Thursday, 11:05 a.m.
Meteorological winter ends today, meaning the beginning of meteorological spring is tomorrow. It's the more convenient way of doing the bookkeeping for seasonal stats - all of March, April and May, rather than using March 20 to June 20. And even though there are at least two more big storms looming over the horizon during the first two weeks of March, and a fair amount of chilly weather through the first week to 10 days of the month, some signs of spring are starting to show.
Naturally, you could point to Florida and Arizona, site of the Grapefruit and Cactus League games that are being played on a daily basis now by Major League baseball teams, but of late, it has been chilly in Arizona. Temperatures for the month are running 2.5 degrees below normal in Phoenix, and more than 8 below normal in the past 8 days alone. We saw snow in the high deserts of southern Arizona just a week ago, and Tucson is running more than 4 below normal for the month.
And in Florida, while the month as a whole is warmer than normal by 1-3 degrees, there have been two sharp blasts of cold air, one at the start of the month and another roughly between Feb. 14 and 20. Furthermore, this weekend going into March will be anything BUT warm in Florida, with temperatures Friday through Sunday likely to average more than 10 below normal in much of the state.
So where is there some spring right now? Of all places, what about the Northwest? Look at the pattern unfolding over the next few days. Here's the latest 500mb forecast for tomorrow afternoon:
This will promote sunshine and much milder weather tomorrow throughout Oregon and into Washington, with highs tomorrow reaching the 50s in many places, if not into the 60s in parts of Oregon. It may not be quite that mild on Saturday, as clouds will be increasing ahead of another cold front, but it will easily be above normal. I've even seen from an acquaintance in Victoria, British Columbia, crocuses and daffodils in full bloom! It can't be far away.
As the weekend progresses and that same upper-level ridge peaks and migrates inland, some of that warmth will slide into the Rockies and allow temperatures to rise into the 50s or better. Look at the projected 850mb temperatures Sunday afternoon:
While the current snowcover is, indeed, quite expansive across the country, there are many places from Montana into South Dakota that are lacking snow:
In those areas, especially over western South Dakota, as well as in northern and western sections of Nebraska where there is very little snowcover, temperatures could easily go past 60 with any appreciable sunshine and wind.
The Southwest will also be warm through the weekend, with many places from interior southern California into southern Arizona reaching 80 degrees on a couple of days through Sunday. As a storm comes out of the northern Rockies out into Nebraska Sunday night and Monday, it will pull some of that 80-degree warmth into central and southern Texas.
Unfortunately, little of that warmth gets much farther east. That same storm will head east-southeastward Monday into Wednesday as it winds up along the East Coast, and it will prevent the warmth from getting very far north. Indeed, there will be somewhat of a push back of chilly air behind the storm, starting in the southern Plains Tuesday and into the lower Mississippi Valley and interior South on Wednesday, with the rest of the Southeast later Wednesday and Wednesday night into Thursday. Farther north, the cold eases, but it's hard for me to make a case of it looking more like spring just yet.
The jet stream should flatten out for a time late next week, and that could lead to more widespread warming from the Plains into the East. We'll have to erase the snowcover first to make that warmup more effective and reach its full potential, but that will inevitably happen. However, with these two storms lining up for the early and middle part of next week, then next weekend, there could be more heavy snow north of the track of those storms. And where it rains over the snowpack, the worry over snow melt flooding will grow. And with those storms, there is also the worry over severe weather, especially with the second of those two storms. That's all a sure sign of spring in my book.
Spring IS coming. There will be some give and take with winter in the coming weeks, but the inexorable march of the seasons will not be denied in the end.
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.