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. Iím 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 Published in 1976, quite a number of the snow records are outdated as are many others, but it's still a great reference point for what weather events stood out 40 years ago and which ones still are memorable today.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 ďMarch 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.Ē 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 Patrickís 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 22įF or 23įF making it one of the coldest February 28thís on record. The coldest high temperature for the day is 18įF 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 itís just a forecast and whatís 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 Mondayís storm will evolve.
We aren't able to ďsampleĒ 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 Iíll update the forecast here and of course on Twitter @growingwisdom. Please follow me there.
Looking over the records, it would be highly unusual to have a third winter with this much snow in a row next year. Iím only basing that statement on odds and the records in Boston since the late 1800ís, but I needed something positive to hang onto today.
Boston stands at 56 inches of snow for the season thus far, while in Worcester itís 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.
Notice the radar forecast for 3PM. Most of southern New England is the rain and itís 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.
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 wonít 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.
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 donít 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 donít 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, Iím calling it cold.
The storm is still on the way for Thursday and while snow amounts wonít be very heavy in Boston, there will be some areas which see over a foot of snow. I wouldnít be surprised if a few spots across the western parts of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and northern New England see up to 18 inches of snow. This is going to be the storm the ski areas have been hoping for all winter and is perfectly timed for school vacation week which starts Friday.
The storm is going to ride up the coastal as what we affectionately call a ďcoastal huggerĒ. As these types of storm moves along the coast they carry a lot of moisture and also a lot of warm air on their right side. A difference in 10 miles of the exact place the center of the storm passes can change the amount of snow by 4 to 5 inches.
This is the same storm bringing terrible winter weather to areas of the southeast where this storm will be historical and some of those folks will be talking about this event for many years. For us here in New England, itís a typical sloppy noríeaster with heavy snow inland, rain over Cape Cod and a mess in the middle.
I'l be updating on Twitter regularly. Look for updates here and on there as well.
The snow forecast is the biggest challenge. This is the toughest forecast of the winter because there is so much precipitation involved. When you see the two maps below notice how quickly the snow builds as you move west. I made a close-up map of the area where the snow accumulation gradient is greatest. The snow increases towards the next level within each zone. If the storm shifts a bit east, the zones move with them and we see more snow inside metro Boston.
There will be strong winds developing during this storm. The winds will contribute to the possibility of power outages, especially in the area with the heaviest snow. The map below shows the wind Thursday afternoon around 4PM. Use the key on the right to see how strong the winds might be. Notice the strongest winds are on the coast. Actual winds may be a bit stronger in gusts. Tides are astronomically low, however there still could be some minor beach erosion and splash over of sea water at the time high tide late this evening.
The snow moves in to the area between 7AM and 9AM. If you are headed to work tomorrow leave early. If you head into Boston before the start of the storm, you will still need to get home. Those of you who live west of Route 128 should seriously consider home commuting if possible. The evening commute will be particularly difficult heading west. It will not be nearly as poor of a commute heading south towards Cape Cod.
The storm will wind down in the late afternoon and evening between 4 and 9PM across the area. As the system pulls east and continues to develop there could actually be a thunderstorm over the coastal plain.
Friday morning snow
I am concerned about a new area of snow after 1AM Friday. The models are indicating another burst of precipitation in the form of snow early Friday and this may impact the morning commute. There could be a coating of snow or even a couple of inches. I will have more on this possibility later today and tomorrow.
A weak system will bring some snow showers or light snow to the area Saturday morning. This wonít be a big system or even medium, but it could coat the ground or give a couple of inches of new snow. Behind this system it turns colder for Sunday. There may actually be more storminess during the first part of the next week.
When does this cold end?
There are signs of a moderation in temperatures later next week and some significant melting is possible. Several indicators show temperatures reaching the 40s sometime after the 18th. Iím just trying to give you all something to look forward to in this very rough winter season.
A brisk and chilly afternoon continues with a cold northwest flow of air from Canada. Sunshine will be bright and with the sun going down after 5PM, solar glare is an issue as you leave the city of Boston heading west and south.
Since our storm of last week temperatures have been running quite cold and much of the snow is still on the ground. Itís very hard to predict how long snow cover lasts, but we are piling up the days this month.
You will not need to be concerned with road conditions for the next 5 commutes of the week. It will be cold through Wednesday and the wind chill could fall below zero at times, but there wonít be any precipitation.
Highs will remain below the melting point through this period so very little overall snow melt will occur. There is an exception to my statement, however. This time of year, as the sun gets stronger, any south facing slopes will lose the snow quite quickly.
Additionally, even flat areas that are exposed to full sunlight will see some decrease in snow depth. Also, if you look around trees and shrubs, you will start to see rings of melting occurring. This is because the darker color of the plants is absorbing the ultra violet rays of the sun and then pushing out some heat which in turn melts the snow. If we get enough solar radiation and the temperatures warms over the freezing mark you can get rings of melting straight to the ground while there is still over a foot of snow a few inches back from the bark of a tree.
