The Worst of Winter Has Passed With the U.S. Entering Spring
(Bloomberg) -- The bitter chill that toppled Texas’s power grid and broke records across the Great Plains has retreated and likely won’t return.
Temperatures across the Midwest, South and most of the East Coast will likely linger 3 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit (2-3 Celsius) above normal through Feb. 27. While the West will remain colder into early March, the worst of winter is over.
“It’s safe to say ‘all clear’ on that caliber of cold,” said Matt Rogers, president of the Commodity Weather Group LLC. “But we do believe some colder periods could still return later in March for some above-normal heating demand at times.”
A blast of sub-freezing temperatures ripped across the U.S. into Mexico last week when the polar vortex -- the girdle of winds that bottles cold in the Arctic -- weakened. The record-breaking freeze overwhelmed Texas’s grid, leaving millions without lights, heat and, eventually, water.
In the last 30 days, 9,614 daily records for cold temperatures were set across the U.S., with most of those coming during the arctic blast, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information. On February 19, nearly 73% of the contiguous U.S. was covered with snow, according to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center.
The polar winds are starting to restrengthen, which is helping to corral the cold in the far north, said Jim Rouiller, lead meteorologist with the Energy Weather Group. This will likely lead to milder air flowing off the Pacific Ocean, keeping the worst of the cold at bay.
While last half of March could be chilly, “it will be nothing near what we went through,” Rouiller said. “What we went through last week was historic.”
The seasonal change to spring will also make it harder for any cold to become stubbornly entrenched. The first day of spring is March 20 and, with that, sunlight increases until the summer solstice.
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