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Weather: March meltdown, record highs?

This year's mud season starts early in Colorado.

Storm possible this coming weekend in the Colorado high country

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The early March meltdown will continue through much of the week, with temperatures running anywhere from 5 to 10 degrees above average for this time of year, with highs reaching levels more often seen in mid- to late-April.

For the next few days, expect temps in the 50s at valley locations in the central Colorado mountains, with temps at the higher elevations in the 30s and 40s. By mid-week, temperatures in Summit County could be flirting with record highs, which are in the upper 50s for this time of year in Frisco.

A big storm that will pound the Sierra Nevada and the rest of California will move inland weekend, bringing the potential for some snow starting Sunday and into the first part of next week, but the long-range forecast is still far from certain, as some models take the storm south of the Colorado mountains.

Much of the country is experiencing well above-average warmth for this time of year, continuing a winter-long trend of warm weather. The nation’s hotspot Monday was Sarasota, Florida, reaching 83 degrees, with the coldest reading dropping only to 13 degrees, in Mullan Pass, Idaho. Overall, the December to February period is the fourth-warmest on record for the contiguous 48 states.

Across Colorado, Monday’s highs climbed all the way into the 70s on the eastern plains, and reached the low 50s in Breckenridge and Silverthorne. Even high elevation stations like Loveland Pass and Berthoud Pass were reporting temps right around freezing Monday afternoon.

A NOAA weather map shows above-average temperatures widespread across the U.S. in January, a trend that has persisted most of the winter.

Across the country, the winter of 2011-2012 brought one of the lowest snow cover extents on record, especially in the Northeast and the Sierra Nevada of California.

A snow-depth graphic from March 12 shows how far north the snow cover has retreated. Click on the map to see an animated version.

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