The amount of record highs that have fallen in the past week is astounding. Superlatives really do not do justice to the vast extent of this pre-summer heat wave, if you will. Some of the more amazing numbers are coming out of the traditional nations' 'icebox', otherwise known as International Falls, Minn. The average high and low temperatures there for the first day of spring are 37 and 15, respectively. Those numbers have been trampled so much as to render them unrecognizable! After a 'chilly' early morning low last Friday of 27, it soared to a high of 71 that afternoon. The low Friday night was only 52, then it surged to 77 Saturday afternoon. Since then, it has not dropped below 50. In fact, the low last night was 60! And in between, it has reached 79 Sunday, and 78 Monday. Those are just unheard of numbers, which should give you an idea of just how extraordinary this extreme warmth has been.
That could well be the extreme end of it, but there are so many other sites that rival those kind of temperature departures. And of course, there are the records. Traverse City, Mich., set a new all-time March record at 83 yesterday, beating the old record of 82 - set the day before! Records were set all the way to New England, and we have at least four more days of this kind of insanity before the warmth finally gets squeezed on both sides. More on that later.
Meanwhile, the weather has been wild elsewhere. Snow in Arizona. Well over a foot of the white stuff in Flagstaff. Strong winds in Colorado late Sunday and Sunday night to near hurricane force. And severe thunderstorms in the past 24 hours from Texas up into the central Plains:
Even a few isolated severe weather cells in Iowa and Minnesota! In mid-March? Wow.
Today, the risk is over southeast Texas and Louisiana as the upper-level low slowly rolls across North Texas:
As this low ambles along, it will pull a lot of moist air from over the Gulf of Mexico and throw inland across East Texas and Louisiana, and wrap it around this feature. The result will be more flooding downpours from East Texas and Louisiana into Arkansas and Missouri over the next 24 hours or so, to the tune of 2-4 inches of rain for many. That much and more has already fallen from west of Houston as I write this back to the I-35 corridor and beyond. The problem is the slow movement of the upper level low, as it's basically detached from the main flow of the jet stream. It's not stalled, but the next best thing to it.
Even by Friday, this upper-level low is still only crossing the mid-Mississippi Valley:
Fortunately, by Friday this feature will have weakened to the point where severe weather is not as high of a risk, nor will flash flooding be as large of a worry. Still, it promises to make for a soggy two-day stretch wherever it rambles, and that means the Ohio and Tennessee valleys Friday into Saturday, and the Appalachians to the East Coast Friday night and Saturday into at least a part of Sunday.
On the heels of this intense feature will be another one crashing into the West Friday night and Saturday. That upper-level trough won't dig as far south as the current one did, so it will come inland through California, then move across the Rockies. That means another surge of warmth will be pushed out ahead of it this weekend over the eastern Rockies, then sent across the Plains and Mississippi Valley Sunday and Monday, reaching the East Tuesday. It may not be as warm as the current run of warmth is, and it certainly won't last nearly as long, but it will extend the overall very balmy pattern a few more days.
Once we get past that upper-level trough and its attendant cold front, there will be more of a squeeze on the warmth as we wrap up the month and get ready to head into April.
The storm that will bring snow across the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes to parts of the mid-Atlantic and much of New England will have several pieces to it, each one having an impact on who gets rain versus a mix of rain and snow, versus all snow, and how much snow is likely to fall.
Cold and dry weather is the rule across the country right now, but the respite from stormy weather will be brief. A new storm taking shape Friday in the Mississippi Valley will spread more rain, ice and snow over the eastern half of the country going into the weekend.
In the wake of the feature bringing snow through the mid-Atlantic and southern New England today, there will be a nice little period of cold and quiet weather for most of the country until the next storm begins to take shape over the southern Plains and Mississippi Valley late Friday into Friday night.
Winter doesn't officially begin until Dec. 21, but there's plenty of evidence of winter already fully in force around the country. The rest of fall will largely be cold in much of the nation before it tries to moderate later next week.
One fast-moving storm will dump snow, ice and rain over a wide area from Arkansas to southern New England this afternoon and tonight. Another will follow for later in the weekend.
Two separate features will zip across the eastern half of the country by the start of the weekend, generating rain, thunderstorms, ice and snow before it quickly dries out to start the weekend.