Looks like the Ground Hog knew something after all. Old Punxsutawney Phil said winter would end early, and the coming week is going to be the warmest in quite a while.

The fabled January Thaw didn't happen this year, but it's coming now. When the jet stream shifts north, it gets warmer, and that will happen next week. By next Tuesday and Wednesday, a very sizable portion of the Central and Eastern states will be enjoying temperatures well above normal. It will get to the 50s as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania, 60s will show up in the mid-Mississippi Valley, and the southern Great Plains can expect highs in the 70s.

Just think, in Bartlesville, Okla., the low temperature early Thursday was 29 below zero. Next Wednesday, that town will have highs in the upper 60s.

So how long will the thaw last? Across the North, probably not very. It's not often that winter packs up and leaves for good during the middle of February north of 40 degrees. That being said, the atmosphere may have a tough time bringing more piercing cold into the Southern states for the rest of the winter season.

In any case, the bottom line is that a major thaw is coming next week with temperatures reaching their highest levels of the winter in many places.

Furthermore, the deep snow cover across the Midwest and Northeast will take a big hit. The snow would melt even faster if the air were to become increasingly moist. Here's why: During a winter mild spell, snow will melt more quickly when the air is humid, rather than dry. In a dry air mass, evaporation of moisture off the snow surface uses up heat, which keeps the snow cooler. When it is humid, or even foggy, the rate of evaporational cooling is greatly reduced, and snow melts quickly.

Story by AccuWeather.com Senior Meteo Weather Headlines Thu, 10 Feb 2011 15:18:34 EST IWS0 Thu, 10 Feb 2011 13:58:06 EST Kocet's Corner The fabled January Thaw didn't happen this year, but it's coming now. When the jet stream shifts north, it gets warmer, and that will happen next week. By next Tuesday and Wednesday, a very sizable portion of the Central and Eastern states will be enjoying temperatures well above normal. It will get to the 50s as far north as Ohio and Pennsylvania, 60s will show up in the mid-Mississippi Valley, and the southern Great Plains can expect highs in the 70s.

Just think, in Bartlesville, Okla., the low temperature early Thursday was 29 below zero. Next Wednesday, that town will have highs in the upper 60s.

So how long will the thaw last? Across the North, probably not very. It's not often that winter packs up and leaves for good during the middle of February north of 40 degrees. That being said, the atmosphere may have a tough time bringing more piercing cold into the Southern states for the rest of the winter season.

In any case, the bottom line is that a major thaw is coming next week with temperatures reaching their highest levels of the winter in many places.

Furthermore, the deep snow cover across the Midwest and Northeast will take a big hit. The snow would melt even faster if the air were to become increasingly moist. Here's why: During a winter mild spell, snow will melt more quickly when the air is humid, rather than dry. In a dry air mass, evaporation of moisture off the snow surface uses up heat, which keeps the snow cooler. When it is humid, or even foggy, the rate of evaporational cooling is greatly reduced, and snow melts quickly.

Story by AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist John Kocet.