A major warm-up that began taking shape in earnest on Monday will usher in temperatures that could eclipse records that date back to the late 1800s in parts of the central U.S., forecasters say.
And the warm weather will be on the move across the country. For some areas in the East later this week, temperatures will rise nearly 70 degrees from Monday morning’s lows.
“The seeds of the warmth were planted over parts of the Plains and southern Canada Prairies over the weekend,” Senior Meteorologist Alex Sosnowski said.
Over the weekend, temperatures across portions of the northern Plains and Midwest reached levels 15 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit above normal for early March. High temperatures climbed to the middle 50s, 60s and even 70s across the northern Plains, where high temperature records were nearly eclipsed.
Even warmer air is expected to build heading into the middle of the week.
The driving force behind the warm blast will be a pronounced northward bulge in the jet stream. As this bulge builds farther northward and eastward each day through the middle of the upcoming week, it will allow unseasonably warm air to spread across much of the Central and Eastern states.
The arrival time of the warmest air will vary from region to region. The first portion of the country set to receive warmth more akin to the middle of spring will be the nation’s midsection.
“A broad flow from the southwest will transport unseasonably warm air northward into the Upper Midwest and western Great Lakes early this week,” Senior Meteorologist Dan Pydynowski explained. “High temperatures into the 70s can extend as far north as parts of South Dakota and Minnesota on Tuesday.”
Many daily high-temperature records in these northern areas are in serious jeopardy of being smashed on Tuesday. A few of these records even date back to the late 1800s.
Forecasters say the forecast high temperature of 76 degrees in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on Tuesday would break the daily record high temperature of 63 degrees from 1967 by 13 degrees.
“The normal high for March 9 in Sioux Falls is only 40 degrees,” Pydynowski pointed out. “Average high temperatures for the city do not reach into the low 60s until late April.”
One of the oldest high temperature records in jeopardy this week belongs to the city of Minneapolis.
“The current record high of 61 degrees for March 9 was set back in 1879,” Meteorologist Matt Benz noted. “With a forecast high of 68, that 142-year-old record is in danger of being shattered Tuesday.”
In addition to warmer air flowing from the south, forecasters say there will be another important factor that will allow temperatures to soar 20 to 30 degrees above normal across the nation’s midsection.
“This time of the year it’s all about snow cover, or the lack thereof. Once the snow melts, the landscape goes from a surface that reflects incoming sunlight to a surface that absorbs sunlight,” Benz explained.
While conditions slowly began to warm across the eastern U.S. on Monday, the core of the warmest air will arrive on Wednesday.
Rather than early March, it will feel more like mid- to late April for much of the eastern half of the U.S. on Wednesday. While temperatures are likely to come up short of record levels in most locations across the East, temperatures will still soar to levels 15 to 20 degrees above normal.
This abrupt warm-up can lead to weather whiplash for some residents. Portions of the Northeast and mid-Atlantic that had high temperatures in the 30s to upper 40s over the weekend will have temperatures climbing into the upper 50s to near 70 on Wednesday.
Cities like Boston, Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, D.C. can all experience a jump to conditions 20-30 degrees warmer for Wednesday than over the weekend.
“This will be a dramatic temperature turnaround, especially in upstate New York and New England,” said Sosnowski.
“Saranac Lake, New York, started Monday at 17 degrees below zero, but is forecast to climb to near 50 or higher by Wednesday afternoon, which is a 67-degree turn around,” Sosnowski added.
This increase in warmth across the country will be good news for residents hoping to reduce their electric bills after a chilly February. A few days of unseasonably warm daytime temperatures and temperatures generally above freezing overnight will help to ease the heating burden on power grids and the wallets of millions across the Central and Eastern states.
This week will also be a great opportunity for those residents still cooped up inside due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to get some much-needed outdoor activity.
This warmth is forecast to hang on until the next disturbance takes shape over the center of the country later on in the week. During Wednesday and early Thursday in the Midwest and later Friday into Saturday in the Northeast, a cold front is forecast to push eastward and trim temperatures back again.