Sunday, February 19, 2017

February Is April This Year In Most Of The United States

Flowers bloom already in Falls Church, Va. Saturday.
It's been an incredibly warm February in most of the nation, as record high temperatures keep falling in a landslide.

It's hard to keep track of all the record highs that are being broken, and will continue to be broken over the next several days.

I'll only touch on some of this incredible warmth here because there's so many examples to choose from.

Saturday afternoon, the only part of the nation that was below freezing was the extreme northern tip of Maine, and maybe a few high elevations in the Rocky Mountains.

That's incredible for mid-February, when large sections of the northern half of the nation are typically below freezing all day this time of year.

Record highs Saturday included a springlike 70 degrees in normally blustery Chicago, That's only the fourth time since the late 1800s it has been 70 in Chicago during February.

Other record highs Saturday included 69 in Detroit and Cleveland, and 67 in Milwaukee and Toledo, Ohio. Even way up in the wintry Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it was a record 54 degrees in Marquette Saturday.

It was in the 70s Friday as far north as Rapid City, South Dakota.

Based on forecasts, Yankton, South Dakota, usually not the balmiest place in the world during February, will have had a full seven consecutive days with temperatures in the 60s to around 70 by Wednesday.

Last weekend, there was even greater extremes. It got to as hot as an unprecedented 99 degrees in Oklahoma.

Also last Saturday, Midland and Lubbock, Texas had their all time hottest February day on record. On February 10, Denver reached 80 degrees. That broke the record for the earliest 80 degrees there and was earlier than the previous record by a full month.

So far this year. through February 16  there have been 4,460 daily record highs at weather stations in the United States but only 1,085 record lows. Normally, those two numbers would be more or less even.

Even here in New England, which has had plenty of snow and winter storms this month, it's still mild. Burlington, Vermont got up to 49 degrees Saturday, despite more than a foot of snow on the ground that was refrigerating the air.

Despite it being the seventh snowiest February on record, temperatures for the month will end up well above normal.

Much of northern New England's deep snow cover will dissolve over the course of the next week as more thawing is likely.

As for other areas in the nation, expect plenty more record highs in the upcoming week.  It's going to be in the upper 50s for the next four days in Minneapolis, and in the 70s across a broad swath of the nation from South Dakota to Virginia.

The only other February I can think of that is remotely like this hot one was in 1981, when thousands of record highs were set coast to coast.

I'm sure millions of people are enjoying this warm weather, but there's a downside. I work for a company called Gardener's Supply, which offers gardening equipment for customers across the United States.

I'm getting many reports from customers in manh areas from Texas to New Jersey of flowers, fruit trees and leaves blooming weeks earlier than they normally would.

Inevitably, we'll get a wave of seasonable weather, or even colder than normal weather. Big sections of the country are in for lots of crop damage to fruit trees, not to mention the frustration of homeowers whose gardens will be damaged by this state of affairs.

This variable spring weather seems to have been getting more common -- Record high early season temperatures followed by killing frosts. There was widespread crop and garden damage in 2012 and 2016 across the Midwest, Northeast and South because of this type of weather pattern.

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