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Status of Spring
How do you know when spring has begun? Is it the appearance of the first tiny leaves on the trees, or the first crocus plants peeping through the snow? The First Leaf and First Bloom Indices are synthetic measures of these early season events in plants, based on recent temperature conditions. These models allow us to track the progression of spring onset across the country.
How does this spring compare to "normal"?
Spring leaf-out has arrived in all of the Continental US and Alaska. Spring arrived 1-3 weeks late in the Southeast, northern Great Plains, Midwest, and Northeast and 1-3 weeks early across the central Great Plains, Ohio Valley and mid-Atlantic, compared to a long-term average (1981-2010). The west is a patchwork of early and late arrival.
First bloom, occurring later than First Leaf and associated with blooming of early spring plants and leaf out of deciduous trees, tells a slightly different story. First Bloom arrived earlier than a long-term average (1981-2010) across much of the West, Southeast and upper Northeast and later than average across much of the central US, mid-Atlantic, and coastal Northwest.
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When did spring arrive at locations across the country?
The First Leaf Index map at right shows locations that have reached the requirements for the Spring Leaf Index model so far this year.
The First Bloom Index map at right shows locations that have reached the requirements for the First Bloom Index model.
Learn more about the Extended Spring Indices and the data products available.
USA-NPN also produces a suite of Accumulated Growing Degree Day map products.
What is behind these maps?
The Extended Spring Indices are mathematical models that predict the "start of spring" (timing of leaf out or bloom for species active in early spring) at a particular location (Schwartz 1997, Schwartz et al. 2006, Schwartz et al. 2013). These models were constructed using historical observations of the timing of first leaf and first bloom in a cloned lilac cultivar (S. x chinensis 'Red Rothomagensis') and two cloned honeysuckle cultivars (Lonicera tatarica 'Arnold Red' and L. korolkowii 'Zabelii').
Primary inputs to the model are temperature and weather events, beginning January 1 of each year (Ault et al. 2015). Maps are based on temperature products from NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis.
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