Joe Lundberg

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Racing Toward Summer

May 2, 2012; 10:10 AM ET

Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.

Some might say we're already there, given the slew of record highs we've been seeing in recent weeks, and the severe weather that stretched all the way up into Minnesota Tuesday afternoon and evening. And we are hardly done with this run of very warm weather. Yes, there have been some bouts of cold weather, even some snow a little over a week ago in the Northeast. My lilac bush is still showing some of the lingering effects of that beat down! The West has not seen much in the way of warmth, and yet another cool push is about to move through the Northwest in the next couple of days. And if you live in New England, you're probably wondering where the sun went, and if it will ever get warm again (hint: not for a while).

In the grand scheme of things, though, the warmth outweighs the chill right now, and across the southern tier of states, we seem to be racing right into summer. Just look at the dew points temperatures as of late this morning:

For the visually impaired, or if those numbers really are too small, those are mid-60s dew points all the way up into Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, and 70-degree dew points along the Gulf Coast. St. Louis will probably get to their record for the day of 91 this afternoon. and most of the southern Plains and lower to mid-Mississippi Valley will be well up into the 80s and lower 90s.

And as you might expect with such a warm and moist air mass in place so early in the year, you can count on there being strong thunderstorms around. The severe weather reports from Tuesday and Tuesday night:

This afternoon the severe weather threat is a little more limited in scope, with probably the 'best' setup in the northern Plains and Midwest:

With the warm air mass trying to expand its territory into tomorrow, while at the same time the upper levels don't really get any warmer, there is going to be a continued resistance to this surface warming. And any little impulse in the atmosphere, of which there will be several over the next few days, can help trigger thunderstorm development. As would be expected, this is most likely to occur around the edges of the warmth:

Look at the projected temperature anomalies for tomorrow, and how well these match up:

Some of this warmth will reach the mid-Atlantic Friday, with the warmest day anywhere close to the coast probably Saturday. After that, it will definitely be trimmed back, especially from the mid-Atlantic, though it may be reluctant to leave the Ohio Valley. And it certainly won't leave the South anytime soon, as no front appears likely to get within shouting distance of the Gulf Coast for at least the next seven days.

I did use the title of the post to touch on a fun event I was invited to participate in this past weekend up in Ridgway, Pa. It was their local YMCA run-bike-canoe triathlon. I was asked to be part of a four-person mixed team by a friend of mine, and do my part on the bike. I agreed, and it was a blast! Our runner was the fastest woman in the field, and 8th fastest (out of 55) overall; I didn't want to embarrass myself (other than being decked out in a lot of pink!), and managed to gain three spots before handing it off to the canoeists. Had they had the right vessel, they probably would have finished several minutes faster, and easily pushed us into the top 10 overall. Still, we won our division, and for the first time ever participating in an event like that, I was ecstatic! Next up is something called the Tour of Mon-Tour. It's a 75-mile ride with over 7,000 feet of climbing. I have no chance of winning, and hope only to finish and beat a local guy who has been bragging it up and telling me horror stories of the course. May 19 is the date. I hope it's a warm day - I love those kinds of days to ride in, as opposed to the 42-degree chill this past Saturday!

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About This Blog

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