Widespread February Warmth Will Return East of the Rockies

Despite a recent trend to colder temperatures and back to back blizzards in New England, this winter has been a mild one for most areas east of the Rockies. Surges of cold air have been sporadic and temperatures have been above to much above average for many locations. Moving on to next week it appears that much of the nation, east of the Rockies, will enjoy mild to warm February temperatures.

Here is what we are expecting :

  • Most of the U.S., east of the Rockies, will encounter above average temperatures.
  • Parts of the Plains and Midwest will see temperatures a whopping 25 to 30 degrees above average.
  • Daily high temperature records will be widespread.
  • Much of the South will see temperatures 10 to 15 degrees above average.
  • Milder temperatures will replace a recent cold spell across much of the Northeast.

Forecast temperatures compared to average across the U.S. valid at 12:00 p.m. CST February 21, 2017 indicated by the GFS. Map Credit : Pivotal weather

Northeast

Despite colder temperatures in February, most locations across the region have recorded temperatures at least a bit above average since meteorological winter began on December 1st.

By early next week, temperatures will reach the 50s from western New York and Pennsylvania, southeastward through the Middle Atlantic region. Highs in the 40s will prevail elsewhere but cooler in northern New England). As a result, there will be significant snowmelt.

Ice on ponds and lakes can be fragile so use extra caution if you are walking or operating a vehicle on ice.

South

The South has experienced a mild winter with temperatures exceeding 6 degrees above average in locations like Atlanta or Dallas-Ft. Worth. Temperatures will be mainly in the 70s across most of the region by early next week.

Midwest

Temperatures will be more like late March and early April across most of the region. Many daily record highs are possible. Look for highs ranging from the upper 40s in northern sections of the region to the low 60s across southern sections by early next week.

Plains

Temperatures will be greater than 20 degrees above average in the northern Plains and 10-15 degrees above average in the southern Plains. As a result, highs in the upper 40s to the 50s across the Dakotas will prevail. The southern Plains have encountered frequent warm spells this winter and parts of southwest Oklahoma recorded temperatures near 100 degrees just a few days ago. Temperatures will not be that hot this time but they will be well above above seasonal averages.

 

Mild to warm air will prevail across much of the U.S. next week as the jet stream bulges northward. (GFS Model) valid Tuesday 2/21/17. Map credit: Pivotal weather

Setup for February warmth

The polar vortex, has been more prevalent on the other side of the globe this winter and it has extended down into Eurasia. This is the part of the world that has seen the coldest temperatures this winter.

Except for one significant push of Arctic air into the U.S. in early January, the coldest air has been bottled up in northern Canada, along with the northern branch of the polar jet stream.

Parts of the Northeast have seen a few bouts of colder air in February, but frequent periods of mild temperatures have been the theme of this winter across most of the nation, east of the Rockies.

The southern branch of the polar jet stream has prevailed across much of the nation this winter, with the northern branch well up in Canada. In this case, many of the air masses that have moved into the U.S. have come from the North Pacific Ocean rather than from the frigid, ice covered regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

As we move into next week, we will see a trough (dip in the jet stream) off the west coast of the U.S.. A widespread ridge (bulge in the jet stream) will prevail across much of the eastern two thirds of the nation.

Under a ridge, the air sinks and warms, so temperatures will be on the warm side. An area of low pressure aloft will keep temperatures in southern Texas closer to seasonal averages due to more cloudiness and some precipitation.

Keep in mind that the average temperature keeps moving upward every day as we head toward March. This makes it unlikely that the U.S. will be invaded by any extremely cold air masses for the remainder of the winter season.

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