After a record warm February, winter cold is returning

4 min read

Editor’s Note: A version of this article originally appeared in the weekly weather newsletter, the NEWS Weather Brief, which is released every Monday. You can sign up here to receive them every week and during significant storms.


For the last several weeks, high temperatures have been breaking records. Many of you may have kissed winter goodbye and already moved on to spring. But don’t get too used to the warmer weather. We could see a huge shift in temperatures next week, and this one won’t be subtle.

The Climate Prediction Center is calling for below-average temperatures for much of the country beginning this weekend and lasting for much of next week, and possibly beyond.

The cold snap could bring snow as far south as the southern Appalachians next week and bring snow into the mid-Atlantic. There’s even a shot of snow for Washington, DC, where some cherry blossoms around the capital are already blooming. Areas seeing little to no snow this winter could make up for some of the deficit during winter’s final breath.

There may be some potential for some snow. “I’m cautiously optimistic for snow lovers for snow to potentially be across the mid-Atlantic and other areas that haven’t seen really any snow at all,” Jon Gottschalk, Branch Chief at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

While the exact temperatures and impacts are still being fine-tuned, the Climate Prediction Center is calling for the Southeast to feel the pendulum swing the most. They are calling for temperatures to run at least 15 degrees below normal, which comes on the heels of temperatures running 15 to 25 degrees above normal during a record warm February.

Here are a few cities that experienced their top five warmest meteorological winters (December 1, 2022, through February 28, 2023):

  • Tupelo, Mississippi – 1st warmest
  • New York City (Central Park) – 2nd warmest
  • Miami – 2nd warmest
  • Atlanta (Hartsfield International Airport) – 2nd warmest
  • Houston – 2nd warmest
  • Washington, DC – 3rd warmest
  • New Orleans – 3rd warmest
  • Nashville – 4th warmest
  • Boston – 5th warmest
  • Dallas Fort Worth – 5th warmest

The warm weather has reached far and wide this year. Aside from the West, who has been experiencing a historic cold and snowy winter, much of the country has been oddly warm.

“Much of the cold has been kept bottled up in the Arctic for much of this year so far, but that appears to be changing and most people in the US will feel it later this week,” NEWS senior meteorologist Brandon Miller explained. “On the positive side, there just isn’t as cold of air in March left to invade the US and bring too much in the way of a deep freeze, like what we saw in late-December.”

The Tennessee Valley will get hit with a big temperature swing, going from the 80s last week to highs in the 40s next week. We could see several mornings with temperatures below freezing, which is a huge concern for agriculture.

“The main impact that we’re concerned with is the vegetation or potential crop losses, if it does come to fruition, because we do expect freezing temperatures to reach pretty far south,” Gottschalk said.

Rusty Mangrum is one of those farmers. He grows hundreds of thousands of plants every year, including fruit trees at his nursery in McMinnville, Tennessee. His trees, like most in the South and mid-South, already think it’s spring.

“A lot of trees are blooming out because of the warm temperatures,” Mangrum said.

Rusty Mangrum checks on his Red Barron peach trees that are already blooming due to the recent warm temperatures.

He says if the temperature drop does materialize, they have a lot to lose.

“When we get a cold spell below freezing, it will end up killing the blooms, and it won’t produce fruit that year. So, you’ve lost a year’s worth of fruit really,” Mangrum explained.

He said his plants could still produce fruit if the cold snap is short-lived, but if the cold lasts more than a day, it could not only be trouble for the farmers, but for the consumers as well.

Keep up with the latest forecast here

We will keep watching the forecast and the cold weather ahead, but in the meantime, we have a few more days of warm temperatures.

“Highs are expected to soar into the 70s this afternoon as far north as the Ohio Valley, with 80s across the Deep South and southern Plains,” the Weather Prediction Center said. “These warm temperatures could break several daily record highs.”

By midweek, heavy rain will fall across the southern Plains. We could see showers and thunderstorms from North Texas to Arkansas. The rain is expected to linger for much of the week, due to a stalled frontal boundary.

“This will lead to the chances for scattered flash floods, particularly over parts of central/eastern Oklahoma and northwestern Arkansas on Tuesday night,” said the prediction center.

By the latter part of the week, cooler temperatures will settle into the east. Gusty winds will help temperatures feel even cooler, and this should signal a shift to end the record warmth across much of the east.

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