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On the heels of a powerful storm system set to bring travel disruptions, heavy snow and gusty winds to the Northeast at midweek, a discharge of cold air will reach the southeastern United States.
Residents from Florida to Maine witnessed abnormal, to in some cases record-breaking, warmth in February. The month behaved more like March or April.
The average temperature in Atlanta and Columbia, South Carolina, this February exceeded the normal average temperature in March.
In Jacksonville, Florida, the monthly average temperature of 66 degrees Fahrenheit recorded during February is not typically reached on a daily basis until April 8.
Even in cities that did not experience their warmest February on record, temperatures in nearly every location east of the Appalachians from Maine to Georgia and Florida were at least 5 degrees above normal last month.
A major shift in the weather pattern brought an end to the springlike warmth of February during the first few days of March.
For those longing for more springlike weather or for the return of warmth felt in February, it may take until the latter half of March for milder air to come back.
By the end of this week, much of the Southeast will be facing the chilliest air since the first or second weeks of February.
The difference between the highest temperatures reached in February and the lowest temperatures expected late this week from the mid-Atlantic to interior portions of the Southeast can be as high as 50-60 degrees.
“Thursday will be the coolest day in the Southeast, with temperatures averaging at least 10 to 15 degrees below normal, despite a large amount of sunshine in the forecast,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Brett Rathbun said.
“Conditions will be plenty cold enough for a widespread frost and freeze to impact the region, with frost possible even into southeastern Georgia and central South Carolina,” said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok.
Rathbun added that temperatures may fall below freezing (32 F) in northern Alabama and much, if not all, of Tennessee on Thursday night.
“Any sensitive outdoor plants that may have sprouted or placed outdoors for the spring may be damaged by the subfreezing temperatures,” Rathbun warned.
Temperatures on Thursday will be no better than the 30s across the Ohio Valley and central Appalachians and the 40s across the Tennessee Valley and much of Virginia and the Carolinas.
Similar conditions can be expected on Friday, but temperatures will begin to rebound back into the 60s across the lower Mississippi Valley and Deep South.
Residents will be trading in shorts and t-shirts for jackets and sweatshirts by the end of the week, especially for those engaging in outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, golf and jogging.
Although temperatures will gradually rebound back to early March averages by the weekend, a storm will chase the sun away and bring rain and thunderstorms back to the region.
Yet another shot of cold air is expected behind the storm early next week, and it may very well rival the cold shot at the end of this week.
There are signs that a much warmer weather pattern will then return to the eastern United States during the final two weeks of March.
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