Following relentless shots of record cold in December, January and now early February, a much-anticipated warm-up is coming to much of the country over the next week or so.
Temperatures in a few areas are set to jump as much as 90 or 100 degrees from the past week's frigid levels.
In the process, much of the nation's snowcover will be wiped out toward the end of the week.
As of Feb. 10, 2011, roughly 65 percent of the contiguous U.S. was covered with snow, according to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center.
Also, 49 of 50 states had snow on the ground Thursday and Friday morning. This includes even Hawaii, with some snow atop Mauna Kea. The only state without any snow on the ground was Florida.
AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity expects the warm-up to reduce the nation's snowcover to about 25 percent toward the end of next week. Areas where it will likely be wiped out include the southern and central Plains, interior Southeast, Ohio Valley and parts of the mid-Atlantic.
Why the Change?
A break in the overall weather pattern that has kept the eastern two-thirds of the country colder than normal the last couple of months is allowing the warm-up to occur.
The jet stream, an area of strong winds high above the ground that acts as a barrier between cold air to its north and warmer air to its south, is shifting farther north across the eastern part of the U.S.
As a result, milder air will continue surging into the Plains this weekend. While temperatures will also rebound across parts of the East over the next couple of days, it will not be until later next week that the warm-up becomes significant.