Amazingly Warmer Weather Is Heading to Eastern U.S., for a While

Anyone looking for an ally in the fight to escape the grasp of winter only has to walk out the front door and look into the sky.

It’s the sun. It’s there. Really.

As it climbs ever higher, from the perspective of those of us on the ground in the Northern Hemisphere, the longer days and more concentrated rays will eventually break the back of winter for another year.

Just how long is it going to take?

“There’s good news and bad news on this front,” said Todd Crawford, a meteorologist at WSI in Andover, Massachusetts.

The good news is there aren’t any storms on the horizon for the northeastern U.S. through the next week or so and temperatures may actually rise to what would be normal for this time of year.

“Going from 15 degrees below normal for most of February to normal in March, when normals are increasing rapidly, will feel amazing in a relative sense,” Crawford said. “The strong March sun really helps here.”

The bad news is, well, it may not last.

By mid-March, another wave of arctic air might drop down into the central and eastern U.S. and provide one last blast of cold, said Michael Schlacter, a meteorologist with Weather 2000 Inc. in New York.

What Thaw?

“I don’t see why there isn’t another four to five more weeks of winter in the tank after the thaw,” Schlacter said. “I don’t even like calling it a thaw.”

So it may be too soon to put away the shovels even if temperatures flirt with 50 in New York and 60 in Washington by March 11, as predicted by MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

The Earth is tilted on its axis, and as it orbits through the course of the year the sun appears higher in the sky as spring approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, peaking at the summer solstice in June, said Paul Walker, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania.

The heat that builds up as the daylight lasts longer can bring about changes to the atmosphere, such as pushing the jet stream out of the U.S. and into northern Canada.

That’s needed to break the pattern that has pumped cold into the eastern U.S. and brought storm after storm to the large cities.

Prevailing Patterns

A ridge of high pressure that has parched the West Coast remains in place, and with it, a trough that provides an escape route for frigid air to drop down from Canada into the central U.S., Walker said.

On top of that, the southern branch of the jet stream is still pretty active, and that can be a conveyor belt for dragging storms across the U.S.

“There is increasing evidence for a return to a colder, stormier pattern by the last 10 days in March,” Crawford said. “I’m hoping this will conveniently go away if I stop looking at it for a couple of days.”

Who knows? By April or May it may actually get warm again.

“Then we should see the spring that people talk about,” Walker said.

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