Weather

Early Chill Might Help Predict Upcoming Winter

I spent much of yesterday planting some small conifers in the garden. While this blog is about weather, the lack of rain was really evident as I dug into the soil. I wasn’t surprised by the dusty soil, but was unhappy nonetheless. I know it’s been a great stretch of weather for weeks and weeks for all of us to enjoy, but we do need rain badly in many parts of the area.

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It’s not the lack of rain, but the chilly air you’ll be talking about tomorrow morning and again Saturday morning. A cold pool of air from Canada will make itself quite apparent over the next 24-48 hours, before milder and more summer-like air takes over later this weekend, followed by another cooler shot of air next week.

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This isn’t going to be record breaking cold. The record for Boston tomorrow is 42F set back in 1929. Saturday morning will be a bit colder and will get closer to that date’s record of 42F set back in 1979, but will still miss the mark.

There is limited moisture with the front marking the leading edge of the chilly air so it will basically pass unnoticed by most of you. The wind will flip direction to the north as the front passes and the pressure will rise a bit.

Overnight there are multiple frost and freeze watches, warnings, and advisories for parts of Northern New England and New York. The map below is as of early this morning for tomorrow, and will likely change during the day as each National Weather Service office updates the situation for their zone of coverage. I would not be surprised if some far western areas of southern New England see a frost advisory, but most of the region, while chilly tomorrow, will remain frost free. This means you can leave plants as they are without worrying they will be damaged by frost.

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The frost predicted isn’t really early and well within the average range of a first fall frost. (see below)

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It’s not just frost in the forecast for some area of then northeastern North America. Several inches of snow is forecast to fall across parts of Labrador and Newfoundland over the next couple of days. Check out the snowfall map below (if you dare). Notice there is an area that sees nearly a foot of snow! This is a bit early, even for those folks. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a bad winter, however.

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There are many forecasts out already predicting a very cold and snowy winter, and while this may very well be the case, I’d like to wait a bit longer into fall before predicting the winter forecast. Some companies need to make predictions for their clients well ahead of the actual season as it’s part of a contract. For me, I like to see the September and October pattern and how it sets up before committing to the winter forecast.

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Early cold and snow doesn’t mean a bad winter. Interestingly, many of our milder overall winters have started with cold and snow in October. On Oct. 10, 1979, two-tenths of an inch of snow fell in Boston with several inches west and north of the city. The rest of the winter saw only another 12.5 inches for one of the least snowy winters on record. Our most recent mild winter of 2011-2012 started with an inch of snow in October followed by one of the least snowy winters since World War II.

If you look at Octobers in which snow fell early, most of them end up with average or below-average snow the rest of the winter. So, while it may seem counter-intuitive, if you are not a fan of the white stuff, start rooting for it early.

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