ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) — The feel of Spring was in the air on this mild, February day as temperatures this afternoon climbed into the 50s across Western New York for the first time since Christmas Eve.
Many of us saw temperatures in the lower 50s while Dansville, just 55 miles south of Rochester made it to 60° among a few others!
What’s impressive out of all of this is how warm we were able to get despite how cold we’ve been over the last couple weeks, and despite our decent snowpack on the ground. Snowpack often helps mediate our temperatures in the winter by reflecting solar insolation away from the surface, which limits how warm we get during the day.
So, how were we able to get so warm?
The advection, or movement of warm air into an area can play a big role in temperatures, and it sure did that this afternoon. Often times out ahead of a front the temperatures way above the surface become warmer more quickly, and if winds are strong enough aloft they can help mix this warmer air down towards the surface.
This was the case today as we had a strong, low level jet moving in overhead with winds a couple thousand feet or so in the air around 40 knots, or 45 mph. This was able to mix down due to a decent window of sunshine that was already helping the warming process along, and why we had the potential for wind gusts around 40+ mph and wind advisories in place. These strong winds were enough to negate the effect that albedo plays in reflecting warmer temperatures away from the surface, and essentially making that bubble of colder air that sits right above the snowpack nonexistent.
Downsloping of the winds as air travels over higher terrain to lower terrain can help warm temperatures even further. This is because as air sinks, it warms due to a process known as adiabatic warming. As air travels from lower pressure to higher pressure the air contracts, and this compression of the air warms it, therefore warming the temperatures.
All in all, it was the combination of warm sunshine, the warmer air moving in aloft, and the mixing of this warmer air down to the surface by these strong winds that helped us feel a little bit more like spring than winter today. Whether you enjoyed this brief warm up or not, temperatures will be a bit of a rollercoaster as we end our last week in February.
What’s next in the forecast this week? Get the latest updates HERE.
~Meteorologist Christine Gregory