JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A note to the condemned: Winter, your days are numbered my friend.
March is forecast to come in like a lamb with temperatures soaring to near 80 degrees by next week marking the first swing of the spring sledge hammer that will put large, gaping cracks in the icy grip of winters grasp.
What a winter it has been, eh? So many records across the country obliterated. Destroyed. Ousted. Even records as old as 141 years were evicted and replaced here in Jacksonville. That article can be read HERE. It started early with temps plunging to 24 degrees on November 20th marking the second coldest temperature ever recorded in Jacksonville in the month of November.
The Great Lakes are nearly completely frozen over (84.1 percent to be exact as of February 26th) -- the first time since the frigid cold years of the 1970s that the lakes have been at 80 or more percent frozen in back to back years. Boston has recorded 102 inches of snow with only 6 inches left to go to break the all-time snowiest winter.
My Papaw always told me that no matter how thin you slice a waffer, there is always two sides. That same analogy applies to everything. The same is true in weather and climate.
The mountain west has enjoyed a very balmy winter with very little snow to be accounted for in Alaska. San Francisco, for the first time in their history, recording zero rainfall in the month of January -- none.
According to THIS ARTICLE from Weather.com, 12 cities are nearly guaranteed to experience their warmest winters on record including such places like Las Vegas, Reno and San Francisco.
Weather, in short, is nature's way of attempted equilibrium. However, being tilted at 23 degrees on our axis, uneven heating of the Earth's surface will never allow it to achieve it. The difference in thermal gradients from north to south is what drives the jet stream -- the river of fast moving air that divides the arctic air of the polar regions from the warmer, moist airmass of the sub-tropics.
The jet stream this year has been highly amplified in the western third of the country allowing for high pressure to dominate the weather and thus keeping conditions arid and warm. However, what goes up must come down. In the eastern two-thirds of the country, the jet dove south, way south, allowing bitter cold to penetrate deep into the south.
In some years, it's quite the opposite where the ridge is over the eastern part of the country bringing about mild, spring-like conditions while the west endures endless rain, mudslides and record snows in Seattle, Boise and Denver.
Jacksonville is in for a big warm-up after endless days of cloudy, rainy conditions and temperatures hovering in the 50s for daytime highs. Your treat for putting up with it? How about 80 degrees by next week?
Seen below is the GFS model. Seen in the yellow boxes are the forecast daytime high temperatures for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. In the pink box is forecast highs for Friday, March 6th as another cold front slips into our region. Unlike the fronts of a few weeks and months ago, they are beginning to lose their swagger as the season start changing.
Looking at the models, it's becoming more apparent that our cold outbreaks are numbered. There are a few indications of another cool down around March 6th but no freezes expected. All in all, as the days get longer (and they are getting longer by almost 2 minutes a day now!) and the sun angle gets higher, it only stands to reason that warmer weather will become more of the rule over the next few weeks.
Don't be fooled! March is a transition month and it can be sweltering and it can be wicked cold. We've had high temperatures as high as 91 degrees recorded before and overnight lows as cold as 23 degrees. That means garden-killing freezes are still possible even though they are not being indicated by models at this time.
All in all, for those who are looking forward to the warmer weather, your wait won't last much longer. For those who like the cold, including your humble author, then enjoy it because the endless, blistering-hot summer days are soon at hand.