Our next storm arrives early Thursday morning and if the timing holds, will affect the morning commute. If you are scheduling meetings and travel this week, stay away from Thursday if possible. The track of the storm isnít known right now, however, there is a strong possibility of travel delays from it on Thursday.
The cold air in place over us now will be departing Thursday so the forecast challenge with this storm is going to likely be the dreaded rain/snow line. The storm has potential to bring significant amounts of snow or rain to the area.
The track is critical because those areas to the left of the track will receive mostly snow, while those areas to the right of the track receive mostly rain. Just along the path of the storm there would likely be a period of snow followed by a change to rain. The storm is going to be loaded with moisture so the stakes are high on this one.
There will be wind and the snow will likely be heavy and wet so I am already thinking about the possibility of power issues.
Of course, todayís models could change much of this, but we do have agreement there will be a storm, so something is likely to occur. Enjoy your Monday.
You can tweet me an update @growingwisdom.
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
The back edge of the heaviest snow is now pushing through the Connecticut River Valley and will continue to push eastward the rest of the morning. In the Boston area I expect 1-3 more inches after 1PM with most of that occurring before 5 PM. There may be a coating of snow after 5PM until 9PM.
When this storm is over, it won't be in the major (over a foot) category for most of you. The reason this storm will have so much impact is because of the timing. It's hitting just as a commute is underway. Although snow/drizzle will still be occurring this afternoon and evening roads and travel should dramatically improve late today.
The number of hours of snow will be longest north of the Massachusetts turnpike and least over Cape Cod and the Islands.
- Between Now and 1PM look for 2-3 inches to fall, sleet and freezing rain south of Pike will start to mix.
- Between 1PM and 5PM look for a coating to 3 inches (north) and some freezing drizzle.
- After 5PM until 11PM there will be some light snow falling with little accumulation. However, roads could become icy again as temperature fall into the 20s.
Across Cape Cod and the Islands most of the accumulating snow will fall before 10AM.
Type of snow
The snow will start on the lighter end of the spectrum and be quite easy to move. It will grow increasingly heavy late in the morning as warmer air starts to flow northward. The snow could remain light and fluffier west of the coastline for much of the storm. If you can clean up the snow in shifts, you will be able to move the lighter snow before the heavier snow, sleet and even freezing rain in some areas arrives.
Sleet and freezing rain
Sleet is going to mix with the snow during the morning south of Boston. The exact time when the sleet starts to mix is critical to final amounts. If the entire storm were sleet then the 12 inch amount would be cut to 4 inches of sleet or by one-third. Freezing rain will be an issue through parts of interior Connecticut and the immediate south coast. The rain will create a glaze of ice in areas staying just under 32F.
Any time you get heavy wet snow or ice there is possibility of power outages. While this storm wonít cause major power issues, I would have my phone fully charged prior to the storm in the morning just in case. At least if you did lose power there will snow outside to keep things cold.
There wonít be much in the way of wind with this system. Winds will come from the east at 10-20 miles per hour at the coast, certainly nothing even close to those storms which bring strong winds.
Commutes and Cancellations
Many schools and some businesses are closed for today. This evening conditions will improve so some event will likely not be cancelled. Of course check with your school, business etc. to see if they are still open.
There are not major coastal issues with this storm. During the time of high tide around 3PM today, some waves could splash over a few sea walls, but that would be the extent of any concerns from this storm.
Changes to snow amounts
Sleet is the big unknown with this system. If the sleet starts before 9AM in Boston snow amounts would end up just under the low end of the total. If Boston stayed all snow and never mixed with any sleet, the city would be close to the higher end of my range.
I will be watching the sleet line closing all morning and into the afternoon. I would love to hear from you and what you are seeing as well. You can tweet me an update @growingwisdom.
The weather turns calmer for a few days Thursday through Saturday with a blend of clouds and sunshine and highs in the upper 20s to near 30F. It will be nice to get outside and enjoy the new snow. The next storm threat is Sunday afternoon through Monday. There will be a big storm developing. However, the amount of snow could be near zero if the storm stays hundreds of miles off the coast or a much more significant storm if the track takes the system closer to the region. Itís still several days away and impossible to know at this stage.
While we do have two storms on the way for Wednesday and again over the weekend, today's snow is causing slower travel as a general light snow affects the region. This is going to be a slow commute home as the snow comes to an end.
After a spring-like weekend with Boston hitting a record tying 55F yesterday, this week is going to be anything but spring-like.
In some respects this first full week of February is going to be a repeat of last yearís stormy February. While we are not looking at a record breaking blizzard this week, we are going to see three weather systems, each of which will bring various amounts of snow and certain impacts to the area. You may already feel a bit beaten up by the prolonged cold and above average snowfall. This week will deliver a couple of strong punches to our collective psyche. On the other side of the coin, plow operators and skiers are dancing the happy jig.
