Quickly crunching some numbers on this Sunday evening, it appears that Roanoke is likely to record its second warmest winter for the 101 years of its official weather records — trailing only 1931-32, which is in a league of its own for balmy winters, and will remain so by more than 3 degrees — IF temperatures are close to those forecasted by the National Weather Service for Monday through Wednesday. February needs to average at least 43.85 degrees — which rounds up to 43.9 — to pull 2011-12 into at least a tie for second place with 1948-49. (List of 10 warmest winters linked here.) A couple of slightly below-normal temperature days this weekend have pulled the month’s average temperature back down a bit to 43.5 degrees through 26 days. But if the projected high/low of 62/34, 58/38 and 66/43 verify for the last 3 days of meteorological winter (Dec.-Jan.-Feb.), February’s average temperature vaults to 44.2 degrees (which would make for the 7th warmest February!) and the winter’s average finishes at 43.2, one-tenth of a degree above 1948-49. In an odd statistical twist, it could well be the extra day on the calendar — Feb. 29, “leap” day — that makes the difference.
Monday appears dry, but rain and clouds ahead of an advancing warm front could dampen the temperature some on Tuesday. We should be in a stiff southwest flow ahead of a cold front by Wednesday, and much like Thursday and Friday of this past week, that could push the temperatures into the mid 60s or even higher on the last day of February. Wednesday’s front, pulled through by the powerhouse low I wrote about Friday that will tighten in the Nebraska/Iowa area, may provide enough lift for yet more late winter thunderstorms — severe weather will be at least a possibility — but it will not be strong enough to do much to the temperatures behind it. A new low-pressure system forming near the Great Lakes will quickly return winds to the southwest late in the week, and temperatures may make a run at 70 again by Friday. Another cold front gets pulled through over the weekend as that low tracks north and west of us. That may yank some colder air south from Canada for another brief cold (or at least “somewhat colder”) surge, perhaps by Sunday or so. Timing remains a little murky on that.