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Frigid temperatures replace yesterday's warmth

Posted by David Epstein  January 7, 2014 08:53 AM

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The wind is back and wind chill readings are once again below zero and the warmest part of the day occurred several hours ago at midnight when temperatures were still in the upper 20s. Since then, the mercury has been falling and is now in teens in most areas north of Cape Cod. Readings will continue to fall this morning, before leveling off and rising a couple of degrees this afternoon.

You can find updates to my forecasts on Twitter @growingwisdom. I welcome your thoughts and observations.

If you were hoping for the wind to relax a bit today, think again. The wind going to continue for the next couple of days and doesn’t really relax until later Wednesday.
The wind has been beneficial in one way. The roads and sidewalks have dried nicely during the night so ice isn’t a big problem. While this is the case, anytime you have temperatures fall from the 50s to the mid-teens you can encounter isolated icy patches while driving.
tuesday weather.jpg

The chilly weather continues through Thursday morning. During the next couple of days highs will be well below average and nighttime lows will fall into the single numbers. I don’t expect widespread below zero temperatures for two reasons. First, and most importantly, the core of this cold air mass is staying to our west. Secondly, the change in snow cover texture impacts how cold we become overnight. Light, fluffy and newly fallen snow reflects heat much better than older, frozen and hard crusty snow or in many cases a complete lack of snow. Since we have the latter there’s another reason we won’t be quite so cold.

You can see how many cities have tied or set new record low temperatures across the country so far today. More may be set before midnight.
tuesday records.jpg

As the cold air departs for Canada, our January Thaw begins. Starting Friday and continuing for several days, highs will break the freezing mark. By the weekend many of us will enjoy temperatures in the 40s. There could be some light rain or snow over the weekend, but not a storm. A return to colder, but not bitter cold will occur sometime during from the early to middle of next week.

Polar Vortex:The new term, that's not new at all.
The upper winds have become configured in such a way so they are bringing very cold air to the country. You have likely heard the term “polar vortex” this week. This meteorological phenomenon is simply a semi-permanent circulation of wind in the higher levels of the atmosphere.
polar vortex  tues.jpg

The circulation is normally found over the arctic region of the planet. (Also South Pole). This week, a piece of the polar vortex moved south and carried with it the bitter cold air much of the country is experiencing. The upper winds will reconfigure by the end of the week as the polar vortex retreats into Canada and our weather becomes milder. The polar vortex isn’t unusual, nor is the fact a piece of it has come into the United States. What is unusual and not seen since the 70s or 80s, (depending on what numbers you use) is the size of the piece that is affecting the lower 48.

The image below shows how the upper winds will return to a more typical pattern later this week.
Polar vortex Friday.png

Great flowering houseplants
If you are getting the winter blues, how about picking up a calla lily to brighten up your house? Check out this video where I show you how they grow.

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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