Bermuda High on the Assist - WNEM TV 5

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Bermuda High on the Assist

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Diagram of Bermuda High and Upper-Level Low, week of March 7, 2016 Diagram of Bermuda High and Upper-Level Low, week of March 7, 2016

March never fails to be a month that offers up wild swings in weather, across the Great Lakes and the nation at large. Everything from extreme winter storms that bring heavy snow, ice, and punishing winds to severe weather, heavy rain, or sunshine and all of the wild temperatures swings that come with them. So far, March 2016 has been no different here in Mid-Michigan.

May-like Warmth in March!

In a week, we went from a snowstorm that dropped a foot or more of snow on us, to temperatures that were 30 degrees above average. Highs in the 60s and 70s were a common sight from Monday to Wednesday, and similar reading remain in the forecast for roughly the next week. A number of factors had to come together to make this work, and one of them is a player more often involved in hurricane activity during the summer months.

The Bermuda High

A feature known as the Bermuda High set up shop off the Southeast coast early in the week, and remains in place at the present time. Despite the special name, there is nothing dynamically different between the Bermuda high and an average high-pressure system. Both are large regions of sinking air which promote fair weather, rotating in a clockwise fashion.

What makes the Bermuda High special is that is tends to be a semi-permanent fixture that usually sets up in the summer months over the Atlantic Ocean near the island of Bermuda. Like most other weather systems on Earth, it sometimes moves or dissipates, but it eventually reappears in that general area. The clockwise circulation around the high tends to push warm, tropical air inland across the southeastern United States, and is usually a major player in the steering of hurricanes.

In the past week, the Bermuda High has set up shop and played a hand in pulling a large amount of tropical into the United States, but has not acted alone.

Opponents Teaming Up

Working together with a powerful low pressure system in the upper levels of the atmosphere over northern Mexico, the Bermuda High helped to create a sort of bottleneck across the eastern and southern United States. The clockwise wind flow around the high and the counterclockwise flow around the low essentially magnified one another, tapping in to a tremendous reservoir of warm, tropical air from the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and Atlantic Ocean.

Think of the two systems coming together to form a sump pump of sorts, pumping warm, humid air out of the "basement" of the tropics.

All of the air was able to spill over the majority of the eastern United States, and found its way to us here in the Great Lakes. On days when we should have only seen the mercury climb to about 40 degrees, we instead surged to the upper 60s and low 70s. This pattern will tend to flatten out a bit in the coming days, so we won't quite see the same degree of mild weather. That said though, we're still looking at a good stretch of above-average temperatures to come.

Impacts Down the Road?

Long range impacts from the Bermuda High are impossible to say with any sort of certainty. Even though it can linger for long periods of time, this is by no means a guarantee. We can say this, though: if this feature were to set up and sit for a while during the summer months along with a similar pattern to what we have seen this week, it could lead to a stretch of very hot and humid weather in the same manner it pushed our temperatures well above March averages.

It will be something to watch out for, but we won't know what effects it could have here in Mid-Michigan this summer until we get closer.

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