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 Published in 1976, quite a number of the snow records are outdated as are many others, but it's still a great reference point for what weather events stood out 40 years ago and which ones still are memorable today.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.
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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.
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?
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.
On this bright and sunny afternoon with light winds and cold air, it is worth noting that February 6th and 7th mark the 36th anniversary of one of the most famous blizzards to ever hit southern New England. For over 32 hours snow fell and would pile up to just over 27 inches in Boston with more to the southwest of the city. As the storm stalled to the south of Cape Cod it would produce hurricane force winds, a large storm surge and intense waves that would leaves thousands of homes destroyed along the coast. Thousands of people would be either be stranded or simply abandon their cars on highways. Boston and much of eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut were at a standstill for days following the storm. Cape Cod, they had mostly rain.FULL ENTRY
Walking this morning I ended up taking off my hat and gloves it was so mild. Having these mild winter days, in the middle of a cold and snowy winter, is such a treat.
January finished on the cold side, at 1.6 degrees below the 30 year normal. When you see this statistic it means the following: If you too all the Januarys from 1981 until 2010 and calculated the average temperature, January 2014, would have been 1.6 degrees below the average.
This is winter in New England; we have wild fluctuations of cold and warmth and snowy and no so snowy periods. With just over 21 inches of snow last month, we have seen close to 3 feet of snow in the Boston area this winter. Over the next 10 days, that number is likely to increase significantly.
So here we are on day two of the shortest month of the year. There will be a quick moving storm passing south of New England overnight and during the first part of Monday. Latest model indications are moving the precipitation a bit further north, this means accumulating snow should reach Boston tomorrow. While I am still not looking for a big storm, a plowable storm is more likely for Cape Cod with a coating to 2 inches north Plymouth, MA. The evening commute will be impacted somewhat due to the snow.
Temperatures this afternoon are heading for the 40s, but that’s it for a while. The pattern for the next 10 days turns colder and potentially stormier. I have been writing about the potential storm for Wednesday since earlier last week and this still looks on track. One of the reasons for my higher than average confidence in the formation of storm, was the agreement between models on how the atmosphere would behave this Wednesday.
Of course the specific details of rain/snow lines and amounts are still in question. We are looking at 6 inch possibilities or more for snowfall, with the greatest opportunities for those amounts as you move north of Plymouth, Providence, Rhode Island and New Haven Connecticut.
The next 7 to 10 days looks to be cold and snowy across much of the east. While no one can say how much snow is going to fall, I feel confident in a forecast of above normal snowfall and below normal temperatures for the area from the Midwest to Maine during this period. Of course, the specifics matter, so keep coming back often for any updates.
Of course, many of you know I also update on Twitter.
Other ways forecasters try to predict the weather is by using something called “ensemble forecasting”. By now most of you know we use models to make predictions. Ensemble forecasting takes the models and changes the initial condition to see if the forecast changes very much. It’s kind of like predicting how good a team will be if they trade this person or recruit that player. Below are two images predicting the flow in the atmosphere around 18,000 feet high. The first image show how the ensembles believe the atmosphere will turn out over the next 5 days. The second image shows how the ensembles are forecasting the atmosphere to behave the last couple of days of February and the first few in March.
The first image, the 4 ensembles (predictions) agree very closely. We would expect this because they only have to predict a few days out. The second image shows wild differences, I would also expect this, because it’s a month away and much harder to get the forecast correct. Next, a meteorologist will watch trends, look for places the ensembles agree, and see which ones tend to be better than others to forecast cold versus warm, wet versus dry in the long range.
The next 24 hours is critical to determine how much snow Boston is going to see Wednesday. I think there is a high likelihood of travel delays and cancellations Wednesday across much of the area. I will have much more Monday and Tuesday on the upcoming storm(s). Enjoy your Sunday.
Three more days of mild air before the bottom falls out of the thermometer starting Wednesday. A pair of weak fronts moves through the area before Monday, but temperatures really won’t change. As a matter of fact, some areas will again approach 70 on Tuesday.
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.FULL ENTRY
It’s muggy again this morning. While the heat is gone the humidity is still with us. If you asked someone about the weather so far this summer, they might tell you about the humidity. While records for the amount of humidity in the air are not easily obtained, anecdotally it seems like it’s been much more humid for a longer period of time this summer than we are use to.
I'll be updating the details of the showers and humidity on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.
Heat and humidity are on tap for the next few days. Yesterday many areas hit 90F. Since most places will hit 90F, or higher, the next 2 or 3 days this latest round of sultry weather will mark heat wave number two for the season.There hasn't been an official heat wave for Logan Airport yet, but as you know from reading my blog, I don't really think that matters since no one lives there. If you live right along the water, you probably won't have a heat wave either.
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.FULL ENTRY
The snow is over, finally. Remember, these are spotter reports and amounts may vary from what you have in your back yard. Certainly this was an under forecast storm for snow, especially east of Route 95, and the southern part of Route 495. There are several 24 inch amounts that show up as a result of this large ocean storm. Blue Hill in Milton got nearly 30" and that is the most reported. I'll be updating my weather forecasts on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there.FULL ENTRY
As you settle back into work, I am sure one of the more popular subjects around the water cooler will be last weekend’s snowstorm. I had an interesting email exchange over the weekend with one of my fellow meteorologists concerning whether or not we should have called this storm a blizzard. This is what meteorologists do. We love to talk about the details of what the models are showing before a storm and then recount what actually happened when it's over. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to chat with some of the best forecasters in the business and what's more, this region is lucky, because we have some of those forecasters working both in front of and behind the scenes of both the public and private sector.FULL ENTRY
I feel like it's been weeks since we first predicted this storm, but in reality it has only been a few days. Now it is time to finish preparing for the storm and get ready to be inside for the day tomorrow. I think we have grown very averse to being inconvenienced because the reality is that there will only be about 24 hours when you can't get around. Power is the big concern for most of us, and if it does go out, hopefully it will return fairly quickly. There has been so much warning with this storm that I imagine most of the area will be unusually today. I also suspect that since the storm is occurring overnight tonight and Saturday that crews will be able to clean up easier than if it was a mid-week storm.. If you have last minute things you do want to get done try to be home by 3 PM this afternoon. As usual I will be updating the forecast on on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there.FULL ENTRY