Cold Enough to Ski; Too Mild to Ice-Climb
The abnormally mild February hasn't put a dent in Colorado's bang-up ski season. The highest slopes are still more than cold enough to support a healthy snowpack even with above-average temperatures. At opensnow.com, Joel Gratz noted that the statewide snowpack as of Sunday, Feb. 12, had already matched the level reached during the early-April peak of an average year. "What an awesome season so far with more to come!" exclaimed Gratz. Meanwhile, at Colorado's lower elevations, those hankering for winter recreation felt the pinch of unseasonal warmth. The state's Ouray Ice Park climbing venue was forced to close for the season on Friday, Feb. 10, a full month earlier than average. "While we still hold a glimmer of hope for this season at the Park, that is fading fast," said the park in a plaintive online statement.
Surges of Warmth Continue to Funnel Into High Arctic
The strong jet streams crossing the U.S. of late have spun up several powerful Northeast snowstorms (see embedded video below) and gone on to push very mild, moist air deep into the Arctic. One such spike arrived late last week, with temperatures of 50°F or more above average approaching the North Pole as reported by Capital Weather Gang and The Weather Network (Canada).
Well downstream from the nor'easter that was slamming eastern New England on Monday, a swath of low-latitude air pushed the temperature at Eyjabakkar, Iceland, up to 19.1°C (66.4°F). If validated, this will rank a full 1°C (1.8°F) above the previous national record for February, set at Dalatangi on Feb. 17, 1998, according to international weather records researcher Maximiliano Herrera. He adds that temperatures in the free atmosphere over central Sweden were analyzed above the freezing mark on Monday at heights of up to 11,000 feet.
Unsurprisingly, the extent of Arctic sea ice remains at record-low levels for mid-February. Moreover, the extent of Antarctic sea ice is on the brink of setting a record-low value for any time of year.
This year is lagging all other years since records began in 1979 for sea ice extent in February.National Snow and Ice Data Center
Eastern Australia Blisters in All-Time Record Heat
Another swarm of heat records invaded eastern Australia, where a brutal summer is unfolding. Port Macquairie, where records have been kept since 1910, broke its all-time record for any date on Sunday with a scorching high of 46.6°C (115.9°F). That's an incredible 3.3°C (5.9 F) above the city's previous all-time high. "You don't break [100-plus-year] records by 3°C," noted Andrew Watkins (@windjunky). An even older all-time high fell at Toowoomba, Queensland, where a maximum of 40.3°C (104.5°F) was the first reading above 40°C (104°F) since records began at Toowoomba way back in 1869. Fire danger across parts of tinder-dry New South Wales has been at near-record levels and bushfires have already swallowed up dozens of homes, with more hot weather returning late this week.
Annotated GOES-16 imagery of the winter storm that pummeled eastern New England and the Canadian Maritimes on Monday, Feb. 13.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Weather Underground.