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We declare winter over and spring here, effective today

An early cherry blossom blooms in Arlington on March 6, 2016. ( <a href="">Erinn Shirley via Flickr</a> )

It’s gone. The winter of 2015-2016, which will long be remembered for the great Snowzilla blizzard of Jan. 22-23, has departed. We no longer see a credible threat of accumulating snow and/or acute cold weather.

On to spring.

Computer models for the short, medium and long term, extending into April, unanimously forecast warmer than normal weather.

This week, highs will soar into the 70s on several days.

Models suggest that next week won’t be quite as mild, but still well above normal.

The National Weather Service’s 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks both assign high probabilities for milder than normal weather.

In each of the next 15 days, the chance of temperatures dropping below freezing never even reaches 10 percent in the immediate D.C. area, according to the group of European model simulations.

Pronouncing winter over now is “really, really safe,” says Capital Weather Gang’s long-range forecast expert Matt Rogers, though he says that models throw one curve ball 11-15 days from now. They show a big ridge of high pressure building over Alaska, which sometimes supports a flow of Arctic air into the Eastern U.S. But at the same time, these models also show “a classic El Nino split flow” which would continue transporting mild Pacific air across the country. “The El Nino flow would cut the Alaska ridge off at the knees and not allow cold air to get into U.S.,” Rogers says.

Rogers adds that this March is likely to become the second-warmest on record in the U.S. and in D.C., only trailing the historic warmth of March 2012. “This pattern is tracking March 2016 closer and closer to March 2012,” Rogers says.

Warm weather records smashed, more than 90 cities with warmest March on record

Capital Weather Gang started the tradition of calling winter over when springlike weather first takes command in 2014. Spring this year is arriving three weeks earlier than 2014 as well as 2015, when it came March 28 and March 30, respectively.

Declaring the end of winter isn’t an exact science. In 2014, two days after we announced spring had arrived, some surprise snow fell March 30.

The weather in late March and early April can be fickle, and a cold day or freak snow event can’t be ruled out. But our spring declaration, by definition, conveys the following:

* No identifiable threat of accumulating snow in long-range forecasts that could remain on the ground for 12 hours or more.
* No identifiable threat of a cold weather lasting more than 48 hours when we define cold weather as highs in the 40s (or colder) and lows below freezing in Washington, D.C. (as measured at Reagan National Airport).

Considering the D.C. region had no winter in December, which was the warmest on record, and spring is beginning so soon, true winterlike conditions only lasted about two months this year. All of D.C.’s 22.2 inches of snow fell within a span of seven weeks between Jan. 17 and March 4.

Maybe the groundhog was right after all …

Groundhog Day 2016: Punxsutawney Phil sees no shadow, predicts early spring