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A flicker near the end of the tunnel
We still have three weeks of meteorological winter left to go, and therefore shouldn't yet expect the cold, snow and ice to be on its way out for good. But long-range models are starting to indicate a warmer pattern by the end of the week, at least into the later half of the month. Highs into the low 50°Fs are possible for at least a few days starting this weekend here in the St. Louis area, which should melt off most, if not all, of our snow and ice cover. Models show the 850mb freezing line (a rough gauge of the rain/snow line) wavering across our region during the next week, with no strong surface cold air masses plowing through for the foreseeable future. While that isn't a great setup for t-shirt weather into the 60s or higher, it's not a signal for the frigid Arctic outbreaks we've dealt with of late. Further encouraging is the longer-range models, including the Euro and the GFS ensembles, showing a more zonal jet across the northern 2/3 of the US, for as far out as the models go (toward the end of February). This would mean a much milder last few weeks of winter as we move into March, when the more permanent seasonal warmup will begin.
GFS ensembles for Day 11
While I'm not seeing a sign of thunderstorms in St. Louis with this impending warmup, they may be possible further south, and not out of the question that a stronger surge of warmth might creep its way toward us and bring us a chance of some lightning. Whatever happens, it's nice to know that we're on the 'home stretch' toward meteorological spring, and a milder February will definitely make it easier to endure these last few weeks of winter. The increasingly higher sun angle is always our friend this time of year, and in this part of the country, the dark soil in the fields acts as a nice source of heating whenever the clouds can clear out during the day.
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