Why so warm?

Feb. 21, 2017: The record-setting warmth keeps rolling on this week, with likely one more day of record breaking conditions before we resume our usual cold February weather.

So, what gives? Why has the weather been so extraordinarily warm lately?

There are a few reasons, which add together to provide a record breaking week:

  1. No snow, or snow cover
  2. A large, broad ridge to block out cold air
  3. Very warm air to our south
  4. A general warmer than average weather pattern

To start off, snow reflects sunlight. This means the sun’s energy can’t go into warming the ground, which warms the air. This leads to colder air, so when we don’t have snow like right now, the air is generally warmer.

Next, there is a big, blocking ridge set up over us. The ridge is set up to our north, bottling up any cold air over Canada that usually sits over us.  The “blocking” part of the ridge blocks or weakens any weather systems that try to push in over us and sweep in cold air. Instead, they get directed south, which is why California has been so rainy and stormy lately.

This ridge has allowed the ground to bake over the west, creating an impressive area of very warm air. Southerly winds blow that air in to us, giving us a dose of very warm conditions.

Lastly, according to the National Weather Service, 90% of the days since January 2014 have been warmer than average. When we start out warmer than usual, it’s easier to jump to record-breaking weather.

All of this has combined to create an exceptional warm streak, one that hasn’t been seen in nearly 90 years. This pattern does finally break down by the end of the week, providing what will feel like very cold weather, but actually just gets us back to average.



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 21, 2017

1 Comment so far

  1. gmail sign up January 9, 2019 2:47 AM

    Thanks for sharing such a good article and for informative things. Your articles are really amazing and I got a lot of information and guidance reading them.

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