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Bitter cold morning, but less cold later today

Posted by David Epstein  January 4, 2014 09:36 AM

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A cold morning for sure across New England, but Boston fails to go below zero again. The last time the city went negative was January 24th 2011 at -4 and that was significantly warmer than the record which still stands at -13F way back in 1882. That record is also the lowest January temperature ever recorded in Boston. morning lows.jpg You can see some of the readings this morning as the sun was rising in the images below. The northeast was the coldest corner of the United States this morning, but that will change later tomorrow and Monday when the coldest air of the winter enters the Midwest .

You can send me your thoughts on the cold and get my latest forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom.

7am temp.jpg
7am temp2.jpg

A few years ago, the USDA revised the hardiness zones for plants across the country. Boston and other areas of the immediate coast were put into zone 7, which has a minimum temperature of zero. While just one anecdotal piece of data, it is interesting Massachusetts’s largest city rarely goes below zero anymore. Much of this is due to the heat island effect, where the materials of a city, like concrete, asphalt and the heat escaping from all the buildings keeps the warmer than the surrounding countryside.

As close as West Roxbury, temperatures were reported as cold at 6 below this morning. Norwood fell to a bone-chilling negative 16 and I recorded negative 6 briefly around 5 AM in Natick. Temperatures at this level can do some damage to the flower buds of certain trees and shrubs, but native plants will survive just fine. Those of us, who try growing plants outside our cold hardiness zone, might have some problems.

The cold relaxes this afternoon as sunshine and a southwesterly wind aid in moving the mercury to more tolerable levels. Overnight, will not be as cold and temperatures will start to go up after midnight or 1 AM.

You could see some sunshine tomorrow morning, but clouds will quickly fill into the sky. There could be a few showers during the day, but it’s mostly later Sunday night and the first part of Monday we see rain. When the rain starts, it could briefly freeze on some surfaces, still very cold from this arctic air.

As the rain ends Monday evening, bitter cold air rushes back into the area. Anything that is wet and slushy will flash freeze. It’s going to stay cold through the middle of the week, so if you have slush and snow in your driveway, walkway or on the deck you want to remove, I suggest moving it before Monday evening. In terms of rain, we are only going to see around a half inch of rain, so flooding etc. isn’t going to be an issue.

Some of you might be worried about rain on your roof with the snow. While I certainly can’t know the status of every roof in the Commonwealth, the amount of snow on most roofs today is under a foot. A foot of heavy wet snow is well within the weight limit for most roofs. The images of a flat roof collapsing from previous winters make for great news pictures, but most of us don’t live in those types of structures and few saw even a foot of snow in the recent storm. For those of you who did receive 2 feet of snow, you will obviously have to make your own judgment call based on your own home or business.

The deep cold returns for a couple of days with the trend turning more typical later in the week. After this next arctic blast we get somewhat of a break from the bitterest air. Temperatures in the 5 day period from the 10th to the 15th look closer to the kind of cold you expect here in January, not in Minnesota.

Indoor Flowers You Can Grow Easily
Indoor flowers are a great way to chase away some of those winter doldrums. Check out this week's video on these wonderful indoor bulbs known as amaryllis.

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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