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Summer-like afternoon for the region

Posted by David Epstein  March 21, 2012 01:23 PM

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Two more summer-like days on tap for the region with temperatures exceeding 80F in many spots. Southwest winds should keep the sea breezes lighter than yesterday so I expect temperatures to continue their climb this afternoon. If winds remain southwest the rest of the day, Boston could hit 80F or higher. The record for today is 83F set back in 1921. That record also marks the earliest Boston has ever hit 80F and if we do hit 80F this afternoon, we will tie that record. After what I consider the best winter ever, this start to spring is utterly amazing. Later this week I will blog about the downside of all this warm sunny weather.

Temperatures continue to run at extreme levels out of the normal range. During any given year the high temperature for today could be as cold as in the 20s or as warm as the lower 80s. In other words, the range of afternoon temperatures this time of the year is about 60F. This week we are running at the high end of our range for the third week in March. It's also very abnormal to be running this warm for so many days in a row. Chicago has broken or tied their high temperature record for the past seven days. That is the longest stretch of record highs since way back in September 1953 when Chicago had 10 days of record high temperatures in a row. That occurred from August 25th to September 3rd.

Planetary temperatures
I thought it would be interesting to see how the rest of the planet is doing with regard to temperature. If you look at the map below, you can clearly see that the eastern half of much of North America is much warmer than the 30 year normal range. However, it's worth noting much of the rest of the planet is actually normal or cooler than normal right now. In other words, the entire planet isn't melting.

planet temperature.jpg

Yesterday a sea breeze kept many coastal areas in the 50s and 60s during the afternoon. Logan airport record a temperature in the 50s during the later half of the day. It was interesting to me that around 8 P.M. last night, the temperature at Logan jumped to 67F when the sea breeze died down. This time of the year, that ocean is still very cold and it doesn't take much to cool coastal areas.

Strong sunshine
A few things of note that you may not normally think about during the last part of March. The sun is strong and you can get burned. If you are going to be outside for any extended length of time, grab the sunscreen. The sun right now is about as intense as it would be at the end of September. Also, cars will get very hot, very fast the next couple of days. I know most people know this, but don't leave pets in the car with the windows closed. If I am going to be in the store for any extended time, I put a bowl of water on the floor of the car and always leave the windows open a few inches. Since there are no leaves on the trees, shade is harder to find, but sometimes I find parking behind a building gives the car some good shade.

Jet stream controls the weather

All of this warm weather is due to the jet stream. The jet, which controls our weather, has moved far north well into Canada. This pattern allows very warm air to move north from the south has turned our weather to be more conducive to June rather than March. This pattern will continue for Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures will be warmest Thursday when more records will be broken. I would say it's a very good bet that Boston will record a new record high Thursday afternoon. (see records below)

jet stream heat.jpg

Below is a list of high temperatures for the major cites in southern New England the next two days.


TEMP (YEAR) WED (21) THU (22)


BOSTON 83 (1921) 72 (1948)
WINDSOR LOCKS 82 (1921) 75 (1948/PREV)
PROVIDENCE 84 (1921) 74 (1948)
WORCESTER 71 (1921) 76 (1938)

Here are the all time highs for March.

BOSTON 89 DEGREES ON MARCH 31 1998

WINDSOR LOCKS 89 DEGREES ON MARCH 31 1998

PROVIDENCE 90 DEGREES ON MARCH 29 1945

WORCESTER 84 DEGREES ON MARCH 31 1998 AND PREVIOUS YEARS


Gardening tip of the week.

Normally, I would not plant pansies this early in the season. However, I am going with the weather pattern, not the caller. This week, I will plant my pansies and other cool weather plants. I have already planted seeds of peas, lettuce and arugula back in February and they are up and growing. I even had to water them yesterday.

Follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at GrowingWisdom.com

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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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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