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Record temperatures have Prairies warmer than Mexico

Digital writers

Friday, January 19, 2018, 7:26 AM - This weekend across the Prairies will feature a much warmer pattern than the dangerously cold temperatures (with wind chills into the -40s) that were felt across the region last weekend. 

The warm up started Wednesday with parts of Alberta recording warmer morning temperatures than northern Florida. The city of Calgary for example, started off Wednesday above the freezing mark, while Pensacola, Florida was sitting around -3oC with snow flurries reported. On Thursday, Medicine Hat, Alberta was sitting at 5oC as Orlando, Florida started the day at -1oC. 

By Thursday afternoon, parts of Saskatchewan felt the warmth with temperatures reaching the double digits in communities like Maple Creek. The city of Moose Jaw saw a daytime high well above seasonal values at 8.4oC.

"Which by the way, was warmer than Monterrey, Mexico at 6 p.m. local time on Thursday!" says Weather Network meteorologist Brett Soderholm. 

Warm Pacific air pushing in across the Rockies is the influence of these milder temperatures. Meanwhile, a deep trough in the jet stream near Florida is allowing air to be pulled in from the arctic.

"We have an arctic air mass being modified as it heads down towards Florida and our surface high pressure system, the arctic high, is down towards Texas and that's helping to drive these cold temperatures into Florida," says Erin Wenckstern, another meteorologist at The Weather Network. 

The warmth will continue to stretch across Manitoba Friday, remaining above seasonal in much of Alberta and Saskatchewan. The city of Winnipeg, Manitoba is in line to break a nearly 80 year old record for January 19th, with a daytime high of 6oC forecast. The previous record of 4.4oC was set back in 1942. In northern Manitoba, a clipper system will bring a general swath of 5-10 cm of snow to the region. 

Cancel your trip down south?

If temperatures are currently warmer across the southern Prairies than they are in Florida and even Mexico, you should probably just go ahead and cancel that trip down south right? Not quite. 

"Conditions will continue to be mild through the weekend, but a return to a colder pattern is expected for early and into the middle of next week," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham. 

January thaws are temporary, just as arctic outbreaks into Florida are temporary as well. 

By next week, things will go back to "the way they're supposed to be," Gillhams says, adding that the arctic air will return to the Prairies with Winnipeg, Manitoba for example, seeing temperatures dip back to -12oC, feeling closer to the -20s with the wind chill. 

Florida steam devils appear

Residents in Florida and Alabama shared video showing "sea smoke" or steam-devils, over the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday as temperatures dropped to the freezing mark. The phenomenon caused by cold air rolling over warm water is a common sight on the Great Lakes in the winter, but is rarely seen on the Gulf of Mexico.

Watch below: What is a steam-devil and why do they form?

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