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Spring-like weekend, but winter is still firmly in control

Posted by David Epstein  January 31, 2014 07:00 AM

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Many areas are in the 20s this morning which is not as cold as the past several days. This is a precursor to a taste of spring this weekend. By this afternoon all areas will hit and surpass the melting point. I expect 40F to be common south of the Turnpike with upper 30s to the north. If you have an opportunity to get outside this afternoon take it, as this will be the brightest of the next several days.

Weekend forecast
Saturday features a lot of cloud cover, but not rain or snow. Highs will be slightly cooler than today without the sunshine, but still in the mid to upper 30s. A weak and fast moving system to our west brings some light rain showers later Saturday night in the first few hours post sunrise Sunday. Sunday will be the mildest of the next 7 days and certainly have that spring feeling as temperatures rise well into the 40s.

A coastal low will brush by on Monday and we will have to keep a close eye on how far the precipitation shield pushes west to the coast. There could be some snow during the morning commute Monday south of Boston.

A lull in the action is around for Tuesday with dry and seasonably cold weather. A more important storm does threaten the area for Wednesday. The details on timing, amounts, etc. won’t be clear until late in the weekend, but this storm has the potential, if the track is perfect, to give parts interior and northern New England the biggest snow fall since back in early January. There is going to be warm air involved with this system and although there will be snow everywhere to start, a mix or change to rain is likely along parts of the coast and south. If you want to be 100% safe in terms of air travel, stay away from late Tuesday and Wednesday. The storm is going to happen, but its impact isn’t quite known.

I will update on Twitter all weekend as I get new information. Please follow me @growingwisdom

This snow is likely to be the biggest storm ski country has seen since early in January. It’s been cold enough to make a lot of snow this winter, but natural snow has been less common since the start of the month.

Thereafter several shots of cold air are going to keep us in the deep freeze for much of the month. I don’t really care what the Groundhog says Sunday morning; winter isn’t even close to being over.

Adding light, minute by minute
February begins this weekend and it’s going to start on a damp, but mild note. February is a short month and can bring lots of wintry weather. The one part of the month that begins to remind us spring will come is the light.

I am forever fascinated by the light. I look at charts on when the sun is going to come up nearly every day. I have an app on my phone that automatically tells me the position of the sun at any given moment on the planet. At night, it tells me how many degrees below the horizon the sun has gone. I find it really interesting to think about how connected the Earth and Sun are and how it drives life on the planet.

When we were an agrarian society everyone would have noticed the light much more. You would be more aware from late December until now the sun is nearly 7 degrees higher in the sky at noon. You might even have figured out the sun moves up and down each day faster in summer than it does in winter. This is one of the reasons for the longer winter sunsets.

You have no doubt noticed it’s light longer now in the afternoon. We are gaining about two and a half minutes of daylight each 24 hour period and will increase the number to 3 minutes by the first day of astronomical spring in mid-March. In total, we will gain 75 minutes of daylight in February and see the sun nearly 10 degrees higher at noon on the final day of the month.

The light is about to signal for increased levels of testosterone to be manufactured in some species of male birds. Towards the middle to end of the month, if you listen in the morning, you will hear the songs of many of these animals change to a mating call. Much of this is light driven.

Small plants for window boxes and indoor decorations
This week my video shows how you can use small evergreen plants in creative ways around the home.

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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