Bicyclists and joggers are moving along the Mississippi River trails, golfers are on the links and tennis players have hit the courts.
It’s not an unusual scene for a day in April, or maybe even the middle of March.
But it’s the middle of February in the Quad-Cities and beginning today and lasting through at least Wednesday, the temperatures will feel like April has arrived.
The forecast has allowed Palmer Hills Golf Course in Bettendorf and Duck Creek Golf Course in Davenport to open early.
“We made a decision to invest in cross country skis for this winter,” Palmer Hills golf professional Jon Waddell said Thursday. “Who would have thought we would be renting golf carts in the middle of February. We can use the skis another year.”
Palmer Hills had the driving range open Tuesday and the course opened Thursday, Waddell added.
Tee times at Palmer Hills already are full for Saturday and Sunday, and Monday is filling up quickly, he said.
Matt Hasley, golf professional at Duck Creek, said it is “very rare to open this time of year.”
“We made the decision Monday or Tuesday to open up given the weather forecast,” Hasley said.
About 30 players hit the Duck Creek links Thursday, he said. There also are a lot of people not working Monday, which is Presidents Day.
“It’s like found money,” Hasley said. “You don’t expect to play golf this time of year.”
Meteorologist Mike McClure of the National Weather Service, Davenport, said the jet stream has bottled the Canadian and Arctic cold air well to the north of this portion of the Midwest. That is allowing for the warmer-than-normal temperatures.
The normal high temperature for Feb. 17, as recorded at the Quad-City International Airport, Moline, is 36.2 degrees, according to statistics from the National Weather Service. The normal low is 18.8 degrees.
The high expected today is 66 degrees, a good 30 degrees above normal. The record high for Feb. 17 is 63 degrees, set in 2011, McClure said.
“If we reach 66 degrees, that will shatter the old record,” he said.
The record high for Saturday is 63 degrees, set in 1913. “It’s possible we could hit 63, but some of the models are suggesting a weak cool front slipping into the area in the afternoon, so the timing of that is problematic,” McClure said.
The record high for Sunday is 69 degrees, set in 1930. “That does not look like it’s going to fall at this point, but it’s certainly not out of the realm of possibility,” McClure added. There is warming aloft; the issue is getting it down to our area of the atmosphere, he added.
The record high for Monday is 65 degrees, also set in 1930.
Unseasonable temperatures have caused the city of Bettendorf to temporarily close the new Frozen Landing Ice Rink. It likely will not open any time soon. McClure said the eight- to 14-day outlook is calling for above-normal precipitation, and above normal temperatures.
The Quad-Cities does not usually see normal high temps of 66 degrees until April 25, according to Weather Service statistics. A normal high temperature of 61 degrees is not usually seen until April 12.
So far, this February, the Quad-Cities has gotten only 1.3 inches of snow. The normal for the month is 6.8 inches. The average high temperature for the month has been 41.7 degrees and the average low has been 20.5.
Add it all together and that puts the average temperature for the month at 6.2 degrees above normal.
McClure did send a cold reminder that this is the Midwest and winter is not over. “The caution flag is out there,” he said. “We’re not into March yet. We can still get some winter.”
But any cold air that comes down will be mitigated by the fact that the rays of the sun are becoming more direct on the northern hemisphere, the days are getting longer, and there is little snow pack to the north of the Quad-Cities.
“So any cold we do get likely won’t stick around for any length of time,” McClure said. But, the Quad-City area has had snow in April. “Just a reminder of what can occur,” he added.