For this afternoon the snow will be steady and will taper off during the afternoon commute. If you are headed to New York City expect delays and cancellations as they have seen over 6 inches of snow as of early this afternoon. The steadies and heavies snow is along and south of the Massachusetts Turnpike and will remain in place the next few hours.
Parts of Cape Cod have seen 3 inches of snow and will pick up another inch or two. Some spots could hit half a foot of snow, will less on the roads as temperatures are just around freezing.
Storm number 2
Tomorrow is ďlull dayĒ between systems. There will be plenty of sunshine and temperatures will reach the mid-30s for some melting. Late tomorrow night snow breaks out again and by Wednesday morning it looks like an inch to 3 inches on the ground. This will all lead to cancellations and delays for Wednesday as well as a horrible commute.
The snow continues all day, with the rain/mix line moving northward. Amounts of snow will generally be on the order of 5 to 10 inches with the least amount south of Boston and the greatest snowfall north and west of the city. Iíll have many more details later today on this storm and what to expect.
Storm number 3
It turns cold and dry for Thursday and Friday with another storm for late Saturday and Sunday. This storm has the potential to be the largest of the three, but like so many noríeasters we see, the rain/snow line is going to be critical to forecasting amounts of snow.
With a stormy forecast this week, I recommend listening to latest forecasts often and keep in mind your plans are going to need to be flexible. Anytime we get into an active weather pattern, there are lots of rumors about the forecast, so listen with a grain of salt and follow me on Twitter and here for the latest updates this week.
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 thatís 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 ďensemble forecastingĒ. 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. Itís 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 itís 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.
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 wonít 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. Itís 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 wonít 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 heís 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.
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 ďthinkingĒ 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.
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. Iím going to stick with following them for now, unless of course Phil tells me otherwise.
Snow has started in parts of southern New England, but remains relatively light. South of Boston, especially towards Cape Cod, the roads are snow covered and travel is slow. North of the Massachusetts Turnpike there is less snow as only a few flurries have fallen.
If you are not already following my updates on Twitter you can get them there @growingwisdom
It's been a cold afternoon and this snow event will occur in very cold air. This means it will take less moisture to make each inch of snow. If you melted an inch of the snow from Saturday and compared it to an inch of tonight's snow, Saturday's inch would have 2 or 3 times as much water!
How big is this storm?
There is a blizzard warning up for Cape Cod, coastal Massachusetts south of Boston, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket. A blizzard means the visibility is expected to fall under one-quarter of a mile for three hours in a row due to snow falling or blowing snow. It's not an indication of the amount of snow.
For most of us, this is a typical January snowstorm, but it will have impact. Around Boston 6 to 9 inches of snow is a good number have in mind when thinking about the storm. Areas south of city will have several more inches, while other areas well west of Route 495 don't see that amount. This isn't a long duration storm and the snow will be light, not wet. The evening commute will be impacted mostly south of Boston with the Wednesday morning commute impacted mostly east of Route 495 and south of Route 2.
Timing of the snow
As mentioned snow is now overspreading the area and will continue to do so throughout the evening commute. I expect any accumulation to be low before 6 PM. The snow will be heaviest from 8PM until about 6AM Wednesday. The snow will end over western areas of Worcester County first around 6 AM and the outer part of Cap Cod last, around 1PM
The two maps below show projections for how the radar and snowfall totals will turn out this afternoon and evening. These are based on models which are relatively new, but do give a good idea of trend.
How much snow?
The heaviest totals remain over the southeastern part of the state. There will be a sharp drop in snow totals as you get west of Route 495. While Cape Cod is in the 8 to 12 inch band, I put a line to indicate where higher amounts could occur. I believe Boston itself ends up around that 6 inch total give or take an inch or two. That's why this is a moderate storm for the city, but a more major storm south.
Wind and drifting
Winds are going to be quite gusty during the storm. I am not expecting winds to reach damaging levels, but since the snow will be very light, it wonít take much wind to blow it around into drifts. The wind will whip up the snow enough to cause visibility issues overnight Tuesday. I do not recommend travel, especially along the coast from now through early Wednesday.
School delays and cancellations
Some afternoon activities might be impacted today, but there will be many delays and cancellations on Wednesday.
This storm will hit Washington, DC, Philadelphia and New York earlier this afternoon. Air travel will definitely see issues today and continuing into Wednesday. Call ahead and bring your patience. We have seen how these storms are having bigger impacts to air travel than one might expect.
Cold air and wind chill
Behind any snow, cold continues with frigid temperatures the rest of the week. Wind chills will be in the single numbers above or below zero Tuesday night and continue to be low through mid-week. There will be some moderation in the cold for the weekend before more frigid air returns next week. The cold pattern is likely to continue through the first week of February.