Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

National news

March 22, 2014

Spring forecast: Cool in North, still dry in West

(Continued)

The snowman stuffed with shredded paper usually is dubbed Frosty. But this one was named Polar Vortex after the frigid air mass that punished the East Coast and Midwest this winter and pushed cold into the South.

Since the snowman is usually lit with a propane torch, "you've got sparks flying, and we don't need anybody to get a hole burned in a coat or worse," said university spokesman Tom Pink.

Some were disappointed but others preferred waiting until Friday "when it's supposed to be sunny — at least a little like spring," he said.

In the West, parched conditions that have gripped California and the Southwest will continue with little relief, the federal government reported in its annual spring outlook. If the drought persists, it'll likely lead to a busy wildfire season.

California is in its third consecutive dry year, forcing some rural communities to ration water and farmers to sell their cattle.

"Looking forward, we see little improvement unfortunately in some of the most impacted drought areas," said Gottschalck, acting operations chief at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

Below-average rainfall and snowfall coupled with the upcoming dry season could cause parts of Arizona, New Mexico and west Texas to develop drought conditions, he said.

While the northern U.S. could see below-normal temperatures, forecasters said it is likely to be warmer than usual along the West Coast, across the southern portion of the country and in Alaska.

The spring outlook comes after NOAA and many private weather forecast companies predicted equal chances for unusual warmth, cold, snow, rain and even average weather for the winter due to lack of certain global weather factors.

NOAA's Mike Halpert said the weather-weary nation is ready for a change.

"After a memorable winter I suspect most of us are ready for spring," he said in a NOAA video.

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Online:

NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov

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AP writers Malcolm Ritter in New York, Blake Davis in Portland, Maine, and John Flesher in Traverse City, Mich., contributed to this report.

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Follow Alicia Chang at http://twitter.com/SciWriAlicia

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