Is winter over?
That seems to be the question, at least from the general din of a few recent evenings’ worth of chatter here in the city. So, am I ready to leave all my chips on the table, risk ridicule and reputation and make a wishful declaration? Can I reject and repudiate the Great Rascal himself, Phil the Groundhog, and his gloomy proclamations of a drawn-out winter?
Well, to start, let’s simply look around us. We’ve just wrapped a Presidents’ Day weekend that included record-breaking warmth on Sunday. After a seasonably cold night tonight, highs will remain well above average this week. So winter has, at least, been interrupted.
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The longer it’s interrupted, the stronger and fresher any Arctic air mass would have to be to really sink temperatures. And that’s all about the sun. Astronomically, we’ve turned a corner: isn’t the sun noticeably bright and strong? Today, it’s as high in the sky at its peak as it is on October 18, slightly more than halfway to its highest point in the sky at the summer solstice.
With the sun strong enough, February can bring us wild extremes: record highs running in the mid-70s. Yet some of our most infamous blizzards have occurred in February, most recently in 2014 and 2010, not to mention the Presidents’ Day Superstorm of 1979.
We have a weakening El Niño, lots of recent warm air intrusions over an Arctic Ocean already at record low ice levels, and other factors. While there are chances for some snow late this month and early March, the global models are showing credible trends for a chillier March — with the core of the cold dropping into the Midwest, and major storms arriving just in time for warming, signaling rain.
So, I’ll hedge a bit: the worst of winter is behind us, but March won’t feature lots of T’s-and-shades days, either.
The week ahead:
- Today: Clouding up, chance of a shower this evening. High 48.
- Tomorrow: Mainly sunny, warmer. High 60.
- Thursday: Partly sunny, warm. High 70.
- Friday: Partly to mostly cloudy. Chance of light rain. High 65.
- Saturday: Mild with showers likely. High 63.
- Sunday: Partly cloudy, windy and cooler. High 46.
Michael Friedmann, a New York-area meteorologist, can currently be seen on metropolitan area cable news on weekends. Follow him on Twitter attwitter.com/WeatherTalk.