A January Thaw Has Arrived for Parts of South, East

Brian Donegan
Published: January 12, 2017

A welcomed January thaw is engulfing the recently wintry South and East, melting away much of the snow and ice that piled up during Winter Storm Helena late last week and into the weekend.

On Sunday, snow was on the ground in a portion of every state except Florida, but any remaining snow in the South and mid-Atlantic will likely be replaced with puddles into Thursday.

As of 2 p.m. Thursday, new daily record highs have been set in New York City (65 degrees), Worcester, Massachusetts (57 degrees) and Atlantic City (65 degrees). Record highs have also been tied in Boston (61 degrees), Providence, Rhode Island (59 degrees) and Columbus, Ohio (67 degrees). 

Record highs dating back to 1911 (106 years ago) were broken Wednesday in Oklahoma City and Evansville, Indiana. Additional record highs tied or broken Wednesday include Midland, Texas (83 degrees vs. 78 degrees in 1935), Wichita Falls, Texas (82 degrees vs. 77 degrees in 1928), Dalhart, Texas (74 degrees vs. 71 degrees in 1995), Joplin, Missouri (74 degrees), and Springfield, Missouri (74 degrees).

Oklahoma City's record high of 79 degrees Wednesday was only the seventh time on record that city has reached 79 degrees or higher in the month of January, and it occurred just 4 days after a record low of minus 3 degrees.

(MAPS: 10-Day Forecast High/Low Temperatures)

The warmth started to build in the center of the country Tuesday, from the Great Lakes to the southern Plains, and will continue expanding eastward through Thursday. While the Northeast returns closer to average by Saturday, well-above-average temperatures will linger through the weekend in parts of the South.

(MORE: For the U.S., 2016 Was the Second Warmest Year on Record)

The polar jet stream has retreated northward into Canada, allowing milder air to move in on a south to southwesterly flow. A few record highs will again be challenged in the South and East Thursday.


Forecast Highs Compared to Average Thursday

By the weekend, Winter Storm Jupiter will bring an ice storm to areas from the Plains to the Midwest and Northeast, as colder temperatures make a comeback on the heels of our January thaw.

After that, it looks like the warmth may make a comeback next week with above-average temperatures encompassing the entire eastern half of the nation. The latest 6- to 10-day outlook from NOAA shows a high probability of above-average temperatures in the East next week.

MORE: Winter Storm Iras

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