Winter warmup: State could see record high temps this weekend

DOVER — Warmer weather that is forecast for this weekend will offer Delawareans a chance to open the windows, get outside for a little bit of recreation and, basically, just enjoy a very early taste of spring.

Jonathan O’Brien, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, New Jersey, said the First State could see record high temperatures by the end of the day on Sunday.

“It’s going to be pretty exceptional for this time of year,” Mr. O’Brien said. “That’s the thing about warm weather this time of year. Every winter it seems that we get a couple of days like this where the weather warms up before the next round of colder weather arrives.”

Temperatures began to creep up on Friday in Kent and Sussex counties, hitting the mid-50s.

Mr. O’Brien and the NWS is calling for temperatures to reach a high of around 66 today, with a south wind blowing from 11 to 17 mph and gusts as high as 29 mph. They are expecting patchy fog tonight with thunderstorms possible after 4 a.m. and a low around 60. The chance of precipitation is 50 percent.

Sunday’s forecast is calling for showers likely (60 percent) and possibly a thunderstorm. It will be partly sunny in the day with a high near 69 degrees. It will also be breezy, with a west wind from 10 to 20 mph with gusts as high as 32 mph.

Mr. O’Brien said the normal high temperature for Delaware this time of year is “right around 40 degrees,” and added the record high for Wilmington on today’s date is 66 degrees. The record high temp for Sunday in Wilmington is 68 and the NWS is forecasting 68 degrees.

The warmest day on record in January in Delaware occurred on Jan. 23, 1999, when the temperatures reached 73.4 degrees. Conversely, the coldest day in the first month of the year was -4.9 degrees, on Jan. 21, 1985.

Those wild variances in temperatures make it easy to see why Delawareans are looking forward to the taste of spring – at least for a couple of days.

“I’m absolutely looking forward to the continued warm weather this weekend,” said Tamra Price-Callaway, of Magnolia. “It’s going to be a great weekend to spring clean and open the windows before the cold air returns. Also, my husband has a chance to try out his new golf clubs.”

Greg Buchman, of Dover, has some different goals. He’s ready to pull his Harley-Davidson motorcycle out onto the roads and enjoy the ride.

“I’m definitely going to be riding my bike,” he said. “This warmer weekend weather is right on time. It’ll also give me a chance to barbecue some steaks and I’m sure I’ll find something else to do to fill in the rest.”

Clayton’s Angie Farrow is a traffic flagger and she said she’ll be ready for the weekend warmup.

“I love this type of weather,” Ms. Farrow said. “I may have to flag (today). I’m on call. You better believe I am hoping to get out and enjoy the weather before I watch my San Francisco 49ers win in their playoff game later in the afternoon.”

Mr. O’Brien said there is a reason for the warmup and spring-like temperatures are not here to stay.

“It all comes down to the upper air pattern in the atmosphere,” he said. “We are seeing a big dome of high pressure over the East Coast, combined with low pressure to the west, that will funnel much warmer than normal air up the East Coast. This creates a southernly wind flow.”

It will also create a nice chance to escape the winter doldrums — well, at least for a couple of days.