While teaching yesterday I was talking about the cold air that seems to be perpetually entering the region. The type of air mass we have over us is called continental polar or continental arctic, depending on just how cold it is. These air masses originate in Canada and have been responsible for the continued cold this winter.
While it might seem like the pattern began in December, I can actually trace the start of this back to last August. During the summer, when cold and dry air comes into the country from Canada, we tend to appreciate it. In August 2013, several days stayed in the 70s, with a couple of days those first two weeks, remaining in the upper 60s and lower 70s. Several nights fell into the 40s and there were even some upper 30s across parts of northern New Hampshire. Back then, after a very hot and humid July, most of us were quite excited about the prospect of such comfortable air in the middle of the summer.
As fall began, cold air continued to build across central Canada, snow followed and the stage was set for a lot of arctic air to be created a 1000 plus miles away. Then, other factors such as the cold phase of the Pacific Ocean, a non-existent El Nino, strong ridging (dry pattern) off the west coast and a negative Arctic Oscillation acted together to bring continued rounds of arctic cold along with snow to much of the country, mostly east of the Rockies, this winter. Additionally, although the polar vortex has been spinning around the top and bottom (and bottom) of the planet for millennium, this was the year the media decided to incorporate the term into an already hyper-overblown analysis of every storm and cold snap that hits the country, somehow making the cold even worse.
As we close out February, the pattern remains chilly and although we are not seeing any significant storms right now, I donít think we will be so lucky next week. As usual, I'll be discussing more of this on Twitter @growingwisdom
The cold is likely to continue through the first 2 to 3 weeks of March. This doesn't mean we wonít hit 40F or 50F during this time, it does mean we will continue to see cold blasts of air making their way into the region through the next 21 days. What will happen is each successive cold outbreak wonít be quite as cold as the previous one as the sun continues to get stronger and stronger. We still havenít gone below our early January lows in Boston and after this week, I donít believe we will be this cold again until next winter. Again, I'm not suggesting temperatures wonít be below average because they will be, but if the low temperature this week is 12F in Boston, it wonít be 12F again next December or January.
You will likely see some snow on several of the upcoming days, but little accumulation. Tomorrow a few snow showers could dust the ground with a few more on Thursday and again Saturday. None of these systems looks to be significant. Highs wonít reach freezing the rest of the week and interior locations will fall into the single numbers several of the next 5 mornings.
The cold will continue to have added economic impacts. Added heating costs beyond what we normally expect are going to continue, planting is going to be delayed this year and construction projects will also be set back up to several weeks, depending on the amount of snow and cold we have in the next 4 weeks.
Later Sunday through Tuesday the two jet streams which bring cold and moisture to the region will likely interact to form several waves of precipitation. Itís too early to give you more details. However, there is a lot of agreement our weather will turn stormy in this time frame. This could mean snow, rain or a mixture, but amounts will be more significant.
Although I donít know specifics yet, I would recommend staying away from travel plans Monday and Tuesday if possible. It could turn out to be nothing of course, but if you can avoid it, do so. The odds favor something big enough to disrupt travel, so why chance it if you donít have to?
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.
Many places reached close to or just above freezing this afternoon as clouds rolled into the area. It was interesting morning weather wise because along the coast there was actually snow falling, while inland it was sunny quite pleasant. Eventually, the sun faded and now we have a few hours of snow.
Winds remained light throughout the day and the snow we are seeing is falling straight down. The snow isnít going to amount to anything significant overnight with a generally a coating up to 2 inches region wide. The most likely spot for the 2 inches would be Cape Ann. The good news for commuters is the snow will be over about 3-5 hours prior to sunrise, giving the towns a chance to put down melting product and/or plow. Some municipalities will plow at just over an inch while others wait until 2 inches fall. Either way, this isnít going to be a big deal.
You might want to be sure you have a full reservoir of windshield fluid as there will be a lot of spray flying up from the car in front of you tomorrow morning. I am already hating the fact my car is going to turn white with the salt/calcium mixture drying all over the paint.
The big weather story this week is the next shot of arctic air poised to enter the country and spill eastward. Once again our temperatures are going to be very cold and highs on Tuesday and Wednesday will not rise out of the 20s. At night it will be colder of course. I am expecting Wednesday morning to find many readings in the single numbers and even some slightly below zero again.
At some point, we will experience the last of the frigid mornings for the winter. I define frigid around southern New England as anything under about 8F. The fact is we likely will not be as cold as we are going to be Wednesday morning until next December or January. As I look out into the long range I do see more cold air on the way, but we gain more and more light each day and as the nights grow shorter it does become increasingly less likely we will see readings of 5 or 6 degrees above zero the rest of the season.
