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Weekend Warmth Breaks 142-Year-Old Record Across Eastern US

By By Brett Rathbun, Meteorologist
January 25, 2016, 12:10:11 PM EST

Warmth built across much of the eastern United States this past weekend, breaking record highs dating back to the 1800s.

For much of the East, high temperatures ranged between 20 and 30 degrees Fahrenheit above average last weekend. Temperatures that high are more typical of October.

Dozens of high temperature records were broken from the Midwest to the South to the Northeast this past Saturday and Sunday.



In many cases, the overnight low temperatures were higher than the average high for the date and also set records.

A persistent weather pattern led to a surge of mild air across the eastern United States.

“The warmth in the East last weekend was set up by a very strong jet stream that lifted well north of the eastern United States,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Evan Duffey said.

The jet stream is a narrow zone of strong winds in the upper levels of the atmosphere that helps to steer weather patterns. The jet stream also tends to separate the cold air to its north and warm air to its south.

High pressure over the southwest Atlantic Ocean generated southerly winds over the weekend, pumping in warm air from the equatorial region across the East.


A stretch of sunny and dry conditions also contributed to temperatures rising to record values.

An east wind across portions of New England, including Boston, allowed temperatures to stay below record values. Regardless, high temperatures were still 10-20 degrees above average.

The lack of a snowpack allowed temperatures to rise quickly during the daytime.

The lack of any winterlike chill across the East has not been uncommon for the past couple of months. The month of November was one of the warmest months on record for many Eastern cities.

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Through the first half of December, temperatures from the Atlantic Seaboard to the Plains have averaged above normal for the month. Some locations are close to 20 degrees above normal for the month.

Temperatures in International Falls, Minnesota, averaged about 19 degrees above average for the month through Dec. 14. The city has had only two days with a high temperature below 32 F and only three days with a low temperature in the teens. High temperatures are typically in the low 20s with overnight low temperatures in the single digits.


A mild week will keep temperature departures well above normal through the third week of December.

“Until the jet stream sinks to the south, temperatures will remain well above normal,” Duffey said.

While temperatures will lower slightly for much of this week, the first true taste of winter will build across the region late this week and into the weekend.

The first true shot of winterlike air will advance from the Plains on Thursday to the East Coast into the weekend.

Temperatures across much of the East will be slightly below normal for the weekend. However, that episode of cold weather will be very brief.

According to AccuWeather Chief Long Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok, another big surge of warmth is in store for the week of Christmas in the eastern U.S., despite winter's official arrival on Tuesday, Dec. 22.

"A number of locations in the East could be looking at highs well into the 60s to near 70 on Christmas Day," Pastelok said.

Much like November, this month is on track to be one of the warmest Decembers on record in the Eastern states.

Content contributed by AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski.

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