Joe Lundberg

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Record Warmth Not Yet Done

March 21, 2012; 9:52 AM ET

Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.

Just when you thought it couldn't get any warmer, it did yesterday. I highlighted Traverse City, Mich., in Tuesday's post with their new all-time record for March of 83 on Monday. Well, they did that three better Tuesday by reaching 86. Nearby Marquette destroyed their old record for the date of 56 by tying their all-time March record of 78, which they had set Monday and tied Tuesday. Not to be outdone, Caribou, Maine, chimed in by besting their old record of 50 for March 20 by a whopping 23 degrees!

And we're not done. As the marine layer gets nudged off the New England coast, record highs are likely there this afternoon and especially tomorrow. 850mb temperatures are forecast at +12C or better. If you do the simple math, that would translate to the low 80s in Boston, maybe even Portland. In fact, if you employ the old 'Norm MacDonald' rule, the late, great forecaster from New England and MIT who once upon a time walked the halls of AccuWeather, then 86 might be reachable. That rule is to take the Mount Washington temperature and add 40 degrees to it. The trick to that rule is that there has to be more than 1 mb pressure difference between Portland and Boston (Boston being higher, of course) to overcome the sea breeze. Right now, that's at 0.5mb, so it might not work today. Tomorrow is likely to be a different storm. The current temperature on Mount Washington is 46. How often do you see that in March?

If you look at these record highs, they're beating the average highs for a typical July day in most places from the Midwest to interior New England. Now this isn't going to be the same as April of 1976, when it soared into the 90s across parts of the Northeast, the warmest readings for the entire spring and summer that year! Certainly it will go higher than these levels in the next months, but I guarantee you the anomalies will never be larger. Let's put it this way. If we DID have those kind of anomalies in the middle of summer, we'd be looking at 110- to 120-degree heat - or worse. That just won't be happening! And if for some obscene reason it were to take place, then I'd quickly switch to the global warming point of view.

After Friday, the heat will get chopped up across the Northeast and mid-Atlantic back into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley. It will be trimmed in the Midwest tomorrow and Friday. Indeed, it will come down Friday in northern and eastern New England in the wake of a backdoor cold front.

But even then, we're not done yet with the heat. If you look at the pattern evolving this weekend over the West and Plains, here comes another full-latitude, upper-level ridge. Look at the GFS 500mb forecast for Sunday:

And look at the corresponding temperature anomalies for Sunday:

That next surge of heat is likely to send more records down to defeat later this weekend and early next week, first over the northern and eastern Rockies onto the western Plains, then farther downstream Sunday and Monday. The warmth will surge into the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday and into the mid-Atlantic and New England on Wednesday. It will be short-lived this time around, but even then, there may be another surge of warmth farther west late next week into the following weekend.

Now here's a little tidbit for you conspiracy theorists to chew on. Look at some of the years these records were from that are being wiped out. 1938. That was the year of the '38 hurricane (how appropriate!) that roared through New England. I'm not saying you should bet on a hurricane in New England late this summer or fall. What I am saying is that sometimes these types of correlations do occur. Let's hope this time around it doesn't repeat itself.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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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.