Blowtorch of spring to send temps soaring across much of US as winter ends

The 2023-24 winter is on track to finish as one of the warmest in over 130 years of record-keeping. The effects have ranged from a snow deficit to thin ice on lakes across the Upper Midwest.

The FOX Forecast Center is tracking a heat wave that promises to send temperatures soaring 20-35 degrees above average during what is considered to be the final week of meteorological winter.

Southerly winds circulating around a ridge of high pressure will help thermometers reach statuses that are more typical of April and May.

"It has been a very warm month for February – 5 degrees above the average," said FOX Weather meteorologist Jane Minar. "And this warmth, what we’re talking about over the South, is expected to flip-flop across the northern tier. So, in places like Chicago, temperatures are up in the 60s as we go into next week."

Forecast models show 70-degree temperature readings reaching as far north as southern Minnesota on Tuesday.

Temperature outlook
(FOX Weather)



The likelihood of warm weather is not a surprise, as both January and December finished with above-average temperatures as well.

Minneapolis; Fargo, North Dakota; Toledo, Ohio; and Oswego, New York, have all experienced some of their warmest winter periods on record.

The warm weather led to a lack of snowfall across most of the northern tier of the country and lakes that have continuously reached new record lows for ice coverage.

It was just over a week ago that NOAA declared lakes Erie and Ontario were essentially ice-free when they should have been nearing the peak of coverage for the year.

"We have never seen ice levels this low in mid-February on the lakes since our records began in 1973," NOAA scientists stated.

Snow accumulation map
(FOX Weather)



A sign of the warmth across the East and West coasts and in the South has been an early leaf-out process and increased pollen levels.

Data from the USA National Phenology Network showed nearly a third of the nation has seen the first signs of spring, where blooming is well underway.

The network said cities such as Portland, Oregon, and Roswell, New Mexico, are approximately five days early, but coastal communities in Virginia and the Golden State are nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.

Spring leaf out process
(FOX Weather)


Influx of cold air could follow threat of severe storms

Rounds of showers and thunderstorms that will impact the nation’s heartland next week will help usher in cooler air, but it’ll be too little and too late to save winter.

Forecast models show the invasion of cold starting Monday in the Pacific Northwest, before reaching the Rockies on Tuesday and the Plains on Wednesday.

Severe weather risk
(FOX Weather)


February usually has 28 days, but because 2024 is a leap year, this month is a day longer. That means meteorological winter, which started on Dec. 1, will be an extra day longer than is typical and will lead into the start of meteorological spring on March 1.