Joe Lundberg

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From Winter to Summer, We've Got It All On Display

May 2, 2013; 9:49 AM ET

Thursday, 11:30 A.M.

Record warmth, record cold, record snows, tropical rains. All in a day's weather around the country. When I posted on Tuesday morning, it was foreshadowing the wild ride that was about to unfold around the nation in terms of all this wacky weather. It's all come to pass, and then some. Record heat in California and parts of Nevada and Arizona began it all, but since then we've seen another massive discharge of arctic air down through the Rockies and Plains states, sending temperatures plunging to record lows across Montana and Wyoming.

What's even more stunning is that this front will reach the lower Rio Grande Valley, a rare feat for this late in the year. The record in Brownsville is 50 tomorrow morning, and that's in jeopardy. The 53 Saturday morning is likely to go by the proverbial wayside. The normal high there is 86, and the typical low is 70. That's a whopping 20 below average!

Of course, we've seen snow, and plenty of it. Parts of north central Colorado wound up with more than a foot of it, and if my math is correct, Boulder has now picked up more than 60 inches of snow since the first of April! How wild is that? Amazing, utterly amazing!

They are not alone, though, as snow has fallen in parts of Kansas, Nebraska, extreme northwestern Missouri, extreme southeastern South Dakota, Iowa, Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. A few locations have seen 6-12 inches of the white stuff. And we're not done yet with the snow, though it has ended in Colorado.

What lies ahead with this storm? Not a lot of eastward movement for one thing. Look at the GFS ensemble forecast for tomorrow morning, and you can see why:

The main jet stream is way to the north, with strong upper-level ridges in place over the Northeast Pacific, stretching into British Columbia, and over eastern Ontario and Quebec. Underneath these features are several distinct upper-level low pressure areas. One is out in the Pacific east of Hawaii, a feature that will eventually find its way to California later this weekend and early next week, with the help of another feature dropping over the top of the ridge and around the Pacific Northwest. There is also the strengthening upper-level low over the southern and central Plains, with a third feature moving away from Louisiana and across the north central into the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. Yes, that's the same one that we've been keeping a wary eye on since the middle of last week for some sort of pseudo tropical development around Florida tomorrow and Saturday. That's still likely to happen, but the main impact will be some much-needed rain across the state.

And there's still another upper-level low south of Nova Scotia, a feature that will roll southwestward, then southward off the East Coast of the United States. It is this latter feature that essentially throws a road block to the eastward movement of the storm out on the Plains and west of the Mississippi Valley.

The deep snow accumulations will more or less be over with after tomorrow, but there will more snow across parts of northwest Missouri and Iowa into southeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin. The amazing thing to me about what has transpired thus far is that there really hasn't been a surface storm per se. It's more been about warm, moist air being lifted over a much colder air mass, and with the air mass getting progressively colder as this upper-level low not only pulls colder air in from the north, but also grows stronger and colder in and of itself.

Heavy rain can lead to flooding over parts of eastern Missouri, eastern Iowa, southwestern Wisconsin and Illinois through tomorrow, but as the storm reaches a more mature phase entering the weekend, the true tap of deep tropical moisture will get pinched off, so the rain amounts will get reduced. Nevertheless, it will be a wet weekend from Missouri to Indiana, and across Kentucky and the Tennessee Valley into the Carolinas as this storm inches along to the east.

I would be remiss if I did not point out how nice the weather is in my own backyard. Look at the late morning visible satellite imagery.

It really IS May, and underneath that upper-level ridge, it has gotten warm. Look at the highs from Wednesday:

It will be just as warm this afternoon, and almost the same tomorrow across Vermont and New York up into Quebec. In fact, much of this area will be warmer by day than most of the Southeast, the Deep South, the Midwest, all of the Plains AND the eastern Rockies over the next two afternoons! How wild is that? I, for one, will utter nary one complaint about it, as it is the kind of beautiful weather that has been sorely lacking this spring. I'll also try not to gloat too much over the next few days as I get out and make myself scarce. Well, maybe I'll gloat a little when I come back Monday.

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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.