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Warmth records falling across Northeast, Midwest

Two-thirds of the United States will be enjoying unseasonably warm weather Tuesday. TODAY's Al Roker looks at what's behind this late-winter warm spell.

Expect records for high temps to be broken all week across the Northeast and Midwest, a rare event given that we're still in winter.

"We may be seeing about a week where we are going to be possibly breaking or at least coming close to temperature records," said National Weather Service meteorologist Byron Paulson.

It is not unusual to see record high temperatures for a day or two in March, but a week is rare, he said.

"The jet stream, which would normally be cutting across the middle of the country, is way up north into Canada" and keeping the cold weather there, said NBC TODAY show weather anchor Al Roker, leading to warm weather in the U.S.

Forecasts called for records or near-record highs on Wednesday and Thursday in the mid to upper 70s in Chicago. The warmth also brought the threat of thunderstorms to the Chicago area.

In North Dakota and South Dakota, warm and windy conditions prompted widespread warnings that wildfire conditions were ripe for explosive growth if blazes are ignited.

National Climatic Data Service

Yesterday, temperatures soared to record highs in the Northeast.

In Boston, temperatures reached a record 71 degrees Monday afternoon -- eclipsing the former high of 69 degrees for a March 12 set 110 years ago.

The unseasonably warm weather was expected to continue in Boston throughout the week, but likely not with record-setting temperatures, said Bill Simpson, a weather service meteorologist based in Taunton, Mass.

Temperatures also soared Monday afternoon in New York City to 71 degrees in Central Park, tying the record that dates back to 1890, weather.com reported.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP

A woman runs past budding cherry blossom trees along the tidal basin in Washington, D.C., on Monday.

Among the 102 high-temp records broken on Monday were those in Albany, N.Y., Bridgeport, Conn., Buffalo, N.Y., Burlington, Vt., and Newark, N.J. 

St Louis, Mo., tied its record at 84 degrees, while Saline and Russell, both in Kansas, posted record 83 degrees.

In Washington, D.C., above-average temperatures meant cherry trees started blossoming sooner than expected ahead of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which begins on March 20. Florets were extending on Monday, but peak bloom is expected to fall some time from March 24 to 28, still within the original forecast.

Minnesotans accustomed to mid-March snowstorms instead basked in record-high temperatures in the mid-60s last weekend and more records might fall there under an unprecedented, extended warm front.

The high temperature reached 66 degrees on Saturday and Sunday in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, topping previous records for those dates set in 1878 and 1902, respectively, in records that run back to 1871.

Temperatures could reach close to a record on Tuesday and into the 70s on Wednesday, about 30 degrees above normal, Paulson said. Temperatures were also forecast to reach from the mid-60s into the 70s the rest of the week, he said.

Record high temperature were recorded across the upper Midwest over the weekend with temperatures punching into the 70s in Bismarck, N.D., and across southern Minnesota and eastern Wisconsin.

Reuters contributed to this report.