March 12, 2012 / 9:50 PM / 6 years ago

Northeast, Midwest see record high temperatures

MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) - Temperatures soared to record highs in the Northeast on Monday after a weekend of record-setting warmth across the Upper Plains and forecasts for an unprecedented extended warm front this week, the National Weather Service said.

In Boston, temperatures reached a record 71 degrees Monday afternoon, eclipsing the former high of 69 degrees for this date set 110 years ago, the weather service said.

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, Massachusetts.

Temperatures also soared Monday afternoon in New York City to near the record 71 degrees in Central Park.

In Washington, above-average temperatures meant cherry trees blossomed sooner than expected ahead of the National Cherry Blossom Festival, one of the biggest U.S. springtime parties, 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 may fall under an unprecedented extended warm front, weather service meteorologist Byron Paulson said.

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 climate records that run back to 1871.

Record high temperature were recorded across the upper Midwest over the weekend with temperatures punching into the 70s in Bismarck, North Dakota, and across southern Minnesota and eastern Wisconsin, according to the weather service.

Cloud cover left high temperatures in the lower 50s in the Minneapolis and St. Paul metropolitan area on Monday, but they were expected to snap back quickly, Paulson said.

“We may be seeing about a week where we are going to be possibly breaking or at least coming close to temperature records,” Paulson said.

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

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.

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

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

Additional reporting by Lauren Keiper in Boston and Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Daniel Trotta

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