In the Great Plains and on the East Coast the unseasonably warm weather brought new highs on Tuesday. NBC's Brian Williams reports.
It feels like May in March, and that means plenty of temperature records are being broken this week, including 138 sites across the Midwest and Northeast on Tuesday. Dozens more areas were expected to set records on Wednesday, when temperatures in some places could be 35 degrees above normal.
Records set Tuesday included 85 degrees Fahrenheit in Russell, Kan., 5 degrees warmer than its previous record in 1997 for a March 13, the National Climatic Data Center reported.
St. Louis, Mo., also set a new daily high at 83 degrees, 3 degrees more than in 2007 and the second straight day with a record.
Even Burlington, Vt., got a piece of the action, posting 67 degrees -- 5 degrees higher than its previous record back in 1946.
As for Wednesday, "readings may be as much as 35 degrees above normal," the National Weather Service said in an advisory.
National Climatic Data Center
The service said the warm spell should last into the weekend, while weather.com expected at least 60 cities and towns to post new records on Wednesday.
"It's almost like we skipped winter and now we're going to skip spring too," said Gino Izzi, a senior meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Chicago office.
Izzi said the weather pattern is a random but normal fluctuation. A jet stream moving north to south on the West Coast is pushing an opposite, seesaw effect in the rest of the nation. Atmospheric patterns, including the Pacific phenomenon known as La Nina, have kept cold air bottled up over Canada and contributed to the warmer winter in snow-accustomed parts of the continental U.S.
Tuesday's warm weather raised some concerns, including upping the risk of wildfires. The unusually warm, dry and windy conditions prompted six North Dakota counties to declare fire emergencies and institute burn bans.
In Minnesota, golfers greeted the sunshine at the Eagle Valley Golf Course in suburban St. Paul as it opened Tuesday — weeks earlier than last year.
"We're hoping this is a sign of good things to come," head golf pro Dan Moris said.
In Chicago, the ice rink was empty at iconic Millennium Park.
Nearby, new city residents Katie and Chris Anderson said they were surprised by the weather because of Chicago's legendary cold winters. "I was really nervous about moving here," Katie Anderson said.
"We expected the worst," her husband added.
In downtown Washington, D.C., most of the benches at a local park were filled with people enjoying the weather Tuesday. Taylor Jantz-Sell, a government employee, planned to do some reading.
"This is my favorite time of year, watching the blossoms come out," she said, adding that she had seen daffodils and crocuses, and ran to work Tuesday morning because of the weather.
"It's a sign of good things to come," she said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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