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Finally, warmer weather

The snow won't be here for long. A long-awaited warmup is on the way and spring is just around the corner.

Though it is still not warm, it is at least warmer.

Following relentless shots of record cold in December, January and now early February, a much-anticipated warm-up is coming to much of the eastern two-thirds of the country over the next week or so.

Temperatures in a few areas are set to jump as much as 90 or 100 degrees from this week’s frigid levels. In the process, much of the nation’s snowcover will be wiped out toward the end of next week.

As of Feb. 10, 2011, roughly 65% of the contiguous U.S. was covered with snow, according to the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. Also, 49 of 50 states had snow on the ground Thursday and Friday morning. This includes even Hawaii, with some snow atop Mauna Kea. The only state without any snow on the ground was Florida.

AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity expects the warm-up to reduce the nation’s snowcover to about 25% toward the end of next week. Areas where it will likely be wiped out include the southern and central Plains, interior Southeast, Ohio Valley and parts of the mid-Atlantic.

Temperatures are already starting to rebound across the Plains, after some of the coldest air on record invaded parts of the region Thursday.

Bartlesville, Okla., is expected to hit a high in the upper 30s today, which will be more than 60 degrees warmer than their low of 28° below zero F Thursday morning. Toward the end of next week, temperatures in this same area could make a run for the 70° mark, which would be nearly a 100-degree jump from Thursday’s low.

Temperatures in Dallas and Houston will rise into the 60s this weekend and 70s next week. By the end of this weekend, people from New Orleans to Atlanta, Charlotte and Richmond, will see highs rise back into the 60s. Temperatures in some of these same places will also hit 70° late next week or next weekend.

Temperatures will also moderate in areas farther north through the Midwest, mid-Atlantic and Northeast. However, in areas that still have a good deal of snow and ice on the ground, the warming will take longer to kick in.

Highs at least in the 50s are forecast for New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Kansas City late next week. Some of these cities will end up in the 60s.

A break in the overall weather pattern that has kept the eastern two-thirds of the country colder than normal the last couple of months is allowing the warm-up to occur.

The jet stream, an area of strong winds high above the ground that acts as a barrier between cold air to its north and warmer air to its south, is shifting farther north across the eastern part of the U.S.

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