Spring-like weather teases South Sound

After a sunny day Friday, another bright day forecast for today and Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, it appears spring has sprung.

The sun is expected to break loose from the clouds again today, just as it did yesterday. Temperatures will warm into the mid-50s.

“Saturday should start out nice and sunny and dry,” said Johnny Burg, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Seattle.

It’s also the last day for months that the sun will set before 7 p.m. After folks move their clocks forward an hour tonight, tomorrow’s sunset will be at 7:09 p.m.

In a way, it’s already spring. Meteorological spring started March 1, Burg said. But it’s just shorthand for weather forecasters, making for what Burg called a “neat, three-month block” of a season.

Actual spring starts at 4:20 a.m. Pacific time on March 20, the vernal equinox.

But don’t break out the shorts just yet. The Climate Prediction Center says there’s a 60 percent chance of temperatures being below normal through March and April, Burg said. And there’s a 50-50 chance that precipitation will be above or below normal.

Bottom line: enjoy the sunshine while it lasts. Clouds will build back in tonight, and there’s a 30 percent chance of rain forecasted for tomorrow. Rain is likely through at least Friday. Temperatures will be about normal, in the 50s, with lows a little above normal, in the 40s, Burg said.

On the whole, winter has been pretty close to normal, Burg said. December temperatures were about a degree above normal, but precipitation was 2 1/4 inches above normal.

In Janurary, temperatures were 3.3 degrees below normal, but precipitation was almost three inches below normal. That’s due to a foggy, dry streak that lasted nearly two weeks.

February was a half-degree above normal, but precipitation was almost an inch and a quarter below normal.

This year is considered a neutral meteorological year, compared to the last two La Nina winters, with colder temperatures and above-average precipitation. Last year brought Thurston County more than a foot of snow.

This year, accumulating snow has been nowhere in sight in the lowlands. And it’s likely to stay that way for the remainder of the winter.

“I would say that with each passing day … the snow threat gets smaller and smaller,” Burg said.

He cited statistics that show measurable snow in March a handful of times for the first 10 days of March in the last 65 years. But the probabilities plummet after that. Snow is possible into April, he said.

“It’s still … a possibility, but it’s a very, very small one,” he said.

Though lowland snow is looking less likely, the snowpack in the mountains isn’t too bad, Burg said. Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic Mountains has seen 114 inches accumulation, 131 percent above normal.

Though the long-range forecast looks cooler than usual, Berg noted that the forecasts are not set in stone.

“You know they can change,” he said.