We have one more bitterly cold night ahead of us and then FINALLY some relief is expected. Now it's not going to come all at once, but over the course of the next 3 days, we may actually get back to the 30's. More "seasonable" weather looks more likely from midweek through this weekend. But longer range computer models are hinting at an even bigger warm up next week. I hate to speculate just how warm it could get, but if a ridge builds into the region and southwesterly winds take hold, 40's and even 50's are common with that type of pattern. THIS IS NOT THE FORECAST… but speaking entirely from what we have seen in years past with this large of a pattern swing, those numbers aren't out of the question. The other ingredient that makes all of us a little more likely to believe this pattern change will actually occur, however brief it may be, is just how well advertised it has been by long range models.
The National Weather Service issues what they call an "Area Forecast Discussion" twice daily, once in the morning and once in the evening. This is where they comment on what they are seeing and why they forecasted the way that they did. In a recent discussion issued by the NWS office out of the Quad Cities in Iowa, the forecaster wrote about a large pattern shift that was and still is possible for the second half of February. This is HIGHLY unusual for these particular discussions as they are typically short term based (up to 7 days out). The unusual nature of these comments is what caught my attention… here is part of that discussion written on Wednesday February 5.
"MAJOR REGIME CHANGE STARTING DAYS 5 INTO DAY 10 NORMALLY SUGGEST
MAJOR CHANGES IN SOLUTIONS AND PREDICTABILITY NEXT SEVERAL DAYS.
THIS CHANGE WILL RESULT IN MUCH WETTER CONDITIONS ALONG WEST COAST
WITH MILDER TEMPERATURES AT/BEYOND DAY 10 FOR CENTRAL US. THE
MAGNITUDE OF ENERGY CHANGES IN THE PACIFIC ARE AMONG THE HIGHEST
I HAVE SEEN OVER A 5 DAY PERIOD USING MULTIPLE SOURCES IN 35 YEARS
OF ANALYSIS. THE MEANING...THIS WILL NOT BE A MINOR CHANGE AND
SHOULD RESULT IN MAJOR TEMP/MOISTURE CHANGES LASTING MANY WEEKS
AND QUITE POSSIBLY MONTHS."
I want to reiterate that this is just one man's opinion and NOT a forecast… but considering this is even a thought in a trained man's brain is a positive sign if you are looking for warmer weather.
In the near term at least, his thinking may be accurate. Check out one of the forecast computer models for the middle of next week (10 days away) in the picture below. It shows the potential for a brief but significant warm up.
It shows a large ridge building in the central parts of the country with widespread above normal temperatures possible under this potential ridge from the Gulf Coast to Canada. This would create widespread melting. However, it may just be brief as a developing storm would likely move through shortly after and cool us off. But it's at least some signs of hope that the rest of winter may not be as brutally cold.
This is further confirmed by the Climate Prediction Center whose current forecast is for a higher probability of above normal temperatures next week seen in the image above.