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The end of the January thaw is in sight and it looks cold

Posted by David Epstein  January 16, 2014 02:51 PM

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Another relatively mild day in mid-January and you might be thinking could winter be over? Donít be lulled into a false sense that the worst is over just yet. How much more snow we see the between now and April is highly unpredictable, but I am very confident we are about to get quite cold once again.

Since the snow started flying in December we have received just over 2 feet of snow in most areas. Last year at this same time, Boston hadnít even hit 4 inches of snow and we ended the year with about 63 inches of snow at Logan Airport around 80 inches in the Route 128 belt and over 100 inches in Worcester.

February and the first couple of weeks of March 2013 were very snowy. This winter, the pattern is different and while we certainly will see snow, thereís not likely to be as much snow as last year. If we have persistent dry arctic air with a strong flow from Canada itís not as easy to get storms along the coast.

The long range charts are all very consistent in predicting several major shots of arctic air entering the country next week. We are just about at the bottom of the average temperature scale for the year so when we do see arctic air next week, it has the potential to be frigid. If you read my blog regularly you know averages are useless in this part of the country, however, the fact our coldest period of the year is during the second and third week of January is significant. Put another way, this shot of arctic air could rival what we saw in early January. The image below, which you can click to enlarge, shows the downward trend in temperature on the way.
Winter returns.jpg

Currently, I am still thinking when the winter is over, the peak of the cold will have been that first week in January, but itís going to be a close call with the upcoming cold.

Snow cover has dwindled a lot and is about half of what it was back in late December. See the map below for the current state of the snow cover. You can click the map to enlarge. This could impact the severity of the cold by a few degrees. The same air over a snow pack as opposed to bare ground has the potential to be many degrees colder. The snow acts as a refrigerant and reflects any heat from the sun better.
snow depth 1.jpg

Check out forecast temperature readings for next Wednesday. temps.jpg This is just an early look at the cold, but you can see the days of 50F plus are coming to a rapid end.
Early tonight as a weak system brushes the area you might see a snow shower, but most of you will not see any precipitation. It wonít be very cold either with lows just below freezing.


Friday is going to be a very nice day by January standards and while we wonít hit 50F, it will reach the lower and perhaps mid-40s. A low pressure area will develop near us Friday night and Saturday, but most of the moisture remains off the coast. There will be a chance of a period of showers of rain or snow early Saturday.

Sunday is dry with a blend of clouds and sunshine. While temperatures will be above freezing, rising into the mid-30s, it will feel quite cold compared to our recent thaw.
MLK day is dry and chilly, but not very cold for January. If you are thinking winter is over, think again. Itís going to turn quite cold late next week and while the coldest of air will likely stay over the Midwest, we are going to see several shots of arctic air after the 23rd which could last into the first half of February.

As far as snow, there could be some snow showers over the weekend, but a possible snow event next week is looking very unlikely right now.

Iíll be updating the forecast on Twitter@growingwisdom. Please follow me there.

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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