Despite a 42 degree Valentines Day, February has been a cold month to date around the central U.S. Check out these departures half way through the month.
That's a far cry from last February when the average temperature for the entire month was 11 degrees above normal. Here's the daily data for February 2017 in Cedar Rapids. Notice 11 of the 28 days had highs of 50 or above. An amazing 7 days were 60 or above. The 76 degree high on the 22nd was the warmest temperature ever measured in February. Only 4 days had highs below freezing. Wow, what a change this year!
The February 2017 monthly departure looks like this. 90% of the nation above to well above normal. Compare that to this year above.
This year, the next few days will see significant temperature fluctuations as a couple disturbances swing winds to the north and then back to the south. With the north winds Friday highs will take a pretty good hit.
Come Sunday the winds are back to the south and temperatures go back up. In fact, readings could be more than 20 degrees warmer than Friday. Take a look at what the EURO predicts.
And, it gets even warmer than that. The EURO shows highs Monday approaching 60 as far north as Cedar Rapids and the Quad Cities.
Just as impressive are the dew points. They are pushing 60 over southern Iowa!
Precipitable water vapor is as high as 1.5 inches. That's nearly 5 standard deviations above normal. That is about as extreme as you will see at this time of year.
The unusual warmth and moisture combined with a low pressure and cold front could cause thunderstorms in parts of eastern Iowa, Missouri, and western Illinois. There is CAPE (convective available energy) and that brings to the forefront the possibility of convection.
If things come together (a big if right now) a few strong storms are possible in some part of the Midwest. You may recall last February a major severe weather outbreak hit the area February 28th. 565 severe weather reports came into the Storm Prediction Center. 72 of those were tornadoes. It's rare but it can happen.
The EURO is the most aggressive bringing the warmth and instability into my area. Lacking support from other models so far, there is lower confidence in this part of the forecast. However, it certainly is worth watching the next couple of days as unseasonal warmth will certainly be close by. Signs of spring! Roll weather...TS