Thursday, February 23, 2017

Record February Heat Now Invading New England

Here's what my driveway in St. Albans, Vermont looked
like exactly a week ago today. Scroll down to see how much
has changed within a week. 
The record warmth that has bathed much of the nation this week is making its way into New England as we speak.

As the warmth melts the snow and expected rains move in over the weekend, there is a risk of flooding in parts of northern New York, Vermot and perhaps other sections of New England.

Wednesday was just a foretaste of the balmy weather. It got up to 54 degrees in Burlington, Vermont Wednesday. That wasn't a record high, but it was normal weather for April, not February.

Today, we should get even hotter than that in Vermont and other sections of the Northeast. Burlington stands a great chance of breaking its record high for the date of 56 degrees today, given that the temperature was already up to 52 degrees as of 10 a.m.

Same view of my driveway today as the snowy scene above
A lot has changed in a week, hasn't it. 
With breaks in the clouds, I wouldn't be surprised if parts of Vermont and surrounding areas flirt with the 60 degree mark today.

The all time high for any day in February in Burlington is 62 degrees, and we could conceivably reach that record today or Saturday. Iffy, but possible.

The National Weather Service in South Burlington, Vermont has issued a flood watch for northern New York and the northern two-thirds of Vermont from Friday evening through Sunday evening.

Snow cover in the valleys has already taken a beating. There was 15 inches of snow on the ground in Burlington Saturday and only four inches Wednesday.

Still, there's plenty of snow left to melt, especially in the high elevations, so there's going to be quite a bit of runoff. Additionally, the ground is largely frozen, so very little water will soak in.

There won't be all that much rain until Saturday afternoon across Vermont, but today's near record warmth, light rain on Friday and more record warmth Saturday will break up ice on rivers, leading to the risk of ice jams.

It will be slightly cooler Friday behind a weak cold front, but still much warmer than normal. Then that cold front will come back as a warm front Friday night, leading to more record warmth Saturday.

If Burlington ties or breaks its all time monthly February high this week, we'll join a growing club.

Hey, why not? Other cities in the path of this warm burst have already set February monthly records, including several cities in Wisconsin Wednesday.

Milwaukee got up to 71 degrees and Madison reached 68 degrees for new February records on Wednesday. Green Bay, Oshkosh and Appleton, Wisconsin also reached all time February records. So did Ottumwa, Iowa, where it got up to a summery 79 degrees.

Many dozens of daily record highs were set Wednesday in a broad stretch from Brownsville, Texas to Watertown, New York.  

Later Saturday and Saturday night, we'll get a burst of rain as a cold front approaches. The rapid snowmelt, combined with more than a half inch of rain will cause at least minor flooding on area rivers. Some rivers like the Winooski and Mad rivers could experience moderate flooding.

Plus, there could be some pretty serious flooding immediately upstream from any ice jams that form.

It'll turn sharply colder late Saturday night and Sunday amid some gusty northwest winds. But even then, it won't be all that cold for late February. Probably close to normal for Sunday, then back aboe normal next week.

It won't be record warm next week, but it will be pretty mild.

Sugaring season sure has gotten off to an extremely early start in Vermont. Let's hope sugar makers have already started collecting sap. If this keeps up, the season could end awfully early.

We'll have to wait and see on that one.

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