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Spring-like weather bringing record high temperatures this week

New York City, Philly and Boston could all see new record-breaking highs on Wednesday, edging out previous high temps from as far back as 1906.
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Wednesday will be a good day to spend some time outside. Photo: Flickr Creative Commons / Allan Leonard

Are you feeling spring fever? After a bit of snow, temperatures could hit record highs this week, giving an early taste of the warmer season.

“The whole eastern part of the country is feeling the effects of this unseasonable warmth,” said Kim Buttrick, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Boston office.

On Tuesday, temps along the east coast were higher than average for this time of year, hitting higher than 60 degrees in Boston, when the normal high this time of year for the New England city is 40 degrees, Buttrick said.

Wednesday will be even warmer, with the high expected to reach 70 degrees.

“In fact, records are likely to be broken [on Wednesday],” Buttrick said. “For Feb. 21, the record high in Boston is 63 degrees, which was set in 1906.”

New York City will feel the warmth as well, possibly breaking the previous record, though it could be too close to call it a sure shot right now, said Jay Engle from the NWS New York City office.

The record high for Feb. 21 in New York City is 68 degrees, set in 1930. Forecasters are predicting it’ll hit near 70 degrees, but some fog in the morning could affect how quickly things warm up and how high the temperature gets overall.

“We’re getting close to or maybe just barely breaking the record, but I wouldn't call it a high confidence forecast for a new record — it’s about 50/50,” he said. “We are confident we’ll get high above normal.”

Though a record high might be surprising to those who still shudder remembering the brutal cold snap the city got earlier in the winter, Engle said it isn’t rare to get record highs and lows in the same season.

And though temperatures won’t stay this high for very long, “we are looking for relatively mild weather to continue pretty much to end of the month,” Engle said.

Further down the coast in Philadelphia, Wednesday is expected to be 73 degrees, just barely breaking the record high of 72 degrees for Feb, 21, set in 1930.

This doesn’t necessarily mean we’re full on into spring, though, warned Paul Fitzsimmons of the NWS Philadelphia office.

“We’re not saying for sure that we’re going to have a lot of additional winter weather — the pattern for the next week or two does look to be staying relatively mild, not this warm but mild — but even so, you can still get wintry weather right through March,” he said.

Though these highs are not normal for this time of year, meteorologists said that big swings in temperature (like how some areas on the east coast just saw snow and previously had below-average frigid temps earlier this winter) throughout the season are common.

“Late winter and spring typically is quite variable. Overall the northern hemisphere is warming but there’s still lot of areas of cold air left,” Fitzsimmons said. “There’s a lot of back and forth with the warming trend you see going into spring, plus the cold air that doesn’t want to give up.”

“Temperatures in the 70s, that does not happen every year,” he added, “but general fluctuation between mild versus cold is normal.”

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