Spring Heat Wave Hits Middle of United States

By: Shaun Tanner , 3:46 PM GMT on March 14, 2012

For much of the Winter, the United States has been stuck in a nearly zonal pattern. What that means is that the flow from West Coast to East Coast has been generally flat. No zig-zags north or south. We have spoken a lot of the Arctic Oscillation and how the jet stream has been very reluctant to make any sort of southward jog down into the Lower 48 since December. The result of this is that the country has experienced a very warm Winter. So warm, in fact, some outlets are calling this the 4th warmest Winter on record for the country.

Well, fast-forward to now and we are beginning to see something quite different. With a low pressure trough over the West Coast (with more to come) and a high pressure ridge over the eastern half of the country, we are in a more progressive pattern. Progressive simply means that things are moving now. Rather than earlier in the Winter when things just seemed to be stuck in time. Trouble is, the progressive pattern is occurring in the West where several storms are pounding the area. In the East, however, the high pressure ridge seems to be stuck, and will continue to be stuck for the next several days.

This high pressure ridge is what I want to focus on right now as it continues to bring well-above normal temperatures basically from the Plains eastward. Below is the expected high temperatures for Wednesday.

Note the reds and orange colors in the Plains and Southeast. Those colors translate to 70s and 80s for these areas. Take Chicago, for instance. The city's normal high for today is 46 degrees with a record of 76 degrees set in 1995. Well, Chicago may be that record today as the forecast is set for 77 degrees.

Much of the Southeast has averages this time of year in the 60s. Birmingham's forecast is in the lower 80's, making a record-setting day possible there as well (the record for today is 84 degrees set in 1967).

If you enjoy this type of warm Spring weather, then the East is the place to be over the next 5 days or so. The extended forecast is calling for days with maximum temperatures in the 70s and 80s into next week. In the meantime, keep an eye on Weather Undergrounds new Record Extremes section as it tracks daily records set throughout the country. I have a feeling it will be quite active over the next few days.

Who is enjoying this Spring weather?

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2. Soap2
2:55 AM GMT on March 16, 2012
I dont see any map
Member Since: November 21, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 11
1. Patrap
3:47 PM GMT on March 14, 2012
PCB baby...

Spring Break is on, Woo Hoo!

Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 439 Comments: 137214

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Wunderground Meteorologist Shaun Tanner

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Shaun Tanner has been a meteorologist at Weather Underground since 2004.

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