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February closes on a cold note, March starts quiet then turns snowy

Posted by David Epstein February 28, 2014 08:38 AM

I used to relish winter when I was in school. What kid doesn't want to turn on the radio or TV to their school cancelled for the day? Even throughout my 4 years at Colby, I loved a good snowstorm. I’m not as much a fan of winter weather anymore because I have to operate my car in it, but still enjoy reading historical accounts of weather, especially big storms. One of my favorite books growing up was The Country Journal: New England Weather Book by David Ludlum.

The book has some great historical accounts as well as many weather records for all of New England. Published in 1976, quite a number of the snow records are outdated as are many others, but it's still a great reference point for what weather events stood out 40 years ago and which ones still are memorable today.

The book is divided on such a way you can read about how each month unfolds here in New England. For March, David wrote this “March is frequently a wintry month in New England. Not until the close of the month do the chances of a twelve inch snowstorm or a morning of zero cold diminish to minimal percentage possibility.” He goes on to talk about March 1956 which still stands as one of the snowiest Marches on record. That year Boston saw over 31.2 inches of snow, much of it falling from back to back snowstorms on Saint Patrick’s Day and again on the first day of spring. The record stood for many decades until my first March in Boston, back in 1993, when 38.9 inches of snow fell. I clearly remember having to dig out my car which was parked on the streets of Brookline that year.

Today we find another cold day as we close out the month of February and get ready to begin the 3rd month. The high in Boston will likely be around 22°F or 23°F making it one of the coldest February 28th’s on record. The coldest high temperature for the day is 18°F set in 1875, one of the older records on the books.

Ask me a question about weather or gardening on Twitter @growingwisdom.

The arctic air will retreat over the weekend making way for a new round of storminess on Monday. The entire forecast hinges on the exact track of the storm (it always does) and its strength. Take a look at the two maps below.
sunday snow.jpg

The first map shows how the surface map will likely look Sunday afternoon. The green is snow or rain and the blue is heavier precipitation. Notice how elongated the precipitation field is? This is the result of the warm air to the south overrunning the cold air to the north. When this type of storm occurs it often brings the heaviest amount of precipitation during the first half of the storm and it can arrive very quickly.

Now look at the next map. This map shows snow totals for the storm across the east. I purposely took off the amounts because it’s just a forecast and what’s interesting is the pattern. The pink represents the heaviest snow, blue is less and gray is a dusting. See how narrow the swath of significant snow is?
swath of snow.jpg

Notice there is little snow in Maine and virtually nothing south of Washington, DC. If the cold air to the north pushes a bit further south, the entire area of snow will move in that direction. If the warm air moves further north over the cold air, the heavier snow will fall over our area or even southern New Hampshire.

The storm which will cause this weather Monday is still over the Pacific Ocean. Later today and overnight tonight the computer models will get a better picture of the strength and configuration of this weather system. That information will then be fed into the computers used to model the weather and a clearer picture of Monday’s storm will evolve.

We aren't able to “sample” very much information from Pacific storms so their predictability is quite poor until they are over land. At that point, meteorological weather balloons can float inside the storm and obtain information about wind, moisture and temperature. The lack of good data over the Pacific is one reason storms are often not forecast very well in California.

Throughout the weekend I’ll update the forecast here and of course on Twitter @growingwisdom. Please follow me there.

More rain and snow later today

Posted by David Epstein February 19, 2014 07:00 AM

Looking over the records, it would be highly unusual to have a third winter with this much snow in a row next year. I’m only basing that statement on odds and the records in Boston since the late 1800’s, but I needed something positive to hang onto today.

Boston stands at 56 inches of snow for the season thus far, while in Worcester it’s just under 78 inches. Your yard probably is in the middle depending where you live. While there is more precipitation on the way, today is going to be mild enough for it to fall mostly in the form of rain.

Sunshine will quickly disappear behind the increase in clouds this morning and I expect rain or even rain and wet snow to break out this afternoon post 1PM. Across northern Worcester and the western part of northern Middlesex Counties there could be enough cold air left to leave an inch or two of snow. I made an accumulation map of worst case scenario. If the warmer air makes it further north, even these areas could see rain.
today snow.png
Notice the radar forecast for 3PM. Most of southern New England is the rain and it’s snowing in New Hampshire and western Maine. The area of snow and rain is quite narrow, so it only lasts a few hours with about a quarter inch of water.
precip today.png

If you have any observations or questions let me know @growingwisdom on Twitter.

This will be enough rainfall to create some big puddles and make the drive home slower than usual. There won’t be enough rain to cause flooding or anything like that.
Thursday is a wonderful day with light wind and plenty of sunshine. Highs are going to reach the 40s and it will feel like spring even if the landscape looks like the arctic.

Friday rain

A quick hitting rainstorm brings mild air for Friday with some areas along the coast including Boston hitting 50F or higher. It will be a bit colder in the Worcester hills, but still well into the 40s. The rain could be heavy enough to cause some street flooding and if you have a flat roof you might want to think about having the snow cleared. Unless you are comfortable moving it yourself, hire someone who knows what they are doing. You don’t want to be that person showing up as the lead story on the news who fell off the roof shoveling.

