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Cold Streak Snapped! Is the worst of winter over?

Well pat yourselves on the back everybody, we finally did it! Our latest streak of cold days came to a screeching halt on Wednesday with temperatures above normal for the first time in weeks. Unfortunately, the warmth did come along with a big storm, but hey - we'll take what we can get right? Let's take a look at Wednesday's numbers.

Now, this isn't exactly a tropical day by any means. In fact, it works out that we were only slightly above normal on the high side. But it is significant for these reasons: 

  • This marks the first day above normal since January 2nd (streak of 23 days)
  • Wed. was only the 3rd day above normal since December 2nd

Now that we've got that monkey off our back, the question is can we sustain a warm weather trend? So far this winter that answer has been an emphatic "NO". After our 70 degree day on December 1st, Arctic air came in close behind to ruin the party. With the warmth we enjoyed to ring in the New Year, another powerful cold front was here to slam the door with stubborn cold air. But we think (and we hope!) that this time will be different. Here's why...

The Jet Stream for most of the winter has featured a flow that us meteorologists call "high amplitude" or "meridional". All this means is that the fast moving flow of air across the country has huge ups and downs like a roller coaster. These hills and valleys create huge differences in temperature across the country, and encourage cold air to travel much farther south into these dips in the flow - which have been right over the East Coast this winter.


Now as we look ahead into the forecast, we're starting to see a setup in the upper air pattern that is much more flat, or what we call "zonal." As you can see, with a zonal flow there are far fewer dips and ridges in the Jet Stream. This means that in general, it's cold in the north and warm in the south. Makes sense, right?

So, as we move into this zonal flow for the next five to seven days, it should come as no surprise that our highs and lows will generally fall within a few degrees of their average max's and min's. That means mid 50's and upper 30's for Wilmington, and after this winter so far -- I'll sure take it, won't you?

That's all for now. Feel free to let us know how you're liking these changes by leaving comments or shooting me an e-mail.

- TB

By: Tim Buckley