It was downright gorgeous across the United States and Canada earlier this week. Dozens of towns from Texas to Saskatchewan set record highs during the brief warm-up. Unfortunately, March's gotta act like March, and we've slumped back into that weird winter pattern of a warm west and cool east.
Temperatures in the 60s are slowly starting to creep back along the eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, but it's a far cry from what we saw just a few days ago. Midwesterners flooded social media with complaints of "WHAT THE HELL?" when they had to lunge for their coats on Tuesday.
The warmth was no joke. High temperatures crept close to 90°F across Kansas and Nebraska on Monday...
...only to dip more than 40°F colder just 23 hours later, when Canada threw a big, wet blanket of ick over the northern half of the country.
This awesome animation from coolwx.com shows the hour-by-hour fall of records over the past seven days around parts of the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Towns set multiple high temperature records last week, but long-standing records began falling in earnest once the weekend rolled around.
Most of you in the Northeast are probably reading this with a scowl, thinking "what warmth?" The ridge/trough setup of the jet stream hasn't allowed the warm air to infiltrate much beyond the Mason-Dixon line, but that's probably a good thing—you want a slow snow melt to avoid flooding and building leaks.
Over the next week or two, the ridge over the middle of the United States will begin to break down, sending us back into that split pattern of above-average temperatures in the west and below-average temperatures in the east.
The Climate Prediction Center releases a medium-range forecasts that show the odds of above- or below-average temperatures and precipitation. While their long-range forecasts leave something to be desired, these medium-range forecasts are usually pretty good at showing trends.
Here's the agency's latest 8-14 day temperature forecast, showing that striking difference between the warmer west and the cooler east.
The good news is that the atmosphere is slowly warming up—whether it wants to or not—so "below-average" doesn't necessarily mean that you're going to grow nosecicles when you go to check the mail. The bad news is that neither side of the country that needs relief is seeing any.
The persistent warmth in the western United States is gorgeous, sure, but each day that passes with above-average temperatures and no beneficial rain worsens the drought, depletes reservoirs, and dries out vegetation just a little bit more, setting the stage for a potentially explosive wildfire season.
When you look at the medium-range forecasts, however, the news isn't good. Here's next week's precipitation outlook, showing a not-insignificant chance of below-average precipitation across the southwestern United States from California through Texas.