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Unsettled weather with big temperature swings

Posted by David Epstein  May 22, 2013 06:00 AM

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After a stormy weekend last weekend across the nationís mid-section I blogged about how tornadoes form and why we donít see them much across New England. Little did I realize over the next two days one of the stronger tornadoes to hit the United States would destroy much of Moore Oklahoma and that southern New England would have our own tornado warnings.

The weather has fluctuated greatly the past couple of days as cool ocean air and warm and humid tropical air has oscillated back and forth across the area. During the early afternoon Norwood, MA and many spots inland were in the middle 80s with very high levels of humidity. Around this time I headed to Brookline and watched as my car thermometer dropped 15 degrees in as many miles.

I often write about the power of the east wind and how if the wind shifts blowing towards the water to coming from the water temperatures can change dramatically. I have seen a heat wave broken in a matter of 30 minutes with people needing jackets after a temperature near 90F less than an hour earlier.

Today, as winds switch again, warm and humid air will flow north. That same front that moved through and cooled us off yesterday will be turning around and going the other way today. Although itís cool this morning, inland areas will warm back to the 80s this afternoon and some spots over interior Connecticut could nudge 90F. To the north and east, highs will be cooler and the north shore of Massachusetts including as close as Logan Airport will stay in the upper 60s and lower 70s much of the day. It may reach about 80F in Boston this afternoon, but it will take much of the day to get there if it does happen.

When I think about the chance for more showers and storms later today, I look to which areas will be warmest, have the most sun, and have something to lift that warm and humid air upward to produce storms. For this afternoon, the most likely areas to see storms will be west of Interstate 95. However, as is nearly always the case in these situations, showers and thunderstorms can occur even at the coast.
Tonight is going to be a warm and muggy night and I would say somewhat uncomfortable for sleeping especially where it does get warm today. Temperatures will get into the 60s by dawn, but much of the night will be very warm.

Thursday, the front that has caused much of the severe weather in the nationís heartland will approach New England. While this front was the catalyst for much severe weather the past several days, I donít expect the weather to be nearly that problematic in New England. However, there is a good chance for showers and thunderstorms tomorrow afternoon and we will certainly have to watch the radar very closely to see how the situation unfolds. The front is moving very slowly so the showers will be in the forecast through the end of the week.

On Friday the front will continue to move east and then get stuck off the coast. This may prove an issue for Saturday. During the day the humidity will slowly drop along with continued periods of showers and chilly air. This will bring an end to our first real taste of summer-like humidity and usher in a cool Memorial Day weekend.

The weather looks complicated to start this weekend. As the cold front sits off the coast, a storm will develop along it and may bring a batch of showers to the area Saturday. I will be watching the trend of the models, but Saturday has the potential to be a day with highs in the 50s and quite wet.

Sunday and Monday are better with a blend of clouds and sunshine, dry levels of humidity and cool temperatures. While this wonít be a weekend to go swimming, it will be a perfect Memorial Day for all late spring outdoor activities. You will need a jacket if you are an early riser as many towns are going to see low temperatures in the 40s while highs reach back to the 60s in the afternoon.

Gardening this week
Japanese maple trees are one of the best ornamental trees you can put in your yard. I have a total of about a dozen scattered everywhere from the front of the house to the back. Check out some of the best varieties in this week's video.

I'll be updating the forecast throughout the week on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.

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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