Climatologists, forecasters expect active weather pattern from winter to carry into spring, summer

Nebraskans have certainly had more than enough experience with winter weather and flooding in recent weeks. Now, they have an opportunity to make sure they’re ready for spring and summer weather conditions. This week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in Nebraska. A statewide mock tornado watch and warning was issued at 10 a.m. Wednesday. Every year, this gives residents, businesses and schools the chance to practice what to do and how to be ready if severe weather approaches. The practice exercise was conducted in Nebraska and Iowa Wednesday, ahead of the most frequent time period for tornadoes in the midwest, which is April through June. "It's just a reminder to change from the terrible cold winter into spring," Jefferson and Saline County Emergency Manager John McKee said. "Everybody's outside, and Mother Nature is still in charge, so we have to be careful."  As for the spring and early summer weather outlook, Nebraska is still experiencing an El Niño weather pattern, which calls for warmer temperatures and above normal precipitation. Associate Nebraska State climatologist Al Dutcher says the active weather pattern seen this past winter will likely continue. "My suspicion is what we have been encountering for the past 5-6 months is probably going to continue at least into the foreseeable future," Dutcher said. "We still have an active storm pattern and an active El Niño event ongoing." Dutcher expects above normal temperatures in April, which likely means planting season will commence in a timely manner. Dutcher also expects the El Niño pattern to possibly continue through the end of the summer. This could signal a greater risk for tornadoes with any severe storms that develop this season. "We've been quieter the last few years," McKee said. "Hopefully, people are now aware that this could be an increased potential (for severe weather) this year. But, then again, we could get by...and hopefully, we just get rain." You can follow Tommy on Twitter @Tommy_NCN.