PHOTO GALLERY: Winter warms up

Friday, February 18, 2011 | 12:14 a.m. CST; updated 12:27 a.m. CST, Friday, February 18, 2011
Itsel, 2, is lifted out of a swing at Stephens Lake Park by her mother, Elizabeth Updegraff, on Thursday morning. With unusually warm temperatures in the 70s, Columbia residents were out to take advantage of the day.

COLUMBIA — A week after subzero temperatures hit Columbia, the city saw record warmth Thursday.

The temperature reached 75.3 degrees at MU's Sanborn Field weather station at 3:39 p.m. Thursday, besting the previous high for Feb. 17 of 68 degrees, which was set in 1994, according to the National Weather Service in St. Louis.

The weather service reported a high of 74 degrees at Columbia Regional Airport.

Temperatures are climbing quickly because southwesterly winds are blowing in warm air. Jayson Gosselin, an intern meteorologist at the weather service, said such a sudden shift in temperature is uncommon, even for Missouri.

The record low for Feb. 17 is minus 15 degrees. That was set in 1903, according to weather service data. The normal high for the date is 45 degrees.

Temperatures are expected to drop to highs of 57 degrees Friday, the upper 50s this weekend and the upper 40s Monday, Gosselin said.

Beyond next week, Gosselin said it’s difficult to predict whether temperatures will plummet again and bring more snow to Columbia.

“We could certainly have another cold spell before then,” Gosselin said.

Regardless of what the rest of winter might hold, Columbia residents were taking advantage of the unseasonable weather.

Carrie Sandfort and her fiance took their kids to Cosmopolitan Park for a day out in the sun. 

"We came right after school and we've been here since then," Sandfort said. "It's getting dark and they don't want to leave."

Sure enough, the children were running around the playground area, getting the most out of the nice weather. Carrie's young daughter, Karissa, came to show off to her mom how much mud she got on her clothes. Melted snow has its downsides.

Sandfort said they needed to get out of the house after being cooped up during the series of snow storms.

On the other side of the parking lot, Urmana Karhcayev celebrated his brother's birthday with family and friends. They had a barbecue at one of the picnic tables next to the tennis courts. Karhcayev said the warm weather was really good for his brother's kids as well, who were playing close by. 

Unfortunately, not everyone was able to spend all day in the sun. Allison Drapeau, Gina Boone and Marcia Doll made the most of the still warmish evening by walking around Stephens Lake Park.

"We used to run together," Drapeau said. "Now we're walking together."

The women said they began exercising at the park three years ago.

"It's great to go out with the girls and just talk and go out for a glass of wine after," Doll said.

"That's the real reason we're here," Drapeau joked.

Though ice still covers much of Stephens Lake, Jack Henning and Regina Swank spent part of Thursday morning at the park.
The weather Thursday set a record for warmest temperature at 75.3 degrees. Although drastic change in temperatures isn't uncommon for winter, this week's weather followed subzero conditions and one of the largest snowstorms Columbia has ever seen.

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