February 22, 2023

Thursday Could Be One Of The Southeast's Hottest February Days On Record

The winter that's barely wintered rolls on across the southeastern U.S. this week as a ridge over the eastern half of the country threatens all-time monthly records on Thursday.

February 23, 2023, could be the hottest February day ever recorded for multiple cities from the Gulf to the Chesapeake, with predicted high temperatures in the low 80s more common of late spring than late winter.

A highly amplified pattern over North America gave rise to a significant winter storm plaguing folks across much of the northern U.S. and Canada, with a widespread blizzard ongoing in the Upper Midwest while a major ice storm looms for folks near Toronto.

The East Coast drew the long stick on this setup—as we have for most of the season—coming in on the warm side of the equation. A big upper-level ridge will combine with blustery southerly winds feeding into that winter storm to send temperatures to levels almost unheard of in February.

Here's a peek at the National Weather Service's predicted highs for Thursday afternoon:

That's pretty darn warm! The average high in Birmingham, Alabama, doesn't reach 80°F until about May 5, and the average high doesn't climb to 80°F in Greensboro until June 1st. 

(*Note: The temperatures on my map don't line up perfectly with the National Weather Service's point forecast because of the pixel-based process I use to add temperature labels to my map.)

It's so unusually warm that we're on the cusp of breaking all-time monthly heat records across the southeastern states.

Based on current forecasts, Birmingham, Charlotte, and Charlottesville all stand to break their all-time February temperature records, with cities from Mobile to Baltimore coming awfully close to shattering their respective records.

If breaking yet another round of all-time temperature records sounds familiar...it is. Many of these records have only stood for a couple of years, as late-winter warm spells in 2017, 2018, and 2019 each shattered all-time monthly records of their own. 

This follows an overall trend in heat records vastly outnumbering cold records as the climate warms. Average temperatures are on the rise across the United States, and the greatest warming trends have been observed during the winter months, according to Climate Central.

Thursday's predicted temperatures are all 20+ degrees above normal for this time of year.

[Top Image: Tropical Tidbits]

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.