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  • Writer's pictureMeteorologist Joseph Cooper

Is Winter Over?

It’s February; the last month of meteorological Winter, which spans from December 1 – February 28 (or 29 this year). Often, February can and does provide us with some of the coldest and snowiest conditions of the Winter season, but this February looks to bring many locations across the central and northern United States a taste of Spring. With all the warmth in the forecast, it begs the question, “Is Winter over?” We will get to that in a moment, but let’s first look at the short-term forecast.



In the coming days, a couple of features will be present which are clear indications of warm temperatures and give a very typical El Nino look. The first is the Pacific Jet Extension which is in place from west to east across the Pacific Ocean. This is often referred to as “The Pineapple Express” and not only brings very wet conditions to California, but it also transports very mild air into the United States. It’s this warm air we will continue to tap into in the coming days and weeks.



The second feature that will continue to develop across the northern United States into Canada is an upper-level ridge. This is an area of high pressure aloft at 500mb that will allow the warmth to continue to build into the regions underneath this ridge. However, across the southern United States, troughing will be in place. Cool air and unsettled conditions will remain there in association with the trough, much like what we witnessed in December.



For the northern U.S and the Midwest region, this means the first couple of weeks in February will feature above-average temperatures. Over the next 5 days, the Midwest will be 5-15° above average with portions of the northern Plains 15-30° above average!



Beyond that, above-average temperatures are forecast to continue for much of the same areas through days 6-10. However, the heart of the warmer temperatures will shift slightly east. For the next couple of weeks, it will feel more like Winter is coming to a close, but that is not the case.


Mid-February looks to feature some larger changes to the weather pattern, as high-latitude block returns and allows for colder air and troughiness to return across the Midwest. This looks to occur toward the end of week 2 and beyond (roughly Feb 14-15 and after).



Not only would high-latitude blocking support colder conditions, but also supports the potential for a snowier look. This can be seen via the American ensemble (GEFS) data in the day 11-16 period.



Beyond the week 2 period, there is a lot of uncertainty in the forecast. Some guidance suggests a warming trend toward the end of the month while other guidance shows continuing troughing. Regardless, enjoy the taste of Spring because more cold and opportunities for snow are on the way!



 

 

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