The weekend is dry and seasonable with highs in the lower to middle 40s. Saturday is the milder of the two days. The cold air is back next week. I don’t expect it to be as cold as January, but when you are a week away from March and temperatures are still well below freezing during the afternoon, I’m calling it cold.
temp trend.png

A taste of spring, followed by a full plate of winter

Posted by David Epstein February 1, 2014 06:01 PM

Not one, not two, but three storms threaten the area in the coming 7 days; we are defiantly in an active wintry pattern. There is some good news in all this. Storm number one, late tomorrow night and Monday, will just brush by southern New England. The second storm which moves into the region sometime late Tuesday night and third storm which hits us next weekend look more likely.

After a wonderful taste of spring today, we have a mild night ahead. There won’t be any precipitation this evening and I was able earlier today to walk around the yard and do a little winter assessing. I noticed some big branches have fallen in the past could of months and I disposed of them this afternoon.

Some of you live in areas you can do burns this time of year, tomorrow would be a great day to set some of the brush ablaze. Be sure to check with your local fire department first about the regulations for your specific area.

As milder air blows up from the south overnight we will enjoy a nighttime thaw. It’s been a while since readings stayed above freezing all night, yet they should do this inside much of the Route 495 area. Those of you in the colder area to the north and west won’t fall but a degree below the freezing mark.

Tomorrow could see a couple of quick showers in the late morning or early afternoon, but the real story is the warmth. Highs will reach 45-50F and it will feel very spring-like. Whatever Punxsutawney Phil says tomorrow, remember he’s a rodent. While I might not always be correct, I tend to do better on forecasting the weather, although he can dig better holes.

A fast moving storm passes to our south Monday. You can see on the forecast radar below, most of the steady precipitation is south. This means although we could see a spot rain or snow shower from this storm in Boston, any steady precipitation will be confined south of the Cape Cod Canal.
radar sunday night.jpg

A more important storm is brewing for Wednesday. One of the reasons I have been able to feel comfortable with this forecast for so many days is the models have been agreeing there will be a storm. Agreement between the models brings a higher chance the predicted state of the atmosphere will occur.

The map that follows shows the prediction for the position of the storm from each of the two models we tend to rely upon. There are important differences in the exact position of the storm. The GFS has the storm much closer to Cape Cod and would bring more of a wintry mix to the region. The Euro has the storm further east and would bring more of a snow solution to the region. By Sunday night and Monday we will see how these two lines of “thinking” are playing out. The models will tend to converge on one of these solutions. Often the final result, (what really happens) is between the two. Once I see a trend, I will be better able to forecast things like start times, snow amounts, rain/snow lines etc.
GFS and Euro.jpg

Not matter what happens the storm won't be a blockbuster, but will certainly impact the commutes on Wednesday. Air travel, as we have seen all too often, is also highly affected by these storms.

Cold temperatures return for the end of the week with the third storm for Saturday looking like a mainly snow event right now. Of course, the storm is 7 days away, but again the models have been very consistent on insisting something is going to form next weekend. I’m going to stick with following them for now, unless of course Phil tells me otherwise.
7 ddays.jpg

Peak foliage and generally great weather for the holiday weekend

Posted by David Epstein October 11, 2013 09:40 PM

Labor day weekend I waited until 8PM to get on the highway and come home. I zipped from Maine to Massachusetts with no problems and little company. Why start my blog this way? That weekend is the busiest weekend for the stretch between Portland and the Hampton tolls of the year, and guess which weekend is number 2?

If you want to discuss weather, climate or gardening or even education please find me on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.


Frost advisory for tomorrow for parts of New England

Posted by David Epstein September 16, 2013 08:13 AM

A few showers cross the area this morning with clouds hanging tough much of the day. Colder air is on the way with a frost advisory for areas in blue tonight and early Tuesday morning.
frost sept.png

I'll be updating the details of an severe weather today on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.


Risk of showers throughout the weekend

Posted by David Epstein August 31, 2013 10:12 AM

After a long dry stretch of weather, clouds and a few periods of showers will dominate through the holiday weekend. While it won’t rain anything close to the entire weekend, the risk of showers will be ever present, especially in the afternoon.
I'll be updating the details of the weather on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.


Enjoy the sunshine, showers and storms are coming

Posted by David Epstein August 7, 2013 07:40 AM

One more day of super weather for today before humidity and showers return to the region for a pair of days to close out the work week. The weekend will see a return to sunshine and seasonable temperatures.I'll be updating the details of the weather on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.


Perfect Saturday weather turns sour for Sunday

Posted by David Epstein July 27, 2013 09:03 AM

What a great day we have for today. Sunshine, warm temperatures and light winds will combine with low levels of humidity to make this a perfect day. A few clouds could pop-up from time to time, but there is no chance of rain. This is the type of day we expect in summer.
I'll be updating the details of the weather on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.


Rain ends this morning, more storms later

Posted by David Epstein July 23, 2013 08:25 AM

Heavy showers will pass through the region this morning as a break in the action takes place. Some areas saw up to 3 inches of rain already, mostly west of Route 495. The radar image below shows the back edge of the rain pushing rapidly through southern New England.

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


No drought with this pattern

Posted by David Epstein June 25, 2013 10:00 AM

What a beautiful morning. It’s warm and the sunshine is abundant. Over the next week to 10 days I think it will be important to take advantage of the morning as the chance for rain will increase in the afternoon.

I'll be updating the details of the July 4th forecast on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.


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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