Record Highs, Blizzard Conditions, and Severe Weather – February in the Nation’s Midsection

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” – Mark Twain

It’s not quite spring yet, but this quote is still appropriate. Much of the nation’s midsection has been enjoying temperatures more typical of April than February for the past week, with a few hundred record high temperatures broken. That is about to change, as Mother Nature will remind the region that is still February.

Numerous record highs are expected across the Plains and Midwest again today. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Of course, they will still have one more warm day today, with highs well into the 60s and 70s likely setting more records. However, a cold front will sweep across the region, bringing an end to the record heat, and setting the stage for a snowstorm.

The low pressure system that brought more rain to California over the past couple of days will head eastward, bringing some snow into the Rockies today. As that system moves into the Plains on Thursday it will start to strengthen, drawing moisture northward from the Gulf of Mexico while cold air flows southward on the backside of the storm into the Northern Plains. Where these airmasses meet, snow will develop across the Central Plains states. The snow will be accompanied by winds of 20-30 mph, gusting to 40 mph or more at times, resulting in near-blizzard conditions across portions of South Dakota, Nebraska, southeastern Wyoming, and eastern Colorado on Thursday.

More than a foot of snow may fall in a swath from the Plains into the Upper Midwest. A lot of these same places are going to be in the 60s and 70s today. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

As the system heads eastward, snow will move into portions of the Mississippi Valley and the Upper Midwest on Friday. The heaviest snow looks to stay just south of the Twin Cities, but even there, moderate to heavy snow is likely. By the time the storm moves out on Saturday, a foot or more of snow is possible in a swath from the Central Plains into the Great Lakes.

Snow isn’t the only threat from this system. As the storm moves eastward, record warmth will remain in place across the Midwest. With warm, moist air in place and a strong cold front approaching from the West, strong to severe thunderstorms are possible across portions of the Lower Great Lakes and Ohio Valley on Friday. Some of the stronger storms that form may contain damaging winds, hail, and possibly tornadoes.

The Storm Prediction Center has already highlighted the Midwest as an area to watch for severe weather on Friday. Image provided by NOAA.

The system will continue to move eastward, bringing some rain to the East Coast on Saturday, which may cause problems for hockey fans in the Steel City. The next NHL Stadium Series game (Ed – Enough with the outdoor games already. It jumped the shark a long time ago), is scheduled for Saturday at 8pm between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers. The daytime hours will likely be mild with rain, but the rain may change to snow late in the day as temperatures tumble. Either way, it won’t be a pleasant night for fans to be sitting in the stands at Heinz Field. Here at Storm HQ, we despise the Flyers, so we hope their fans not only have to sit through the weather, but watch their team get thumped too.

That’s former UMass-Lowell RiverHawk (and StormHQ favorite) Scott Wilson hoisting the Stanley Cup last June. Image provided by Toronto Star.

Once it gets past Pittsburgh, that front will head eastward, bringing some rain to us here in New England. It probably won’t be a lot of rain, but temperatures will be in the 50s and possibly 60s ahead of the front on Saturday. Once the front comes through, Sunday will be windy and colder.

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