In some regions of the United States, spring can be unpredictable. Each year seems to bring different weather at different stages, never the same. Warm spells in February, snow in March, a late or early spring thaw; all of these and more are possible each spring. So why is spring weather so hard to pin down?
A process called albedo can occur where dense snowpacks are present during the spring months. In early spring, the sunlight grows stronger than in previous winter months. But if a winter season caused a large amount of snow, the heightened sunshine can reflect off of residual snow on the ground, keeping the sun’s energy from melting the snow.
Albedo refers to the reflectivity of the snow that can decrease an area’s ability to warm up. In some cases, snowpack can create a microclimate due to albedo, keeping temperatures much colder, even into the months of spring.
Alternatively, if winter snows were light, albedo will not occur in great amounts, allowing warm temperatures to bring forth spring early on in the season.
The size and flow of winter and spring jet streams can impact spring weather. Jet streams can bring cold arctic air to an area and prolong winter into the typical spring months. Or a jet stream can flow north or south of an area and allow warmer temperatures to flourish. The movement of jet streams in spring can sometimes cause early season tornadoes if springtime weather is allowed to warm in an area.