Just weeks after a bitter cold blast that brought heavy snow to Germany, the Netherlands and Britain, much of Western Europe is enjoying a taste of spring. Temperatures some 25 degrees Fahrenheit or more above normal have swarmed over most of the continent, with highs in the mid-60s in many areas as any lingering snow quickly disappears. Western Europe sits on the rising end of a meteorological seesaw that’s simultaneously sending temperatures across a broad swath of Russia plummeting below zero.

The bipolar jet stream pattern has also shuttled dust from the Sahara Desert all the way to Scandinavia, tinging the sunset in Paris on Tuesday.

Record-setting warmth

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On Monday, the mercury soared into the 60s in Germany, where average highs for mid- to late February are usually in the lower to mid-40s. Hamburg hit 70 degrees, not only the warmest on record in February but for any winter month. It beat out the previous record, set a day earlier, by 4.3 degrees.