The jet stream is reconfiguring itself across the U.S. as we head into Easter weekend, providing a variety of weather changes from coast to coast into next week.
For the past several weeks, a southward dip in the jet stream has set up over the West before punching eastward into the Plains, Midwest and East, triggering a series of deadly severe weather outbreaks in the central U.S. At the same time, high pressure remained parked over the Southeast and provided a taste of summer to Florida and the Gulf Coast.
That stubborn pattern is finally changing, with a northward bulge in the jet stream – an upper-level area of high pressure – building across the West and bringing a temporary end to the parade of storms that has relentlessly targeted California and the Pacific Northwest.
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Here’s what this change in the jet stream pattern means for the nation’s weather for Easter weekend and into next week.
Break from severe weather
Following a severe weather outbreak in the Midwest and South that killed at least six people earlier this week, the forecast for the next several days should provide a welcome sigh of relief for millions of Americans.
The threat of severe weather and tornadoes is expected to remain low from Friday through the weekend and into much of next week.
According to the FOX Forecast Center, the four-day period from March 18-21 was the last time the U.S. had a multiday stretch without severe storms in the forecast.
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If current outlooks verify, this stretch could last at least seven days from Friday through Thursday of next week. This would be unusual for April, which kicks off the most active three-month period for tornadoes.
Break from snow in West, Plains
California’s snowpack is officially the greatest on record statewide, according to the California Department of Water Resources (DWR), so it’s probably not an understatement to say that snow-fatigue has officially set in.
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The Golden State’s snowpack was measured at a whopping 237% of average on April 1. Only the winters of 1983, 1969 and 1952 recorded a snowpack that was more than 200% averaged across California.
Additionally, a record-setting blizzard buried the northern Plains under feet of snow earlier this week. In Casper, Wyoming, it was the largest snowstorm on record with an astounding 37.4 inches of snow piling up between April 3 and 4. On April 3 alone, 26.7 inches was measured in Casper, also a record for its single snowiest calendar day.
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The weather pattern change means these regions will get a much-deserved break from the relentless snow.
Most places from the West to the northern Plains, Upper Midwest and northern Great Lakes are predicted to see little to no snow through Easter weekend and into at least early next week.
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Soggy, chilly Southeast with drought relief for Florida
A stalled-out cold front across the Southeast will lead to a period of soggy, chilly weather through Easter Sunday. This comes after several days of summerlike heat with temperatures in the upper 80s and lower 90s earlier this week.
The rain and thunderstorms are expected to impact Masters Tournament in Augusta, Georgia, this weekend, which could end up as one of the wettest on record. If play gets suspended and the tournament is forced to finish on Monday, it would be the first time the Masters finishes on a Monday in 40 years.
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Another ingredient adding to the Easter weekend misery in the Southeast will be the chilly temperatures. Cities from Virginia to the Carolinas to Georgia will be stuck in the 40s and 50s on Saturday after temperatures climbed into the upper 80s and lower 90s during the first half of the workweek.
Florida will see some good news out of this wet pattern. The state has slipped into its worst drought since 2012, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, with more than 50% of the state experiencing severe drought conditions.
Major warmup for central, eastern US after Easter
As the jet stream continues to reconfigure itself into early next week, a dome of high pressure is expected to develop across the central and eastern U.S. That will allow much warmer air to infiltrate areas east of the Rockies, leading to what could be a taste of summerlike warmth by the middle or end of next week.
Temperatures could climb into the 80s as far north as southern New England later next week, with 70s likely all the way into parts of northern New England.
However, that means the West will cool down again, especially the Pacific Northwest, where NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecasts the highest likelihood of below-average temperatures next week.