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‘fast-forward spring’: america’s february warmth is extreme and it’s just getting started

‘fast-forward spring’: america’s february warmth is extreme and it’s just getting started News Article With The full text news and with Resource Link at the bottom of the text and you can View this News Article in the source page.



‘fast-forward spring’: america’s february warmth is extreme and it’s just getting started


average temperature difference from normal feb. 1-feb. 13. (weatherbell.com)

you could call the groundhog’s feb. 2 declaration of six more weeks of winter fake news or alternative facts. since punxsutawney phil’s pronouncement, spring-like weather has overtaken much of the nation. and some of the month’s warmest weather with respect to normal is yet to come.

so far this month, the temperature has averaged more than five degrees above normal over the lower 48 – with the warmest temperatures with respect to normal centered over texas.

“i keep rubbing my eyes and wondering when i am going to wake up from this fast-forward spring,” writes meteorologist paul douglas for the star tribune. “weather maps continue to keep looking like march this week with hints of april this weekend. unreal.”

through feb. 13, the nation set an astonishing 1,495 high temperature records compared to just 10 for cold according to guy walton, a meteorologist who tracks such temperature extremes. that’s a “whopping” 150 to 1 ratio of records highs to record lows, walton said.

bob henson, meteorologist and blogger at weather underground, compiled a list of some of the more impressive record highs set so far. these three, in particular, are jaw-droppers:

  • magnum, okla. hit 99 degrees on feb. 11 – tying the state record for hottest winter temperature ever recorded. yet it occurred two weeks earlier than the record it matched from feb. 24, 1918, set in the town of arapaho.

high temperatures in oklahoma on feb. 11 (not july 11). (oklahoma mesonet)
  • denver, colo. hit 80 degrees on feb. 10 – its warmest february temperature on record dating back to 1872.
  • norfolk, va. hit 82 degrees on feb. 12, tying its warmest february temperature on record dating back to 1874.

henson also reported that the last time dallas, texas dropped to freezing was jan. 8. given the forecast, he said, it might not for the rest of the winter. “that would eclipse the earliest final freeze of the season (feb. 5, 2000), in records extending back to 1899,” henson wrote.

in response to the warmth, trees are leafing and flower buds are bursting much earlier than normal. the u.s.a. national phenology network tracks spring’s arrival by investigating the timing of leaf-out, flowering, and other phenomena. and it is already here over a large portion of the south.


start of spring anomaly based on index of early-leafing plants. (u.s.a. national phenology network)

“spring has arrived three weeks early in new mexico, kentucky and virginia, continuing the pattern we see across the southeast,” national phenology network website writes. “high elevation areas of california and arizona are also early.”

it’s not just the south where winter has gone missing. ice formation on the great lakes has ground to a halt given the lack of frigid air.  ice covers just 10.3 percent of the lakes compared to an average of 41.7 percent at this time of year.

no measurable snow has fallen in chicago this month, extending a snow drought that began in mid-december. “the city has not recorded 1″ or more of snow on a calendar day since dec. 17 some 60 days ago,” wgn-tv reports. with no snow in the forecast over the next week, it is likely to break the record for the longest such snow drought of 66 days set in 1921-22.

record warmth for presidents’ day weekend

late this week, warm air will surge into the central and eastern u.s. by sunday, temperatures will be more than 20 degrees above normal from denver to washington and northward.

weather.com says  minneapolis, chicago, milwaukee, cleveland, memphis and tulsa could all set record highs between friday and sunday.


high temperature forecasts friday through monday in the lower 48 from gfs model.

even beyond the holiday weekend, milder-than-normal is predicted to flood the eastern half of the country. the national weather service’s 6-10 and 8-14 day outlooks both express high chances for above normal temperatures east of the plains.


8-14 day temperature outlook from national weather service.

the lack of cold can be traced to a vigorous pacific jet stream, which has bombarded the west coast with rain and snow but drawn a mild flow of air eastward over the nation while often preventing the entry of arctic air.

long-range models hint that some colder air may try to finally barge eastward at the tail end of february or beginning of march. so maybe winter can have one final hurrah. even so, for many, this winter will be remembered as a year without a winter – for a second straight year.