Warmer than normal temperatures and recent January weather events have put Austin on track to see an earlier than normal start to spring.
Mathematical models run by the National Phenology Network are used to predict the “start of spring”, or the timing of leaf out or blooms for species active in early spring.
Recent model runs put Austin’s spring leaf out 10 days earlier than the long term average (1981-2010). Other cities like Jackson, MS, Charleston, SC and Wilmington, NC are all predicted to have spring arrive at least 2 weeks earlier than normal.
The First Leaf Index is based on the leaf out of lilacs and honeysuckles, which are among the first plants to show their leaves in the spring. This Index is associated with the first leafing of early-spring shrubs and other plants.
Given that these indices are outputs of computer models, there is room for change with future model runs (change input –> change in output).
That being said, temperature models put out by the Climate Prediction Center show warmer than normal temperatures are likely in Central Texas through Spring of 2021.
Given that the prediction of a 10-day jump start to spring 2020 is driven by the warmer than normal temps we’ve had this past month… and that models continue to show warmer than normal temps through early next year, it is likely that we’ll stay on track to see spring 10 days earlier than normal – if not even earlier than that!
To find more information on the NPN’s ‘Status of Spring’, click here.