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A major weather pattern change is about to bring a wild swing in temperatures to the US

By Mary Gilbert, CNN Meteorologist

(CNN) — Sick of the cold? Mother Nature has a change in store: A dramatic weather pattern change is coming next week that will flip the brutal cold on its head.

Few spots in the continental US have escaped the cold over the last week. Its wind chills plunged below minus 40 degrees in parts of the central US; it smashed hundreds of temperature records; it produced one of the coldest NFL games on record; and it made for the coldest Iowa caucuses ever held.

But by next week, frigid cold will be a distant memory across the mainland US as unseasonably mild conditions wipe out the chill. In some spots, it’ll feel more like March than January.

Above-average temperatures are forecast for the entire Lower 48 starting Tuesday, according to a temperature outlook from the Climate Prediction Center.

A significant shift in the weather pattern in the upper levels of the atmosphere, where the jet stream flows, is driving this change.

During the ongoing cold pattern, the jet stream – a river of air that acts as a divider between warm and cold air – has been draped across the southern tier of the US. This positioning allows bursts of cold air to race from the Arctic, rush through Canada and barrel deep into the US.

But the jet stream will be positioned farther north across the US next week. This will do two things simultaneously: trap very cold air in Canada and allow warm air from the tropics to surge northward into the US.

The warming trend will begin as early as Sunday for parts of the West and north-central US. Milder conditions will expand in scope and strength across more of the country gradually early next week.

Chicago could finally rise above freezing on Monday. It could be the first time since Saturday afternoon that thermometers in the city eclipse the 32 degree mark.

But the most drastic temperature changes from week-to-week will happen by midweek in the central and eastern US.

Parts of the Plains and Midwest will flip from temperatures 30 to 40 degrees below average last Sunday to temperatures 10 to 20 degrees above average by next Wednesday.

Both Des Moines, Iowa, and Minneapolis will undergo 40- to 50-degree temperature swings from this week’s brutal cold to next week’s unseasonable warmth.

The high temperature in Des Moines on Sunday failed to climb past minus 7 degrees. By next Wednesday, a high in the upper 30s is expected – more akin to March. Minneapolis only hit 2 degrees on Sunday but will surge to a springlike high around 40 degrees next Wednesday.

It will feel more like late February farther east. Highs in the 40s will be common by midweek in Indianapolis, Cleveland, Philadelphia and New York City.

And this above-average warmth is likely to persist through the end of January across much of the country, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN-Weather/Environment

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