Thursday, 11:30 A.M.
By the time I send this off to the editors for some final checks, they'll be getting ready to tip the second round of the tournament off. The next four days will be pure madness, with undoubtedly some upsets and buzzer beaters to keep everyone's excitement through the weekend. I am actually going to sit back and watch a few snippets of games here and there, as my work schedule won't allow me to sit down for any great length of time to enjoy it. That plus the fact that in my downtime, I'd just as soon be doing something active as I get closer and closer to some of my own madness in terms of training for a half marathon (that I've never remotely thought about before) and training for 12-hour and potential 24-hour cycling challenges in the next three months.
What's maddening to me, and for a high percentage of people I'm sure, is the lingering cold in the weather pattern. Oh, to be certain, there are some who are reveling in the extended winter through March and into early April. I know of a few who are absolutely loving the extra snow and cold. Don't count me among them!
To give you an idea of what we're up against, look at the latest GFS ensemble forecasts of seven-day means for next week - March 25 through March 31, Easter Sunday:
That's a huge area encompassing most of the South and mid-Atlantic back into the mid-Mississippi Valley averaging about 10 degrees below normal for the entire week! And that's just the temperature end of things. Speaking of which, Fort Wayne, Ind., dropped to a new record low of 11 for the date this morning, while Paducah, Ky., slipped to a new record minimum of 19 this morning. Grand Forks, N.D., shattered their previous record low of -7 by a whopping 6 degrees this morning as they reached 13 below zero! Their normal low this morning? 18 degrees. Here's a sampling of those early morning minimums:
I'm pretty confident there will be more record lows in the coming days as another arctic air mass is released on the Rockies this weekend, and follows behind a storm out onto the Plains Sunday. It will reach the Southeast Monday then hold court few several days before the cold can slowly ease up heading toward Easter.
Then, of course, there is the prospect of snow. And there are several viable candidates for that through the beginning of next week. Despite the warmth in Texas, there's a wall to their north that will be run over by a relatively weak upper-level disturbance this afternoon and tonight, and that will lead to some snow in southern Missouri. That snow will spread into northern Alabama overnight:
While that little feature darts southeastward, another will chase it through the Northwest into the Rockies. There's enough cold air around to bring snow levels down very low over Washington and northeastern Oregon into Idaho:
More on that feature in a moment. Meanwhile, on the other side of the country, the deep upper-level low rolling through the Northeast will help generate flurries and heavier snow showers around the Great Lakes and into the northern Appalachians. And, in addition to that, there will be some snow from a weak offshore storm bypassing southeastern New England:
And this is just over the next 24 hours or so! There's much more to come.
That system rolling through the Northwest will reorganize over the central Plains tomorrow night and Saturday, dragging some very cold air southward with it. The result will be more widespread snow starting tomorrow night in Colorado then spreading across parts of Nebraska and Kansas Saturday. Here's a weekend snapshot:
How much snow? It's too early to be certain, but probably 6 inches or more from in or near Denver out into northern Kansas, with some places probably closer to 10 or 12 inches. And that'll just be the start of the storm, as it will then roll eastward later this weekend and likely bring snow close to Chicago, if not into the city, then over toward Pittsburgh, and perhaps New York and Philadelphia.
Now, as was the case with the last storm, despite the presence of arctic air and a storm likely to track south of the big mid-Atlantic cities, snow will be hard to come by along the I-95 corridor. It's really late in the season, the normals are in the 50s, and if you can get the wind to blow in off the Atlantic long enough and hard enough, it either won't snow in those cities or not hard enough to amount to much. Farther north and west, there's a far greater concern for accumulating snow, again, depending upon the exact track of the storm and precipitation intensity.
That latter point may be governed by whether or not this ends up being one storm, or two pieces to the storm. If the latter is the case, the storm is likely to stay farther south, and that would split the energy and diminish the precipitation intensity in general. We'll know more on that tomorrow and over the weekend.
The bottom line is this: for most of us with a severe and growing case of spring fever, this seemingly endless pattern of cold and storminess is contributing directly to a meteorological form of March Madness. The best cure I can think of would be a week of nothing but sunshine and temperatures at least in the 50s, but preferably the 60s and above. Soon. In due time, it's coming. Just not this week or next week.
Heavy rain will soak drought-stricken areas of the mid-Atlantic over the next couple of days. Focus will then shift to Matthew and its potential to impact the Eastern Seaboard with more heavy rain later next week.
Summer has ended astronomically, but from a meteorological standpoint, there's plenty more warm weather heading into October from the Plains to the East.
Two strong cold fronts will charge across the country in the next week, eventually taking out the current hot and humid air mass from the Plains to the East Coast.
Over the next three days, hot and humid air will expand across the Mississippi Valley all the way to the East Coast. This will be followed by even more heat and humidity leading into the weekend.
Hermine will head across the Florida Panhandle late tonight, then cut across the coastal Carolinas and become a headache for the mid-Atlantic and southern New England over the Labor Day weekend. It will be followed by a heat wave later next week.
The heat and humidity will be erased from much of the East later this week, but warmth will spread from the Plains eastward over the weekend. The tropics could still play an important role in the weather along the Eastern Seaboard this weekend.