Something not very wintry and frankly quite weird has been going on this month to our west and south and it’s about to make a push into Southern New England. I’m talking about freakishly warm air. There’s been a lot of it in areas typically facing bitter cold and deep snow.
If you want some numbers to back up the hyperbole, check out the chart. This month there have been a whopping 2,805 record highs across the United States, but only 27 record lows. This pattern of warmth outstripping cold isn’t new, but the ratio in the middle of winter is noteworthy. Chicago had only reached 70 degrees three times in the month of February since 1871. After this week, they could double that.
Here in Southern New England it’s been a snowy month, but not very cold. Cities like Minneapolis and Chicago have been 10 degrees warmer than average this month. In Boston so far, we are just over a degree milder than a typical February, but that gap will grow this week. When February ends, it will mark the 10th straight month of above-average temperatures in the area and the 19th out of the past 20 that have been warmer than normal.
On Thursday, a southwesterly flow of warm air propelled temperatures into the 60s from Boston to Providence and back to Albany. Boston broke its record high for the day, reaching 68 degrees at Logan International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.
All this warm weather is causing the snow to disappear. The lack of snow is evident all across the upper Midwest and even now here in Southern New England. Folks who would be able to use snowshoes and cross-country skies can’t find any snow at all. The only bright spot for snow fans is in Northern New England, especially Maine, where snow has been abundant this winter.
As you might expect, the warmth is causing spring to show up in other ways as well. The cherry blossoms in Washington are on track for their earliest opening ever. The red-winged blackbirds arrived back at my house earlier than usual this week. To the south, buds are breaking ahead of schedule with some trees greening up over two weeks early. If this trend continues and we get a late frost, it could spell big trouble for apple and peach trees. You can be sure farmers throughout New England will be watching temperatures closely in the coming weeks. The early warmth may be enjoyable, but it does have potential consequences down the road.