Many people were impacted by a snowstorm in the northeast this past week, and other people in the northeast will receive another foot of snow in the next 48 hours. This is the time of year people are anxiously waiting for a break from winter, and there is good news for those people who want a little warm up. The climate outlook shows above average temperatures (right) likely throughout almost all of the lower 48 in the next 6-10 days. The 6-10 day precipitation forecast (left) looks like above average precipitation along and west of the Mississippi River and along the Gulf coast, but especially possible in the southwest, with below average precipitation likely east of there.
Why will we see such a mild spell in the middle of February? We look to the west to get an idea of what will happen for our weather, and out in the Pacific Ocean south and west of Alaska at 500 mb a trough is observed digging south. This will force a ridge to build just downstream, which will be over the lower 48. This ridge can be observed in the image bellow showing a forecast from the 12z GFS model for Friday. A ridge at 500 mb means that warm air advection will occur, bringing above average temperatures. Unfortunately this ridge won’t last forever, and will start to break down as the trough over the Pacific approaches. This trough will help bring wet weather to the western half of the US in the next 6-10 days (hence why they are likely to see above average rainfall during this period).
How warm will we get? The image bellow is also from the 12z GFS, showing the forecasted temperature anomaly at 2 meters (where the surface air temperature is measured) on Saturday afternoon. It shows most locations in the central US will see temperatures at least 5-10 degrees above normal for this time year, with some locations getting as much as 20 degrees above normal! The Great Lakes region looks to be in the 40s approaching 50 degrees and the Plains 60s and 70s by Saturday.
This doesn’t mean that the warm weather is here to stay, certainty winter will likely have at least one or two more rounds before spring is truly here, but forecasting beyond 10 days is extremely challenging, so it’s difficult to tell when that’ll happen as of right now. Until then go out and enjoy the break from the cold while it lasts!
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