Groundhog Phil predicted more winter this morning in Punxsutawney, Pa., but that couldn’t be further from what we’re seeing in the next few weeks. Long-range forecast models are predicting exceptional warmth across almost the entire North American continent, and outlook maps are burning red.
In the short-term, things are going to cool down, especially on the East Coast. Through the weekend, temperatures will be more like average for this time of year (i.e. it’s going to be cold, because it’s winter), and then there’s another cold shot lined up for later next week. Potentially.
But after that, the pattern looks like it’s going to flip, and we’re going to be on the warm side for the rest of the month.
At times, temperatures will be 20 degrees above average, and the blasts of cold Canadian air we usually see in between the warm-ups look weak, and they aren’t diving that far south. At least one long-range forecast model, the CFS, seems to think this will combine to create a substantial warm anomaly over nearly all of North America in the coming weeks.
These are some of the warmest temperature departures we’ve seen from this model, covering such a large area. This model, however, has a mixed track record and confidence in temperature forecasts decreases the further out we go.
The National Weather Service favors warmer than average temperatures in the Lower 48 in February. There may be a few cold shots in there, but overall the month looks like it will end above-average.
In his February outlook, the Capital Weather Gang’s Matt Rogers pointed to warmth in Washington, too:
February temperatures should be 3 to 5 degrees warmer than normal. Like January and December, we suspect some warmer periods will overperform again, which will end up pushing the month above average. Looking into next week, for example, D.C. may hit 60 degrees. That’s certainly not February-like. Historically, the average temperature for February is just 39 degrees (3 degrees warmer than January).
That also means we’re not likely to see much snow during the month. The forecast models keep trying to spin up coastal storms, but they quickly fizzle. Sunday’s snowy potential in the District went from 2 to 4 inches to nada in the course of two days. Matt says he thinks we may be able to eke out a few inches this month, but even that would be much lower than average.