New York and Boston Shiver as West Coast Gets Break From Winter
(Bloomberg) -- U.S. weather can often be like a seesaw: when temperatures rise on one end they fall on the other side.
That’s the case now, with an Arctic chill that grips New York and the Northeast pushing temperatures well below freezing while California is dry and mild. It’s a turnabout from December, when the eastern U.S. enjoyed almost spring-like conditions with record-high temperatures and outbreaks of tornadoes, while California and the Rocky Mountains were buried in snow.
“It is very hard for the whole country to be cold at one time,” said Bob Oravec, a senior branch forecaster with the U.S. Weather Prediction Center. “A lot of times you have opposites, it is a pretty typical set up.”
While New York shivers and Boston’s high may only reach 12 degrees Fahrenheit (-11 degrees Celsius) -- so cold that the city cancelled school for the day -- California’s Sacramento will reach 58 degrees and the mountain resort community of South Lake Tahoe could make it to 48, according to the National Weather Service.
Los Angeles, which saw temperatures linger in the 50s and 60s through December, could reach 81 degrees -- a big swing from the summit of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, where the low was -31 Fahrenheit in the morning.
The jet stream -- a ribbon of fast-moving winds at high altitudes that help push weather systems around -- is a key to this seesaw situation. When it sweeps down from western Canada into the eastern U.S., New York and the rest of the East Coast can get a chill. Likewise, when the jet stream comes in off the Northern Pacific into California and the West, things get cold and stormy there while the East falls on the warmer side of the flow.
The same thing can happen in summer. When the high-pressure dome got stuck over the West in June and July, driving up record temperatures in California, the Pacific Northwest and parts of Canada, the eastern U.S. was relatively mild.
The phenomenon tends to be more noticeable at this time of year because “winter is more visceral,” Oravec said.
For easterners who love the chill, the news is good: the temperature seesaw looks to be stuck in place through the rest of January, Oravec said. There could even be another round of snow and ice by early next week, though it’s still a little early to make predictions on who will be shoveling their driveway.
The balance will start to shift again by early February, with the West becoming cooler and the East milder.
“Patterns will break,” Oravec said. “They don’t last forever.”
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