Lowcountry, Spring can host an abundance of wide ranging temperatures. Just because one day your seeing temperatures in the 80’s doesn’t mean the warmth is going to stick around. The next week you may see a frost! This is usually the case throughout March and April, as strong low-pressure systems move through the central and easter states and cause warm air to move into the northern tier of the country. Inevitably, a cold plunge will arrive after the front, taking away the brief glimpse of Spring. Later in Spring, the atmosphere becomes less prone to wild temperature swings and allows for longer-lasting periods of warmth and sunshine.