Dog days of February: More summertime weather forecast across US

A person stands on the Hudson River shoreline as heavy fog hangs over the skyline of New York City and midtown Manhattan in the background, in Weehawken, New Jersey, U.S., February 27, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Segar

By Brendan O’Brien

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Millions of Americans across a wide swath of the U.S. Midwest, East Coast and South will enjoy a second day of weather more typical of June than February on Tuesday before a powerful cold front brings back winter with a vengeance.

Summer-like temperatures ranging up to 40 degrees Fahrenheit above normal were forecast, setting the stage for a second record-breaking day in a row in some spots. In Texas, temperatures were expected to top 80 degrees F (27 degrees Celsius) after hovering at about 94 degrees F (34 C) in Dallas and other cities on Monday, the National Weather Service said.

In Killeen, Texas – home to the U.S. Army’s Fort Cavazos base, formerly known as Fort Hood, about 150 miles (241 km) south of Dallas – the high was expected to be 90 degrees F (32 C), after the city of 150,000 people saw a record-breaking 100 degrees F (38 C) on Monday.

“This is Texas, we’re adapted to the heat,” said a barista at Black Rifle Coffee shop in Killeen. “We have big doors that we opened wide to let the breeze in and people mostly ordered cold drinks.”

Accompanying the hot, arid weather, strong wind gusts will bring the potential for wildfires in the southern Plains. Local officials urged residents to avoid outdoor burning.

Forecasters said it was difficult to link the remarkable weather pattern to human-induced climate change, but such extremes were becoming more frequent because of global warming, they say. Scientists say the seasonal El Nino weather pattern – in which the waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean heat up – is also contributing to the unusual weather.

In Cleveland and Philadelphia, where it is normally in the 40s, the highs were expected to reach well into the 60s on Tuesday. In Chicago, the high was forecast to reach 77 (25°C), a record for any day in February on record.

Enjoy the mild weather while you can, forecasters say, forecasting a return of winter to the Central and Eastern U.S. on Wednesday, with temperatures near 0 degrees F (-18 C), heavy snows and gusty winds in many locales, including Chicago.

“After summer-like temps in the 70s today, tomorrow morning’s wind chills near or below zero will feel absolutely brutal!,” the weather service in Chicago said on X.

Parts of the Dakotas and Idaho got a taste of what was to come on Tuesday as temperatures plummeted well below zero F and as much as 7 inches (18 cm) of snow was expected throughout the day.

In Mackay, Idaho, a town of some 600 people 200 miles (320 km) east of Boise, Idaho, the mercury dropped to 8 degrees F (-13 C) on Tuesday.

“There’s no place to hide from the cold,” said Edith Wheeler Seay, a manager at Mackay Lumber and Hardware.

“All the folks around here are ranchers mostly, and there’s nowhere to hunker down,” she said. “We bundle up and are out in it.”


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