A look at weather extremes and the big-picture climate connections.

Record Warm Week Ahead East of the Rockies

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The warm winter season is giving way to an even warmer early spring, with record temps spreading throughout the U.S. east of the Rocky Mountains this week. Records are likely to fall from Minneapolis to Maine and points southward starting today and lasting through at least the end of this week, possibly putting an end to the ski season in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

Here's a breakdown of the unusual warmth, which is more typical of May than March. 

Northeast
In New York City, temperatures reached 71°F on Monday, tying a record dating way back to 1890. Albany also broke a daily record that had stood since 1890 when the temperature hit 69°F. 

Boston, MA also reached 71°F, breaking the previous record for the date, which was established 110 years ago in 1902. Record highs were also broken or tied in parts of Connecticut, New Jersey, and Vermont. 

Temperature outlook for the next two weeks. Credit: NOAA/CPC.

The National Weather Service forecast office in Albany reported that "a prolonged period of unusual warmth" should last through "at least mid-March," with high temperatures in the 60s. The normal high for this time of year there is 43°F. "Spring may not officially arrive until 4:48 a.m. Tuesday, March 20. But our weather will feel springlike much of the time until then," the NWS stated on its facebook page.

In Boston, temperatures may reach 70°F again on Tuesday, which would break a record set way back in 1902. Farther south, temperatures may approach 80°F in the Mid-Atlantic states before the week is over.

Midwest

Records have already fallen in Minneapolis and Eau Claire, Wis. Minneapolis reached 63 degrees, breaking the record of 61, which was set in 1902. Eau Claire reached 62 degrees, which broke the record of 60, set in 2006. Extremely warm temperatures are going to be felt all the way to the Canadian border, from North Dakota to Michigan. High temperatures near 80 degrees are expected by midweek from the Gulf Coastal states all the way northward to South Dakota.

Meanwhile, in the Northwest and Alaska, cooler than average weather is dominating the scene, with heavy snow in the mountains. 

What's Causing This Unseasonable Warmth?

The current weather pattern features a large dome of high pressure off the eastern seaboard, similar to the summertime pattern that can result in intense heat waves. The circulation around this high is creating a southwesterly air flow from the Gulf of Mexico to the Midwest and Northeast, pumping warm air northward. This is expected to last this week, and perhaps longer than that.

The warm weather is likely to add to the imbalance between warm temperature records and cold temperature records in the U.S. this year. During the month of February, for example, the number of daily warm record-low temperatures outpaced cold records by a stunning ratio of 6 to 1 in the Lower 48.

So far this month, there have already been 805 record-high temperatures in the U.S., and just 176 record-cold high temperatures.

In a long-term trend that has been linked to global climate change, daily record-high temperatures are now outpacing daily record-lows records by an average of 2 to 1, and this imbalance is expected to grow as temperatures continue to warm. According to a 2009 study, if the climate were not warming, this ratio would be expected to be even.

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Comments

By Jon Flatley (Dauphin, PA 17018)
on March 12th, 2012

Another sign of warming temperatures…the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg used to jam and freeze over with ice every winter and now it is about half the time.  This is from my records since the Winter of 1980-81.  Just another sign.

See:

http://www.surviveclimatechange.com/river-ice.html

Reply to this comment

By Adam Johnston (Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada)
on March 12th, 2012

Try Winnipeg Manitoba Canada, which is suppose to get near 20C sometime this week. Also, pending on which weather outlet you ask it may thunderstorm…. in March in Winnipeg… Something is weird going on here

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