The current La Nina phase has continued to hold its strength during the past month. Sea-surface temperatures remain between 1 and 2 degrees colder than average across much of the Equatorial Pacific Ocean.
The latest long-range climate models continue to indicate that this La Nina will persist at least through spring. As for the March temperature outlook, slightly colder than average conditions are predicted for the Pacific Northwest based primarily on factoring in the presence of the ongoing La Nina. Total heating degree-days during March are forecasted to be higher than average by between 30 and 90 in this region.
Analyzing past climate data in which a similar strength and duration of La Nina was occurring during late winter, specifically 1984, 1996 and 1999, reveals that colder than average temperatures also are common across parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes during March. Heating degree-day surpluses of between 30 and 60 are expected across these regions. As a result, energy costs with respect to heating also are expected to be slightly higher.
Portions of the Desert Southwest, southern Rockies, and southwestern Texas will see slightly warmer than average temperatures and slightly lower than average late-season heating degree-day totals. Much of the East Coast is expected to see temperatures, which on a whole, average closer to normal during March.