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Can this really be February?

Can this really be February?

More spring-like temperatures headed to region
Can this really be February?
Dante' Myers gets ready to cover a rear wiper blade for a customer at State Street Car Wash in Schenectady on Tuesday, Feb. 21.
Photographer: MARC SCHULTZ

You don't expect lines at the car wash in February; it's just too cold, even if there's winter road grime all over the car.

It's been different in recent days, and more spring-like temperatures are headed to the region.

Queues outside car washes have been a daily occurrence since last weekend, when temperatures rose high enough to provoke thoughts of soaping the chariot.

Only a week ago the Capital Region had back-to-back Nor'easter storms that brought 20 inches of snow to the area. That nearly two feet of snow will be severely depleted, if not gone, by Sunday, with temperatures continuing to feel spring-like.

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If forecasts prove accurate, this month will fall among Albany's top 10 warmest Februarys on record, said National Weather Service meteorologist Jennifer Vogt-Miller.

So far, the average high this month has been 36 degrees Fahrenheit, compared with a historic average of 34.6 degrees, she said. The average low this month has been 21, or 4 degrees above the historic average low.

"The next week looks well above average," Vogt-Miller said. "Thursday will be in the upper 50s, which is 20 degrees above average."

A strong mass of warm air from the Southeast could bring record temperatures -- heat that could pass for May or June in Albany -- to Washington, Philadelphia and New York City, though the Albany region's temperatures will probably fall short of any records.

Today, look for upper 40s. Then, Thursday through Saturday, local temperatures are predicted to be in the mid- to upper-50s -- the kind of readings not usually seen until April.

The record high for Thursday in Albany is 62.

"We're forecasting a high of the upper 50s to 60, so it's going to be close," said National Weather Service meteorologist Steve DiRienzo. "We have a chance on Thursday, but it depends on the amount of sunshine. With sunshine, temperatures go higher."

The current forecast is for a mostly overcast Thursday.

Regardless of whether records are set, it's going to be unusually warm for the next few days -- and that fits into the pattern the region has felt all winter. It's the same pattern that brought a series of moisture-laden Pacific storms to California, causing widespread flooding. A side effect of those storms has been a flood of warm southern air into the Northeast.

"It's almost like gravity; what comes up must come down," DIRienzo said.

Overall, this winter has been characterized by periods of above-freezing temperatures mixed with streaks of cold, and a pattern of small amounts of snow over a long period of time.

"It's been interesting," DiRienzo said. "There was snow in October, snow before Thanksgiving, on Thanksgiving Day, then through December and January, but never more than 3 or 4 inches, until last week."

Last week's storms were both coastal Nor'easters, he said, whereas the majority of snow this winter has been from storms that tracked up the St. Lawrence Valley with relatively little moisture -- and with the Capital Region on their southern fringes.

Meteorologists had expected upstate drought conditions to continue into the winter, but since Dec. 1, the region has received the equivalent of 7.02 inches of rain -- just about what it would receive up to now in an average winter.

"The mountains have had snow all winter, and it's been cold enough (for ski areas) to make snow. A concern would be these warm temperatures in the mountains melting the snow and causing flooding," DiRienzo said.

The temperature roller-coaster is likely to continue into March across the East, with cold shots and surges of warm air, said Accuweather meteorologist Kyle Elliot.

“Temperatures can change by 50 degrees or more over a two- or three-day stretch fairly often during March,” Elliot said.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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