From winter to spring to winter

Even though the last 30 days (1/20-2/18) ranks as one of the 10 coldest in the past 110 years, the wintry weather will be nothing more than a memory during the last week of February. Temperatures will surge into the 60s by midweek and the NWS says that 70 degrees is a possibility for Saturday (2/24). However, this return to spring also brings with it the possibility of severe weather (including tornadoes) for the mid-south.

Thunderstorms will be possible Tuesday, but the real weather story of the week will arrive for the weekend. There is strong support for a powerful storm to move from the southwestern U.S. into the Great Plains on 2/24. The ensembles show a deep surface low (970s) moving to the northeast across the plains and west of Chicago. This storm will be able to tap into very cold air in southern Canada to produce a blizzard in the northern Plains and severe weather with tornadoes and severe thunderstorms from the southern plains into the Ohio Valley (including KY and TN). The Storm Prediction Center has issued a convective outlook for this area for next weekend. You can read their discussion here.

Don’t put away the sweaters and other winter clothes just yet. This powerful winter storm that could bring a widespread tornado outbreak into the southeast next weekend will also carve out a trough over the eastern U.S. This will lead to a return to a split-flow pattern where sub-tropical moisture will have the potential to meet with polar cold air (This is similar to what we have had for the past week). More than half the ensembles show a return to winter with the possibility of a major winter storm for the eastern U.S. during the first couple of days of March.

The Bottom Line:
1) Increasingly warm week ahead with temperatures rising from the 50s Monday to near 70 by Saturday. Thunderstorms are likely Tuesday and over the weekend, with the weekend storms possibly being severe.

2) Probable return to colder weather for the first few days of March. Ingredients are there for a major winter storm somewhere in the eastern U.S. with the return to a split-flow pattern.

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