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Cool Fades to Warmth on the Plains Next Week, but It Never Reaches the Northeast

May 16, 2014; 11:15 AM ET

Friday, 11:55 a.m.

Drenching rains have inundated portions of the East in the past 24 hours, and this band of tropical rain isn't finished yet. As of late morning, it essentially stretched from near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, all the way up through eastern New York state and into parts of Quebec. And if you look at the satellite images, you can see why the rain is coming down so hard:

The moisture is being pulled right out of the Caribbean and through the southwest Atlantic, tying itself directly to the cold front itself. On the eastern side of the rain band, it feels tropical with temperatures close to 70, and dew points of 60 and higher. In contrast, temperatures are in the 50s where it is raining immediately behind the front.

This cool air is what is left of the cold air mass that is still solidly in place from the Plains to the Appalachians. How cold? Cold enough to see snow in the western suburbs of Chicago this morning for a few hours. That's all changed back to rain, now, but it is a cold rain right out of the dead of winter with temperatures hovering in the 30s and low 40s. Cold enough for records to be beaten up and down the Plains, from the Dakotas all the way to the Rio Grande. The 54-degree reading there tied the record for the day and was an astounding 18 below normal! These areas will again be chilly tomorrow, though the western Plains and eastern Rockies will start to warm up some tomorrow. Here are the projected departures from normal on Saturday:

As this cold front inches northeastward this afternoon and tonight then crosses New England tomorrow, the heavy rain band will accompany it, though the departures from normal tomorrow, as you can clearly see, will still be near normal over eastern New England, and it really isn't much cooler on Sunday in those areas, if at all! That said, areas from western New England and the interior mid-Atlantic will be cool, and in fact, the much below-normal chill holds on from the central and southern Plains to the Appalachians on Sunday:

Meanwhile, record have been shattered most of the week in the West, with another slew of record highs being set yesterday in California. The heat will continue there this afternoon into tomorrow, but it will be leaving the Northwest. An upper-level low off the Washington coast will roll south and southeast over the next couple of days, generating a lot of clouds and some scattered showers and thunderstorms. Temperatures will cool a bit below normal tomorrow and Sunday and will hold there into Monday as the upper-level low rolls southward across western Oregon. Showers may survive into northern California. Note what this does to the position of the upper-level ridge that had been in place this week over the West:

As this ridge noses downstream, it will bring warmth with it. Through tomorrow, it will be tough to get the warmth out of the eastern Rockies, as the ridge axis will be too far west, and the northwest flow aloft over the eastern Rockies will ignite widely separated showers and thundershowers over the central and northern Rockies and even out onto the western Plains. By Sunday, though, temperatures will jump over the eastern Rockies and western Plains, fanning out on Monday across the Plains.

You might normally expect this warmth to then just march downstream all the way to the East Coast. Instead, another upper-level trough of low pressure will come over the top of this ridge and head across the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, then into the mid-Atlantic and New England, cutting that warmth off at the pass heading into the Memorial Day weekend.

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Joe Lundberg
Joe Lundberg, a veteran forecaster and meteorologist, covers both short and long-term U.S. weather on this blog.