Warm weather in US forecast won’t last: Welcome to ‘false spring’
With golf courses opening in New York State, sled dog races canceled in Minnesota, and reports of snowdrops blooming in Virginia, parts of the central and eastern United States are experiencing unusually mild weather, which is being referred to as “fake.” Or “false” spring.
The epicenter of the latest warmth was the upper Midwest, where long-term temperature records were recently broken. That includes a balmy reading of 57 degrees in Minneapolis on Tuesday, surpassing the previous record of 51 degrees, the National Weather Service said. The average high there in early February is a freezing 25 degrees.
“The calendar says February, but it will look more like April in parts of the central and eastern parts of the country this week,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyssa Glennie said.
While most of the United States will enjoy above-average temperatures in the coming days, they are not expected to last, as cold and snow could return next week. The pleasant stretch of weather also serves as a reminder that spring continues to come earlier as the climate warms.
What is the forecast for the next few days?
According to the Weather Service, high temperatures will remain moderate in the central and eastern parts of the country, “with well above average conditions centered in the upper Midwest and Great Lakes, where forecasts call for high temperatures in the 40s, 50s and even some lows.” 60s increases 25-35 degrees above average.”
Some additional high temperatures or record-breaking temperatures are possible in the next couple of days.
This does not reflect typical February temperatures at all, Weather.com reported, adding that the warming trend is expected to continue into the weekend in some areas. Atlanta could also rise into the 60s by Friday and Saturday.
What causes unusual warmth?
The strange warmth is due to the location of the jet stream, which helps guide mild air northward into the central and eventually eastern U.S., AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Bob Larson told USA TODAY. The jet stream is also strong and is working to keep cold air packed into Canada and prevent it from moving into the United States, he said.
When will it get colder?
Larson said temperatures next week will drop to levels more typical for February as the jet stream will change location, allowing cold air to seep from Canada across much of the central and eastern United States. Snow may accompany the cold in parts of the Northeast.
Then, by the end of next week, he said more extreme cold is likely, along with some additional storms.
“Word to the wise, enjoy the next 10 days or so, because some winter cold and wintry weather will likely return to the eastern U.S. before and even after Valentine’s Day for the second half of February,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Dean Devore said.
Spring arrives earlier
While this “fake” spring may not be the actual start of a real spring, a warming climate is causing spring to arrive earlier in most parts of the United States, several scientific studies have reported. “The onset of spring plant growth has shifted to earlier in the year over the past several decades due to rising global temperatures,” one USGS study said.
Why does this matter? “Early spring onset may cause a phenological mismatch between the availability of plant resources and the animals dependent on them, and may lead to more false springs, when subsequent freezing temperatures damage new plant growth,” the USGS warned.
A separate analysis from Climate Central found that “spring leafing out” is occurring earlier in 76% (181) of the 239 cities the group analyzed, compared to 1981.