Start of spring to usher in milder pattern for central, eastern US
Temperatures will trend back above the historical average following a brutally cold end to the winter season, but how long will the warmth last? AccuWeather experts have the latest details.
The final weekend of winter will be a cold one across the majority of the U.S. before the official start of spring on Monday.
The official start of spring occurs at 5:24 p.m. EDT Monday, March 20. AccuWeather meteorologists say that as a whole, this week will trend milder with temperatures returning back to, and then above, historical averages for most in the eastern two-thirds of the country.
At this point in the year as the sun climbs higher in the sky and the amount of daylight continues to increase, daily historical averages steadily climb 1-2 degrees every few days.
Conditions were downright cold for the latter half of March from the Plains states eastward to the Atlantic Seaboard on Monday morning. For many across the South, these freezing temperatures could put plants that have begun to bloom at risk.
Temperatures (F) across the southeastern United States at 4 a.m. EDT Monday, March 20.
Low temperature records had already begun to fall across portions of Arkansas and Tennessee in the earliest hours of Monday morning, with more entries in the weather history books likely to come throughout Monday.
Pattern change to flip the script as spring begins
AccuWeather meteorologists say that a change in the wind direction will usher milder air across the southern U.S. throughout the week and allow for a steady climb in temperatures.
"It will feel a lot more like spring for many locations," AccuWeather Long-Range Meteorologist Alex DaSilva said.
A high pressure system with origins from northern Canada has been the main driver of the late-season cold burst across the Central and Eastern states. As this high shifts off the East Coast by the middle of the week, this will allow milder southerly and southwesterly winds to flow across the region.
"After starting the weekend feeling more like the middle of January, temperatures will recover quickly in Chicago with highs around 50 degrees Fahrenheit for the first day of spring on Monday," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski said. Temperatures may climb near the middle 50s by Tuesday, around 6 degrees above the historical average.
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"Temperatures will remain several degrees above the historical average through at least the middle of the week," Pydynowski said, adding that there can be gusty winds each day that add a bit of chill to the air.
Farther east in New York City, where temperatures didn't break out of the 30s on Sunday, the thermometer could hit the 60-degree mark by Tuesday. The Big Apple's historical average throughout this week is in the lower 50s.
The warmer weather will take a bit longer to fully take hold of the South. In Atlanta, for example, the start of spring will remain cool with a high in the middle 50s forecast on Monday, compared to the historical average of 67.
Once the floodgates of warmth open, however, AccuWeather experts say that temperatures will be off to the races. By late week, Atlanta's high temperature could approach 80.
Houston will experience a similar chilly start to spring before temperatures rise above historical averages by the middle of the week.
Old Man Winter may not be ready to throw in the towel yet
AccuWeather's team of long-range meteorologists caution that even though milder weather is on the way for the first week of spring, bursts of cold air and snow can still occur over the coming weeks across the northern tier.
"While we are moving out of the winter season, we can still have another cold shot across the East as we close out the month, although this cold shot doesn't appear to be as potent as the one this weekend," DaSilva said.
"It looks like we can still have a few more chances for accumulating snow across interior portions of the Northeast even into the start of April; however, snow lovers along the coast might be out of luck for any more chances at a significant winter storm," DaSilva.
AccuWeather meteorologists will continue to provide updates on the 2023 spring forecast.
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