Cold weather to pause as warmup looms in wake of polar vortex
In a blink of an eye, the cold air that was in place for millions, especially in the Northeast and Midwest, is quickly departing. It’s leaving behind temperatures that resemble anything but the heart of winter.
The FOX Forecast Center said a building ridge of high pressure is expected to lead to temperatures 10 to 30 degrees above average for many communities east of the Rockies for several days.
A polar vortex helped temperatures reach record-low levels to start the weekend with a windchill value of -108 °F in Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and -45 °F in Portland, Maine.
Forecast models show Portland could reach the 40s as soon as Monday, and major cities along the I-95 corridor could see the warmth before then.
The FOX Forecast Center said the trend will translate into high temperatures in the 60s and 70s across most of the country’s southern tier, with even sporadic 80-degree readings possible.
“East of the Mississippi River, it’s very likely going to be warmer, and if you’re west of the Rockies, it’ll most likely be cooler because it’s the wet season activity. Then that trade continues into the latter half of the month as well. So, February is trending to be warm,” FOX Weather meteorologist Steve Bender said.
The warm temperatures will also mean another week with little to no significant snow expected east of the Mississippi River. Places such as the Ohio Valley and I-95 corridor will continue their snowfall deficit as the end of meteorological winter quickly approaches.
The warmer air will also help limit ice expansion over the Great Lakes, which has been running below average. Analysis performed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that combined ice coverage from the five lakes was only around 15 percent – a figure that is closer to record lows than record highs.
Historical data showed around February 3, a combined 34% of the surfaces of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie 22, and Ontario were covered in ice.
In the South, it is not ice coverage being tracked but the production of leaves and pollen.
Experts with the USA National Phenology Network reported the spring growth process reached two to three weeks ahead of normal in some communities in Texas and as far north as North Carolina.
Early blooms could lead to an extended pollen season that medical experts warn has been an increasing trend, especially in the Southeast.
NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center expects the trend for above-average temperatures in the Eastern US to continue through mid-February.
Similar to the start of the year, the chances for storminess across the West are expected to remain above average, leading to increased rain chances and cooler temperatures.