Harford County residents have been enjoying unseasonably warm temperatures during the past week, and they will be able to enjoy more warm days next week – with occasional rain showers – thanks to this year's strong El Niño climate pattern.
Many people took advantage of the sunny and warm weather this week, as they could be seen visiting the King and Queen Seat rock formation in Rocks State Park, playing basketball in shorts and T-shirts, or visiting local parks.
"This is the strongest El Niño on record," National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Witt said Thursday morning.
El Niño, a semi-annual climate pattern characterized by warm temperatures from the Pacific Ocean, has been affecting winter weather across the country.
Witt noted El Niño can cause "flip-flop" local weather patterns with extremes of cold and warmth.
"You could see a major storm system come through and then a month later see temperatures 20 degrees above normal," he said.
Witt cited Winter Storm Jonas, which dropped at least 2 feet of snow on Harford County in late January, followed the higher-than-normal late winter temperatures of recent days.
Witt's National Weather Service colleague, meteorologist Isha Renta, said local temperatures are usually in the low 50s in late March, and the lows are in the 30s, but a high-pressure system, dry air and warm conditions are pushing the temperatures above normal.
The temperature reached 78 degrees by 2 p.m. in Bel Air Thursday, with a 50 percent chance of overnight precipitation and lows in the mid-50s forecast by the NWS,
Friday and Saturday are expected to be sunny with high temperatures in the low 60s, followed by rain Saturday night, Sunday and Monday, and then a return to temperatures in the 70s by the middle of next week, according to Renta and the website.
"The temperatures will still be above normal [next week]," Renta said.
Aegis Photo Editor Matt Button contributed to this report.