Extreme Temperature Diary- Monday March 4th, 2024/Main Topic: Record Warmth Spreads Over U.S. Going into March

Minneapolis soars to 74 degrees as more record warm air swarms Midwest – The Washington Post

Minneapolis soars to 74 degrees as more record warm air swarms Midwest

Already, more than 200 warm-weather records have occurred in the early days of March, with dozens more on the way Monday

By Ian Livingston

Another wave of abnormally warm weather is swelling across the Midwest and through the Northeast just days after the Lower 48 states clinched their warmest winter in more than a century of observations. Already, more than 200 warm-weather records have occurred in the early days of March, and dozens more are on the way Monday.

Multiple locations from Kansas to Michigan witnessed their warmest day so early in the calendar year on Sunday as highs soared into the 70s and 80s. Minneapolis hit 74 degrees, which is a typical high over Memorial Day weekend.

On Monday, record-warm weather is predicted to expand eastward into Chicago, Detroit and Buffalo. The warm, humid air could fuel a few strong thunderstorms from Houston to Chicago.

The warmth keeps spreading over the central and eastern United States at the same time cold weather has been notably absent in Canada, a key source region for frigid air in North America. The lack of cold is attributable to both human-caused climate change and the El Niño climate pattern.

How warm it was over the weekend

The warmth first oozed into the Upper Midwest late last week.

Minneapolis tied a record high of 59 degrees on Friday and set a record of 63 on Saturday. Its high of 74 on Sunday was the warmest on record, not only for that day but also for the entire first half of March. It surpassed is previous March 3 record by 9 degrees.

Other notable record highs on Sunday included:

  • 82 degrees in Topeka, Kan.
  • 81 degrees in Springfield, Mo.
  • 80 degrees in Cedar Rapids, Iowa (highest temperature so early in the year)
  • 78 degrees in Peoria, Ill.
  • 73 degrees in Madison, Wis. (highest temperature so early in the year)
  • 71 degrees in Muskegon, Mich. (highest temperature so early in the year)

Some record highs also spread into the Northeast on Sunday. New York City (68), Hartford, Conn. (67) and Providence, R.I. (63) were among locations that set calendar-day records.

More records predicted for Monday and Tuesday

From the Midwest to New England, dozens of warm-weather records are forecast on Monday.

Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Buffalo are all forecast to climb into the 70s, or up 30 to 35 degrees above average.

It will be notably warmer to the south. From Texas to the Mid-South, 80s are probable on Monday. By Tuesday, parts of southern Texas could reach the 90s, while Houston has a chance to set a record high in the mid-80s.

Snow and ice remain at record low levels

Amid the warmth, snow cover averaged over the 48 states remains near a record low. And the same holds true for ice cover on the Great Lakes.

Just 21.4 percent of the contiguous United States was covered with snow Monday morning, tied with 2022 for the second-least on record. Only 2020 had less snow (21 percent coverage). The average area covered by snow on March 4 is 34 percent.

Meanwhile, ice covered a mere 3.5 percent of the Great Lakes on Sunday, the lowest value since records began in 1973. Ice cover typically peaks between mid-February and early March, but there’s little sign that will be the case this year. This season will probably end up having the least average ice cover over the lakes on record.

More spring ahead

Punxsutawney Phil seems to have been right about early spring, as green leaves expand north, flowers begin their blooms and pollen fills the air. The springlike weather pattern shows little sign of backing off in a significant way.

Even as the potential for warm-weather records wanes by midweek, projections lean toward above-average temperatures through mid-month. But as March is a fickle month, an occasional bout of chillier weather is probable, and there are some signs that a more winterlike weather pattern could briefly affect parts of the central and eastern United States during its second half.

By Ian Livingston Ian Livingston is a forecaster/photographer and information lead for the Capital Weather Gang. By day, Ian is a defense and national security researcher at a D.C. think tank. Twitter

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