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Sunshine for the afternoon, drought worsens, fire danger high

Posted by David Epstein  April 3, 2012 01:51 PM

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In any other year I would be thrilled to be giving a forecast like the one I see developing for the next 10 days. However, this has been anything but a normal period of time in our weather. Sunshine will be abundant the rest of the week with just a slight risk for a passing shower late tonight. Otherwise I don't see any significant rain through the 12th of April and that is going to be a big problem. We have another red flag warning across the area today meaning fire danger is exceedingly high once again.

rain prediction.jpg

The map above shows how much is predicted to fall across the country over the next 10 days. You can clearly see that we here in the northeast remain in a dry slot. There is less than a quarter of an inch of rainfall predicted for this period. If this forecast holds, that would put us on par for one of the driest March through mid-April periods on record. The deeper into April we get, the more the plants will start using what water is left in the ground. If rainfall doesn't occur, then the ground will rapidly dry and some plants could show stress later this summer.

I don't want to be an alarmist about the lack of rain because two weeks of rain in May will undo this entire issue. However, the pattern is very locked right now and my fear is that we continue to see drought conditions through the spring and then into summer. Back in the mid 1960s New England experienced drought conditions for several consecutive years. 1965 was the driest year on record since the late 1800s. As recently as June 1999, Boston record zero rainfall the entire month. That summer, water bans were prevalent across the entire State. If you don't have a garden or a lawn you might think what is the big deal? However, a lack of rain will create very high pollen counts, high fire danger and cause high prices for produce, something we all have to endure.

Luckily, we still have some time to get rain before the summer season kicks in. Once we get past the first week in June, it becomes increasingly less likely we will see any major general rainstorms. Most of the rain that falls during the summer is from scattered showers and thunderstorms and is highly variable from place to place. Right now we are in a moderate drought. There will be an update later this week on the drought monitor. (see map below)

drought.jpg


Day to day weather
Today is going to be a spectacular early April day with abundant sunshine and temperatures in the upper 50s to near 60°F. Overnight, a quick shower could wet the pavement, but that would be the extent of any rain. Tomorrow, Wednesday will feature a more sunshine and temperatures in the lower 60s.

Thursday through Easter
It will be sunny for each of these 4 days. Temperatures will increase a few degrees each day. Highs on Thursday will be in the mid 50s and by Sunday many areas will approach the 70°F mark. If it weren't for the lack of rain, this would be a perfect forecast. Since we can't make it rain, we might as well enjoy this fine stretch of spring weather.

Gardening tip of the week
I planted my garlic in the ground last fall, it's growing quite well now and will be ready for harvest this summer. You can plant garlic in the spring but it tends to not grow as big as those planted in the fall. If you don't have much space, try growing garlic in a pot. You can use organic garlic you would buy at the store to plant or get it as your local nursery.

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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