Crazy Springlike Warmth Grips Much of USA – Preview of Coming Attractions?
With a February like this who needs March? We are getting a taste of the warmth here in the Northland this winter. Parts of Minnesota saw record rains earlier this week and last weekend the mercury came close to 50F in Hibbing and International Falls. This is still the dead of winter and many people are scratching their heads. Speaking of crazy warmth:
Check out a portion of Wednesday's record highs around the USA. Syracuse, New York should be experiencing harsh lake effect snows and subzero wind chills. It was 69F in Syracuse, 68F in Cleveland and a record 71F at Pittsburgh. Typical for late April or early May. In some cases more than 30 degrees warmer than average!
Much of the Northern Hemisphere is significantly warmer than average as Thursday's temperature anomaly map above shows, and it's been this way for much of winter.
What is going on?
1). Natural Variability. We always see wild swings in temperature, especially during winter. But the persistence of the warmth this winter is impressive.
2). Global Warming. Like it or not, warming continues, and across most of the USA the warming signal is most pronounced and noticeable during the winter months.
3). Fading La Nina. We have experienced a 3-year La Nina cooling phase of the Pacific Ocean, which is rare. That chilly water is starting to warm, to the point where NOAA is predicting "ENSO Neutral" by the spring, and a possible El Nino warming phase of the Pacific later this year. By they way, ENSO, the La Nina - El Nino cooling/warming cycles in the Pacific are entirely natural, although some scientific research suggests more frequent El Nino warming events as the atmosphere and oceans continue to warm.
A rapidly fading La Nina cool phase in the Pacific may be contributing to record storms in California and a mostly-Pacific flow of relatively mild air since early January for most of the USA. An El Nino pattern strongly favors warmer temperatures for the Northland, and a strong warm bias signal for next winter. This may be the atmospheric-appetizer with the main course coming during the Winter of '23-24.
The extended outlook is very much up in the air but weather patterns appear to be shifting gears and that could make for some very interesting weather in 2023.