As we wrap up April and head into May, a pattern change in the atmosphere is about to bring not just a tease of warmth, but finally some longer-lasting warm temperatures for most of the eastern two-thirds of the nation.
Parts of the Great Lakes and Northeast must be giving this news a standing ovation. Consider what we've seen the last week or so.
Buffalo, New York: Flakes of snow fell three straight days from April 22-24. Highs in the 40s or colder all but two days from April 22-27.
Marquette, Michigan: High of 26 degrees on April 22 was their coldest high so late in the season, dating to 1961.
Bessemer, Michigan: One foot of snow April 22-23.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: A dusting of snow on the morning of April 25.
Flurries even flew for a couple of hours in Chicago last Wednesday.
Alright, enough cold talk. Let's bring in the good news.
Flatter Jet = Higher Temps
The warm-up is already underway in the Northeast and Great Lakes, as the stubborn, deep pocket of cold air aloft that had been plaguing the region for days shifts farther into the north Atlantic Ocean.
(INTERACTIVE: Your Current Temperatures)
Expect more highs in the 60s and a few 70s over much of the Great Lakes and Northeast. The only exceptions in the Great Lakes will be in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and along the lakeshore in areas of onshore wind flow, which will hold temperatures down.
In the Northeast, a coastal storm may stay far enough offshore to avoid soaking the seaboard late this week. However, east to northeast winds blowing off the chilly water will keep temperatures down near the coast.
(MAPS: 10-day forecast highs)
Once that system exits, the long-awaited warmer pattern change sets in.
Instead of taking a sharp southward dip in the eastern U.S., the polar jet stream will flatten out, tracking more west-to-east across the northern Great Lakes, eastern Canada and northern New England early next week.
This will allow the warmth festering in the Plains to finally spread into the East and stay awhile.
By Sunday, we should see highs back in the 70s in New York City and Boston may finally see their first 70s of the year on Monday. In fact, 70s could push into northern Maine, while 80s may flirt with Philadelphia.
A mid-week cold front and its attendant thunderstorms may take the top off those temperatures, but nothing like the chilly 40s and wet snow some saw over the past week.
In the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes, the warm-up kicks into high gear Friday. Parts of Lower Michigan and Wisconsin may reach the 70-degree mark Friday.
With winds finally blowing from a southerly direction, highs this weekend should vault into the 70s in Chicago. Seventies are also likely in the U.P. of Michigan and northern Minnesota, while 80s are possible as far north as the Twin Cities and Fargo, North Dakota.
Yes, there will be a cold front dropping into the region, then stalling, early next week, with a threat of thunderstorms, but the air mass behind the cold front won't be nearly as cold as we've seen recently.
(MAPS: 7-day Rain Forecast)
If you've been itching to get your spring planting underway, it appears morning low temperatures should largely remain above freezing in most spots from late this week into much of next week in the eastern two-thirds of the country.
(MAPS: 10-day forecast lows)
Of course, this doesn't rule out another stubbornly cold period later in May. However, at least for the first week or so of the month, it appears the cold-weary Great Lakes and Northeast can enjoy spring's warm embrace.
We'll leave you with one final factoid that should warm your heart.
A cooperative observer near Eastport, Maine, finally reported only a trace of snow left on the ground Sunday. On February 17, that same observer reported 78.5 inches of snow - over 6.5 feet - on the ground. For the season, Eastport measured 183.2 inches - over 15 feet - of snow.
Now it's gone. Goodbye, winter 2014-2015.