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Damaging winds possible today

Posted by David Epstein  February 25, 2012 08:01 AM

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A storm has become very intense over Maine this morning. The biggest impact here, in southern New England, will be very strong winds today. The windy conditions will continue into Sunday, but not as powerful. Winds could cause scattered power outages and a few downed tree limbs or even whole trees. The strongest winds be felt over the Cape and along the shore.

Skies are clear and it's bright across the area this morning. Rain fell, heavy at times overnight and up to 10" of snow fell across northern New England. Ski areas got very different amounts so check your favorite mountain's report before you head out to the slopes. Today looks like a very nice day to look at, but the winds will be very strong. Scattered tree limbs and branches may fall, even a full tree could come down in a particularity, powerful gust.

Big storm, big wind
When you see the big red L on a weather map that is the symbol for low pressure. That L is the spot where the air has been lifted off the planet the most. Low pressure usually means a storm is located in that area. The air is rising very rapidly causing clouds and precipitation. The more the air leaves, the bigger the storm becomes. The planet likes to be in balance, so the air that has risen from the low must be replaced. Air rushes in from all around to fill the void created by the low pressure system, that red L. The bigger the void of air around the low, the more the air rushes back in to replace it, and the greater the wind. There are all sorts of scenarios that create the lows, but for us the next 24 hours the wind will be the big story.

On a weather map, lines of the same pressure are called isobars. You can see them on the map below. The closer the lines, the bigger the change of air pressure from place to place. Saturday morning, there will be a big difference in air pressure from Maine to New York and thus a lot of wind. I tell my students to think of those lines like a topographic map such as the one you may use when climbing the White Mountains. The closer the lines on those types of maps, the steeper the climb. The closer the isobars on a weather map, the stronger the wind.

surface map.jpg

This morning air will be rushing towards a low leaving the Gulf of Maine. That rush of air will create very strong winds. These winds could cause some damage and a few power outages. Over the Cape, there is a high wind warning. This warning means winds will be at least 40 miles per hour for an hour or more and gusts (brief bursts of wind) as strong at 55 miles per hour at times. There is a wind advisory up for the rest of the area. An advisory is not as bad as the warning. A wind advisory is issued when sustained winds are forecast to be between 31 to 39 miles per hour and gusts range between 46 and 57 miles per hour.

A return to spring-like weather
As the low pulls further away Sunday, winds will subside somewhat especially later in the day. Sunshine will be abundant. Temperatures will be near 40°F in the afternoon. If you are able to get outside and be in the sunshine, and away from the wind it will feel quite nice.
The start of the next week looks even better with clear skies and above normal temperatures. (isn't that the case all the time?) We will see highs well into the 40s and some areas may once again approach 50°F. It looks like our wonderful stretch of winter weather will continue right through the end of the month. March may come in a bit lionish..stay tuned.


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About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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