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Surge of Southwestern Heat, Flurries in the Southeast?

28 Feb 2013, 3:43 pm

We have two drastically different air masses in place to start off the month of March. The Southeast remains in winter’s icy grip with below-average temperatures and frozen precipitation, while a large ridge of high pressure builds in the Southwest, pushing daytime highs into record-breaking territory.

Temperatures in the southern portions of California and Arizona will be climbing into the upper 70s and low 80s for today (Thursday), and push even higher by Friday afternoon — a great start for the weekend!

To give you an idea of how unseasonably warm these temperatures are: Los Angeles should hit the mid-80’s for high temperatures by Friday, and their record high temperature for Friday is 84 degrees, set back in 1967. They should be down in the mid-60’s for high temps this time of year! Here’s our national departure from average for today and tomorrow:

For the rest of the nation, a deep upper-level trough digs into the southern states and draws in the cold air. Atlanta sits at 12 degrees cooler-than-average with a chance for a wintry mix into Saturday — they have even issued Freeze Warnings for much of Georgia in anticipation of extremely cold overnight lows! Here’s a photo of the wintry weather in Tennessee earlier Thursday morning, via our WeatherNation Facebook page:

This sharply divided set-up will stay in place throughout the weekend and into early next week. Moisture coming in from the Pacific has no choice but to track northward around the ridge of warmth, bringing rain and dense, wet snow to the Cascades and Olympics in Washington heading into the weekend.

Those rain showers have triggered avalanche warnings for the back country terrain into central Washington state and along the Olympic coast for the remainder of Thursday. No travel is advised through those regions.

Cold air continues to dig southward in the Great Lakes and Midwest, and will eventually push into the Deep South. That northerly flow will remain in place throughout the next few days. Here’s the set-up for Saturday:

Finally, Sunday brings a chance for another low pressure system to come ashore and track inland. Snow is likely early next week for the Upper Midwest as the storm scoots along the northern edge of this ridge.

All in all, the first part of March looks cool in the east, warm in the west. Here’s the official outlook from the Climate Prediction Center:

If you snap a few photos of the sleet in the Southeast or the great beach weather in the Southwest, send them our way! Email directly to or find us on Facebook, Twitter, etc. We love telling the weather from YOUR perspective.

Have a great rest of your Thursday, and a fantastic weekend! -Meteorologist Miranda Hilgers


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