Chris Coleman, ERCOT Meteorologist
Spring 2018 Weather Outlook
This past winter was significantly colder than the previous two winters; however, it will rank in the middle of the pack of all historical winters. Of recent winters, winter 2017-18 will be most similar to winter 2014-15, which is close to the all-time normal.
The spring season will see some lingering impacts from winter. The weak La Niña will continue in place through most or all of the spring, potentially fading by late-spring.
In general, the spring season is likely to lean in the warmer-than-normal direction for ERCOT as a whole. It will include some below-normal periods, however – including in the first-half of March. But the season as a whole will likely see more periods of normal to above-normal temperatures. One exception though, as portions of the South and Coast zones could average slightly below-normal for the season as a whole. The Panhandle is the region most likely to see the strongest above-normal temperature anomaly this spring.
With exception to a wet second-half of February for much of Texas, the winter season was generally quite dry. The late-winter rain provided drought relief to much of North and East Texas and some limited assistance to Central Texas. However, much of South and West Texas recorded very limited precipitation this past winter.
The spring season will see some ERCOT regions recording significantly more rainfall than others. A widespread, extreme dry spring is not anticipated – nor is the wet late-February expected to be the norm going forward.
For the spring season as a whole, the best opportunity for a wetter-than-normal season will be over southwest portions of the state. The map above may be a bit overdone with precipitation expectations in the Rio Grande Valley – though a wet late-spring is quite possible. Laredo to Del Rio to near Fort Stockton has the best opportunity for a wet spring – possibly extending west into Big Bend and outside of ERCOT to El Paso.
The Panhandle, however, could see already a large rainfall deficit continue to deteriorate during the spring months. This will likely bring extreme drought concerns to that region of the state heading into summer. The drier-than-normal area could expand into portions of the northern Far West and West zones – as well as western portions of the North and North Central zones. Most of the rest of ERCOT (including Central Texas, East, and Coast) should see spring rainfall close to normal – either a bit below or a bit above.
In general, late-spring shows greater potential for widespread, significant rainfall than early-spring does.
Preliminary Summer Weather Outlook
At this time, not seeing a strong signal toward an extremely hot, above-normal summer. There are preliminary signs pointing toward below-normal temperatures for West Texas and above-normal for the eastern-half of the state -- but not necessarily extreme, record-breaking type of heat. This forecast will be fine-tuned and finalized by May 1.