Sea-surface temperatures across much of the equatorial Pacific Ocean continue to run between 0.5 and 2 degrees cooler than average. This indicates that the current La Nina phase is persisting as expected. The latest long-range climate models continue to suggest this La Nina phase will maintain itself into the upcoming spring.
As for March, cooler than average temperatures are forecast across portions of the Pacific Northwest, northern Rockies, northern Plains and upper Midwest. Total heating degree-days along with heating costs are projected to be somewhat higher than normal across these regions.
On the flip side, warmer than average temperatures are expected throughout much of the southern United States with total heating degree-day deficits of between 30 and 60 forecast during March. Most of the eastern third of the country is forecast to see temperatures closer to normal.
All indications are that the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) will remain positive, which likely will prevent any significant, prolonged, late-season cold snaps. Because the NAO has been positive for essentially the entire winter, many locations across the Midwest, Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic and Northeast likely will see one of their warmest winters on record.