Sunday, February 28, 2016

More Mid-American Heat To Close The Winter That Wasn't

In many parts of the country the winter of 2015-16 will
be among the warmest on record. (click
on the map to make it bigger and easier to read.)   n
Seems like every time I've turned around over the past few months, more high temperature records have been set.

So it was Saturday, when more incredible winter warmth hit parts of the middle of the country. The most impressive heat was in the northern Plains, where temperatures of well below zero are normally routine for this time of year.

Bismarck, North Dakota reached a wild 73 degrees, which -- surprise! -- is the warmest temperature on record there for any date in February. Mobridge, South Dakota also hit an all time February high of 73 degrees.

Sioux City, Iowa was also 73 degrees, which is only the second warmest February day on record. I hope all my relatives in Yankton, South Dakota also enjoyed the winter heat. It was also 73 degrees there, too.

St. Cloud, Minnesota "only" reached 58 degrees, but that was warm enough there to also be the hottest temperature recorded in the month of February there.

Dozens of cities in the Plains and Midwest had record heat this weekend.

Today, the warmth is shifting eastward a bit. Chicago could well see a record high in the low 60s today.

The warmth is being shunted south by a cold front, so there won't be record heat there. That's especially true in New England and northern New York, which will stay locked in seasonably cold air for at least a week, if not more.

But people in the interior Northeast should not feel too left out with the lingering winter chill over them now. This will be easily the warmest winter on record in many cities there, including Albany, New York and Burlington, Vermont.

The warmth this winter has indeed been widespread across the nation this winter.

Over the past 30 days, the National Climate Data Center says 3,072 daily record highs have been reported at weather stations across the United States. In that same period, only 327 record lows were set.

That's pretty lopsided.

The warmth hasn't been limited to the Lower 48. According to the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Alaska has had at least its third warmest winter on record.

In Anchorage, 49 out of 50 consecutive days in January and February were warmer than normal. Many areas of Alaska have had far below snowfall and snow cover.

That's a danger. Because this makes it more likely that whatever snow is there will disappear early, giving more time for grasslands and forests to dry out, which, in turn raises the spectre of a bad summer fire season.

Who knows what the spring will bring, but for what it's worth, I have seen several long range forecasts call for warmer than normal weather across at least the northern half of the nation during March.

We'll see if that works out.

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