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Old Man Winter Goes On Vacation

Posted by David Epstein  January 8, 2013 02:37 PM

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This old man we call winter must be getting really old because he doesn't have enough energy to give us any cold or snow for a week or longer in what is normally our coldest period of the year. Our weather turns mild today and generally stays this way into next Wednesday. After that, a cold front will move through and we will turn colder, but I am not convinced the cold is going to last for weeks and weeks on end. Also, meteorologists are still not sure if the coldest of the cold air will invade New England or points further west. And, if the arctic does move into New England, the worst could stay to the north. This morning there is a 40 degree difference between temperatures over far northern New England, below zero, and those around Boston, above freezing.

Our jet stream map today shows a major ridge developing in the east and a big trough in the west. Cold air pools in the trough and warm air rides up under the ridge. This pattern is locked in tight for the next week. Not only are we going to be mild for many days, be there is going to be a lot of sunshine. Temperatures will be into the 40s through Friday and even milder over the weekend. On Friday, there could be a period of showers as the mildest of the air starts to flow into the region.
Jet Stream January 2012.png
As I mentioned several days ago, along the coastal plain most of the snow will be gone by the end of the day Sunday. Inland, if you have deep snow cover, a bit of it should remain. When we finally return to colder weather, having no snow on the ground is actually quite bad. Snow acts as a good insulator and without it, the cold can penetrate much deeper into the ground. This can be a hazard for pipes and plants. If we did have weeks of deep cold and no snow, as we did in the winter of 2003-2004 problems will arise. Back in that winter the lack of snow cover and extreme cold caused many pipes to burst and many plants in the landscape to die.

Looking at our models this morning both do agree that some super cold air will be here next weekend. When I write, "super cold" I am talking about record low winter temperatures, something we have not seen extensively in years. If the models are correct, temperatures would go subzero from Maine to New York City and perhaps even further south. I am however, slightly skeptical about what I am seeing on the models a week before it happens. The first reason for this is that it's a week before it happens. Secondly, the models have been, for a long time, over predicting the cold. They predict one set of temperatures 7 days out and then by the time that day arrives, the cold isn't as intense as predicted. We will just have to wait several more days before we are confident in the intensity of the upcoming cold and how many days it will last. My best forecasting tells me that next weekend will be 180 degrees different than this one.

Gardening this week
I have a new video to show you this week on moving a tree. You might think big deal, right? However, the tree that got moved was done so without hurting any roots. They used something called an air tool to blow the dirt away and then lift the tree to its new home. Check it out.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this blog or any others. Please 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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