Rain mostly over, sunny days ahead & how-to read those maps

After four dry and sunny days, the rain of this morning is now ending. If it’s going to rain, I think most of us would agree Wednesday is a good day for it to happen. For those of you with a mid-week golf game or your kids have practice of some sorts this afternoon, the rain will be over but there still will be drizzle in the air at times. After today’s rain, I expect several days of super June weather with plenty of sunshine and pleasant temperatures. There is no major heat or humidity in sight.


Earlier today I noticed some interesting weather on the surface map. The map above shows the conditions from this morning. This is called the surface map because it is taking observations from the surface. I circled two stations for us to chat about in order for you to be able to read the map. I’ll go back to the forecast in a couple of paragraphs, so you can pass this over if you are not interested. I also give quick updates, on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at Surface maps are great because they give a nice picture of temperature, dew point, sky conditions, any precipitation, wind and pressure. It’s the most commonly used, and I think easiest to understand, of the pure meteorological maps. The two stations we are going to look at are Timmins and Quebec, Canada. These stations stand alone and were easiest for me to circle. Take a look at the black circle, the station is YQB. That is the airport code for Quebec City. The top number, in black, is the temperature. So, it’s 64 degrees Fahrenheit there. The blue number, the 63, is the dew point. Right now, the dew point is close to the temperature. When these two numbers are close, the air is moist. It doesn’t mean it’s humid, just moist. A temperature of 28F and a dew point of 27F would also be moist, but certainly not humid. Right now, there, it feels muggy. The two green dots are the symbol for light rain. Three dots would be moderate rain and four dots heavy rain. There are symbols for sleet, snow, hail, smoke, haze and all sorts of things.


Now, lets look at the sky condition. That black circle in the middle tells us the sky condition. A black circle is cloudy, a white or clear circle is clear. Half and half, partly cloudy, etc. In Quebec it is cloudy this morning. The red, 082, is the coded pressure. This is the hardest number to decode, although not that hard. The last number is always in tenths. So that 2 is really point 2. So we have 08.2. Now we just have to add a 9 or a 10 in front. Whichever of those two numbers makes the final number closest to 1000, that is what you add. In this case, a 10. So the pressure is 1008.2 millibars. Average pressure is 1013 millibars. A big snowstorm is 980 millibars. Sometimes the station models put the tendency of the pressure as well. In other words, is the pressure rising or falling. Lastly, lets decode the wind. Meteorologists speak about where wind comes from, not where it is going. An east wind for example comes from the east. If the wind was a car, it would be on the Pike going westbound.


My students mix this up all time. On the weather map, the wind is given by a symbol made of two pieces. The first piece, the staff, tell us where the wind is coming from.


The second piece the barbs, tell us how fast that wind is blowing. Back to Quebec, the staff is pointing to the southeast, that tells us the wind is coming from the south east. There is
half a barb on the staff, that is a five knot wind. Sometimes the station models put the tendency of the pressure as well. In other words, is the pressure rising or falling.
Our other station, Timmins, has a temperature of 36F and a dew point of 36F. There is fog, (horizontal lines), the pressure is 1019.4 mb and the wind is southwest at 5 knots. Here in Boston, (BOS) the temperature is 63F, the dew point is 61F the wind is south at 5 knots and the pressure is 1013.7mb.
Now that you know how to read the surface map, you can see how cool temperatures are to the west. Notice there are clear skies in that part of the country. Those are the clear skies that will be here for the end of the week and the weekend.
Next few days
This afternoon, we have a cold front moving through the area. This front is helped to bring up a large area of rain along the coast earlier today.


Temperatures will be cool today because of the lack of sunshine. There is some humidity, or mugginess to the air. There is the risk of showers through early afternoon, especially along the coast. Temperatures will be in the 60s throughout the day.
I am most excited about the clear skies that are coming for the next few days because these are our earliest sunrises of the year. I love walking early in the morning, (yes I am up at 5 AM) and the rest of the week and weekend, the sunrises will take place under sunny or partly sunny conditions. Temperatures overnight are going to be perfect for sleeping right through next Monday. If you keep your windows open during the night, it may be a bit chilly first thing in the morning. I expect temperatures around sunrise, to be in the lower and middle 50s. I know everyone is super busy, and getting up that early and actually spending some time enjoying it is very hard. However, if you can carve out even 15 minutes, get up at sunrise once over the next 5 days and just take a short walk. I find that time of the day magical.
Afternoon highs starting tomorrow will stay in the lower and middle 70s with a slow warming trend next week. A lack of extreme heat means no air conditioning will be needed and after saving on heating last winter, saving on cooling so far this spring is an added bonus. I see plenty of sunshine as well, even if we have a few clouds to start the day on Thursday.
Gardening tip of the week
All of the rain has helped my tomatoes grown incredibly fast. I no longer use cages or stakes to support them, rather I built my own system that I clip the tomatoes on. Check it out in this weeks garden video.

Remember, please follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at


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