An Arctic Blast and Winter Warm-Up?
The calendar says we are in the month of February, and should be experiencing cold temps across the country. But that wasn’t the case through the month so far for most locations. The Northeast dealt with temps 5-10° below average through the month so far, while portions of the Southeast were down about 3° on average. But while the eastern half of the country saw a general cool trend, the western half of the country was the complete opposite! From the Central Plains to the West Coast, temps were on average, 2-12° warmer.
As we go through the rest of the work week, into the weekend, and beyond, there will be a big drop in temperatures across the eastern half of the country. Look back at that graphic from Weatherbell.com, and see the colors in green and purple? That is the below average air that will be coming down, and then some, to the eastern half of the country. If you live in the western half, you’ll be in luck, for you’ll be seeing generally, above average temps.
The daytime high temps on Wednesday were milder to the west and south, but colder to the Northern Plains and into the Northeast.
As we look back over the past 24 hours, we can see where the changes in the temperature have been. The mid-section of the nation cooled down, especially in the New Mexico / Texas area, while much of the eastern & western third saw a warm up this afternoon.
As we go into the end of the work week, the jet stream, the river of air aloft that circles the planet, begins to dip down towards the Gulf Coast which will open the door for COLD air to come down that way, all the way to northern Florida. On the other side of things; what goes up, must also come down, and the western half of the country sees a warm up on the way as a ridge of high pressure builds up over there, all the way up into southwest Canada.
That door opens, and allows the arctic air to sink southward. You can see where it is coming from in the TEMP FORECAST graphic. The Red Line is the freezing line of 32° and come Friday morning, temps will trend below freezing for more than half of the country, with even Northern Florida seeing the chill.
As the jet stream dips down, one area of high pressure after another comes down, just bringing another reinforcing shot of arctic air. As the high pressure makes it way down the continental US, the air will moderate somewhat, so the southeast won’t feel the bitterly cold air that the Great Lakes and Northeast will get, but nonetheless, they will still see colder than average temps.
Over the course of the next one to two weeks, we’ll see the eastern half of the nation experience the below average temps, with the Rocky Mountains being the dividing line between the cold and warm air. If you live in the Ohio River Valley or Northeast, get ready to see some bitterly cold air!
For several eastern cities, we can see when that arctic air takes over. It’ll be roughly the weekend, with the harshest day to come on Sunday. Detroit starts the day sub-zero and only goes a few degrees above zero for a daytime high. Atlanta has high temps down roughly 20° for Sunday afternoon and NYC’s Monday morning commuters will deal with temps in the single digits!
Out across the west, we’ll see temps running either at or above average. Denver will be rather warm as we go into the weekend, but eventually the cold air will start to slip into the Colorado Front Range. For Seattle, they will see temps trend above average, into the 50s, for the next several days. And in San Francisco, the average high is 59° and we could see temps nearly 10° warmer for the next few days, with temps slowly drifting back to seasonal levels by early next week.
Meteorologist Addison Green