Take a look at the two maps below. The first shows the average temperatures over two five day periods this month. The first is the next five days and the second is the 18th through the 23rd. Remember, this is based on one model, but does give a good indication of the arctic air leaving the lower 48 states and a return to seasonal averages or above averages in terms of temperature.
When this happens, the transition of cold to warm air, storms do develop. The challenge for me later this week and perhaps the following week is going to be to determine how the storm track impacts our weather. Do we remain cold enough for wintry precipitation or warm up enough for some rain? The next storm up on the docket arrives Thursday. There will be quite a bit of moisture with this system, so some areas could see a plowable snow storm.
You can tweet me an update @growingwisdom.
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.
Snow, mostly light but some moderate has broken out across much of the area as we head into the evening hours. The snow we have seen during the day was caused by cold air rushing over the mild ocean water. This is the same way they receive lake effect snow in Buffalo. All areas are going to see accumulating snow this evening with a change to rain across the extreme southeastern areas of the state early Sunday morning. There is still a winter storm warning for areas in pink. on the map and a winter weather advisory for the rest of the area.
I'll be updating the snow forecast as it changes on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.
Milder air is going to push inland from the coast during the storm. I expect Nantucket and Martha's Vineyard to change to rain after only an inch or two of snow. The rain snow line will then push towards Cape Cod, Plymouth, Boston and even briefly make it into the Route 128 or even Route 495 belt as the precipitation is ending. You can see on the map below how far inland the mild air is expected to be by tomorrow morning.
Snow, currently light and fluffy and become heavier and wetter at the coast as the night progresses. The snow should stay on the less dense side inland, but there could be a small crust of sleet or freezing rain at the end of the storm early Sunday morning. I don't expect any mixing over northern or far inland areas.
Although there will be flurries this morning and some light snow this afternoon, the steadiest and heaviest doesn't arrive until later tonight.
Temperatures will stay steady this evening and then begin to slowly rise throughout the night. As the warm air moves inland after midnight temperatures will rise. By dawn, Boston, Norwood, Providence and points south will be well into the 30s with 40s over the Cape and Islands.
Driving will become more difficult overnight. The later you are out, the poorer the conditions will become Living in New England, I don't feel we should cancel events every time there is a few inches of snow. Of course, do whatever is the right thing for you.
The bulk of the storm arrives after 10PM as the snow becomes heavier and steadier. After midnight some areas will see snowfall rates around 1 inch per hour as the heaviest of the snow moves through the region. The map above shows how much new snow will be on the ground around 1AM
At the same time the heavy snow is occurring, the rain/snow line will be steadily moving northward. The key to the accumulation forecast depends on exactly when the snow flips or mixes. Since it will be snowing so hard just prior to the changeover, a difference of 2 hours, could mean a difference of up to 3 inches.
The highest risk areas to the forecast are the lower part of Cape Cod, inland areas of
southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island and the immediate east coastal areas around Boston. Here, if the warmer hangs on a bit longer or leaves earlier, snow totals could end up a few inches above or below where they are predicted.
Those of you on the south shore and into Boston, I highly recommend getting up very early tomorrow if you hear the precipitation changing to rain. Shoveling will be exponentially easier to do as soon as the change happens as the snow will become heavier quickly.
There won't be a flash freeze, but temperatures will fall below freezing by the afternoon making it difficult then to clean up.
The weather turns very cold to start the week with a few snow showers Tuesday after a sunny day Monday. A moderating trend takes place by the end of the week with highs getting back above freezing and even close to 40F, which is normal by Friday.
Weekend garden tip
The video is from a few years back, but the tips on caring for a living Christmas tree are the same. Enjoy.
It's going to seem like someone pushed the repeat button in the weather office as we go through the weekend and into early next week. Last weekend, you might remember, was sunniest on Saturday with mild air peaking on Monday. Then a cold front came through and temperatures fell dramatically. Wednesday we experienced a day that felt more like December than November.
I'll be updating the forecast for the week on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.FULL ENTRY
Monday morning brought the first below freezing morning to Boston and it was just about on schedule. Normally, the first frost at Logan Airport occurs the last few days of October or the first week of November. We have gone later, but this time of the year and end the growing season is expected.
I'll be updating the forecast throughout the week on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.FULL ENTRY
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.
After a long dry stretch of weather, clouds and a few periods of showers will dominate through the holiday weekend. While it wonít 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.
Another super August weekend is underway across the region. When the summer of 2013 is over we will remember the rain of June, the humidity of July and the spectacular weather of August. As horrible as June was this year, August is making up for it in spades. The fine weather is going to continue for the next week with barely an interruption in the sunshine.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.