As New England is hammered by another cruel winter storm, the Plains and Mountain West are breaking record high temperatures and getting a pleasant dose of vitamin D.
On Saturday, Denver set a record high temperature of 74 degrees, breaking the old record by five degrees. The Texas Panhandle got a taste of summer on Friday and Saturday when temperatures peaked in the low to mid-80s — both days broke the record high.
Sunday was Salt Lake City’s fourth day in a row of record high temperatures — all in the mid to upper 60s. Friday’s high of 68 degrees was the warmest high so early in the season.
Salt Lake is trying to make a run for a fifth record high in a row on Monday, though morning rain has cooled things off a bit which will make it more difficult for temperatures to rebound in the afternoon. The old record for Feb. 9 is 62 degrees set in 1999. The Weather Service is calling for a high of 61 degrees on Monday in Salt Lake City.
Wichita, Kan., set a new record high of 74 degrees on Sunday, and El Paso, Texas, soared to 79, breaking the old record by one degree.
Boise, Idaho, shattered its high temperature record for the day when they reached a spring-like 65 degrees on Sunday. The old record high for the date was 58 degrees set in 1926.
On Monday, most of the extreme warmth has drifted back south. Locations in Arizona, New Mexico, and west Texas could take aim at their record highs on Monday and Tuesday afternoon.
Temperatures have been running 20 to 35 degrees above average in the Mountain West and Plains since Friday, and the warmth is expected to stay through the weekend.
As low pressure digs into the Northeast, a strong ridge is building over the western U.S., pumping warm air north and squashing any chance for drought-busting rain. The West doesn’t have anything close to a meaningful storm in the forecast through at least the next week.
Models suggest the weekend will look like tale of two countries, divided in half as Arctic air plunges into the eastern U.S., and warm air surges north in the Mountain West. So far this winter, we haven’t really seen a cold air outbreak dig this far south, but the forecast is still five to seven days out and there’s still uncertainty about how cold it will actually get, and how far south it will reach.