Temperature marches higher
From the record low of 10 degrees reached on Monday, the mercury at BWI-Marshall is headed for a balmy 73 degrees in sunshine by Sunday. If the forecast from Sterling holds up, it will be the highest temperature reading at the airport since Nov. 15, when we also topped out at 73 degrees.
Since then, BWI has seen the 70s only once - back on Feb. 11 when the instruments there reported a high of 70.
The weather patterns responsible for the warmup include the huge high-pressure system that moved in after Monday's snowstorm (left).
As that high moves eastward, we come increasingly into the return flow around the back (west) side of the clockwise circulation. And that pumps warmer, wetter air into the region from the South.
So, we can expect to reach the 40s in Baltimore today, the 50s on Friday, 60s on Saturday, and the 70s on Sunday.
As it happens, that's exactly the day West Virginia forecaster Jim Hughes predicted, on an online weather forum Feb. 17, would reach the 70s. Bullseye.
After Sunday's warmth, the next cold front, with some accompanying showers on Sunday night, clears the decks and sends us back to more seasonable temperatures next week.
Those of us living along the water may not get the full benefit of this warmup. Winds off the still-cold Chesapeake or the Atlantic may well hold down temperatures in places like Annapolis, at least by a few degrees. The Ocean City high on Sunday may stall out in the 50s.
Whatever rain we get from the next cold front will be welcome. The new Drought Monitor map is out this morning. It shows the region of "abnormally dry" conditions is spreading northward, and now encompasses 73 percent of the state. That said, the map is based on conditions on Tuesday, so it may not fully incorporate the benefit from Monday's snow, which is still melting.
Here's what Jim Hughes predicted about this week, back on Feb. 18:
"I firmly believe that we are going to see a significant warming trend developing in the east after the first few days in March. This trend should last at least one week and this will show up in the temperature anomaly average for the below stated time period.
"I think this warming trend is to occur between March 3rd - 10th. I am expecting to see at least one 70-75 degree day, (Or +15 mean anomaly) , and I wouldn't rule out two, or even a high close to 80 degrees.
"I am also expecting to see at least two daily +10 mean anomaly days. And the overall temperature average for this eight day period should end up being at least +5.0 (+40 cumulative). And this could be a conservative call. I am going to use the three local airports in the Baltimore - Washington area as a measuring stick but I expect this warming trend to be seen elsewhere around the east coast.
"If I had to pick a specific day for the warmest temperature. It would be March 8th."