Something not very wintry and frankly quite weird has been going on this month to our west and south and it’s about to make a push into much of Maine. I’m talking about freakishly warm air and there’s been a lot of it in areas typically facing bitter cold and deep snow.

There have been over 3,100 record highs this month across the United States.

If you want some numbers to back up the hyperbole, check out the chart.  This month there have been a whopping 3,146 record highs across the United States, but only 27 record lows. This pattern of warmth outstripping cold isn’t new, but the ratio in the middle of winter is noteworthy.  Chicago had only reached 70 degrees three times in the month of February since 1871.  After this week, they could double that number.

Here in Maine it’s been a snowy month, but not very cold. In Portland so far, we are just under a degree milder than a typical February, but that deficit will grow the rest of the month. Yes, there has been a lot of snow, 30 inches more than would occur in a typical February, but without much Arctic air.  When February ends it will mark another month of above-average temperatures in the area and the 12th out of the past 14 that have been warmer than normal.  Compare all this to cities like Minneapolis and Chicago, which have been 10 degrees warmer than average this month. 

It’s been a warm February for most of the country.

On Thursday a southwesterly flow of warm air will propel temperatures into the 60s from Boston to Providence and back to Albany.  Here in southern Maine readings will reach well into the 50s and some inland areas of York County will hit 60!  The question isn’t whether it will feel like spring, it’s just how warm it will become.  Even with enough sunshine and a wind direction that does not transport any cool air off the ocean, Portland will likely stay below the record high of 60 set back in 1990.  

Highs will remain just shy of the record in Portland today.

All this warm weather is causing the snow to disappear.  The lack of snow is evident all across the upper Midwest and even now here in Southern New England.  Folks who would be able to use snowshoes and cross-country skies can’t find any snow at all.  The only bright spot for snow fans is in Northern New England, especially Maine, where snow has been abundant this winter.

Maine is one of the only spots to have had a lot of snow this winter.

As you might expect, the warmth is causing spring to show up in other ways as well. The cherry blossoms in Washington are on track for their earliest opening ever. The red-winged blackbirds arrived back at my house earlier than usual this week. To the south, buds are breaking ahead of schedule with some trees greening up over two weeks early.  If this trend continues and we get a late frost, it could spell big trouble for apple and peach trees.  You can be sure farmers throughout New England will be watching temperatures closely in the coming weeks.  The early warmth may be enjoyable, but it does have potential consequences down the road.

Leaves are appearing well ahead of schedule this year.

You can follow Dave Epstein’s forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: