JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Weather forecasters say prolonged cold temperatures over the winter could cause this year's spring storm season to get off to a late start as it takes longer for water in the Gulf of Mexico to warm up.

The Joplin Globe (http://bit.ly/1nvG46h ) reports University of Missouri professor Tony Lupo says spring is expected to be cooler than normal, followed by a mild summer with plenty of rain.

National Weather Service meteorologist John Gagan says there's also a better chance for hail with storms in the spring because mid-level temperatures in the atmosphere will still be cool.

The Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Okla., says there have been about 50 tornadoes so far this year, compared with a typical average of about 130 nationwide by now.