Jeff Masters, in a post two days ago, noted that the temperature in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, went from -28 F on 10 February to 82 F on 17 February, a swing of 110 degrees within a week.
A 100+ degree temperature change in just six days is a phenomenally rare event. I checked the records for over twenty major cities in the Midwest in Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, and Montana, and could not find any examples of a 100-degree temperature swing in so short a period of time. The closest I came was a 108° swing in temperature in fourteen days at Valentine, Nebraska, from -27°F on March 11, 1998 to 82°F on March 25, 1998. Valentine also had a 105°F temperature swing in fifteen days from November 29, 1901 (71°F) to December 14, 1901 (-34°F.) Our weather historian, Christopher C. Burt, lists the world record for fastest 24-hour change in temperature as the 103°F warm-up from -54° to 49° that occurred on January 14 – 15, 1972, during a chinook wind in Lowe, Montana. This week’s remarkable roller coaster ride of temperatures in Oklahoma is truly a remarkable event that has few parallels in recorded history.
Meanwhile, further north…
January 2011 Northern Hemisphere sea ice extent was the lowest on record in January, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center. This was the second consecutive month of record low extent. Satellite records extend back to 1979. The area of missing ice was about twice the size of Texas, or 60% the size of the Mediterranean Sea. Ice was notably absent in Northeast Canada and Western Greenland, and Hudson Bay did not freeze over until mid-January, more than a month later than usual. This was the latest freeze-up on record, and led to record warmth over much of Northeast Canada.