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Winter isn’t over

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Disagreeing with a groundhog is not a popular thing to do, especially when the little rodent predicts an early spring just a few days after a brutal Arctic blast the way Punxsutawney Phil did on Saturday. However, I’ve never really been concerned about popularity, and I prefer my weather forecasts grounded in science as opposed to random rodent lore.

While you can definitely count this week’s weather as spring-like, it’s just part of the natural roller coaster ride that is central North Carolina winter. Our geographic location allows us to experience wild swings between unseasonable warmups and bitter Arctic cold, which is a blessing and a curse depending on whom you ask. Personally, I count the warmups as a blessing, but I recognize that snow lovers aren’t fans.

The temperatures will trend back toward normal this weekend with morning lows in the 30s and afternoon highs in the lower 50s. By mid-February, it looks like we could see the polar vortex weaken again and allow another Arctic air mass to head our way.

We can expect the moderate peaks and dramatic valleys so common with the roller coaster through at least early March, and that wavy nature of our winter temperatures really is normal. Anyone who has lived here for more than a few years will recall 70-plus degree days in January and February and ice storms in early March.

I’ll allow Phil fans to claim victory this week if they really feel the need because it won’t be long before Mother Nature brings them back to reality.

February 2018 temp graph

Graph credit: weather.gov. This graph shows the range of daily temperatures recorded in February 2018 at RDU International Airport. Notice the ups and downs from day to day with some afternoon highs in the 40s and others in the 70s.