Weather

Coldest air so far this winter and even some snow on Cape Cod, but is it a pattern changer?

Happy 2016! How are you feeling about the upcoming 10 weeks of weather? Are you dreading a repeat of last year, or perhaps thinking the winter might not be so terrible? We haven’t had a day with temperatures below normal in over a month, but that’s about to change, at least for a short time.

The next 4 weeks is typically the core of winter cold. If you look strictly at averages, the bottom of the cold curve occurs around January 18th, and then slowly turns around. Every winter is different. Sometimes the coldest temperature of winter occurs early in January, other years it occurs in February. It’s similar to July and August, July is the warmer month on average, but August has brought some of the hottest record temperatures in the books.

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Last year the coldest temperature in January in Boston was 1-below zero, but the following month bested that when Logan Airport reached 3-below. What’s interesting is in spite of January having the lowest average temperatures, many New England cities have recorded their coldest month in February and their all-time lowest temperatures in February.

This week, we have two days of cold with the average temperature falling below normal. I suspect you’ll hear phrases like “bitter blast,” “frigid temperatures,” and “icy wind,” as if it’s unusual. The fact is, what’s unusual is that we haven’t seen any deep cold this winter, and the upcoming chill isn’t going to last. You will need the winter coat early this week, and the furnace will get a bit of a workout, but it’s nothing remotely out of the ordinary. The map below is for Tuesday morning’s lows.

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What’s more, a possible coastal storm around the 10th is appearing to be too warm for snow in most areas. While this could change, it’s likely partially related to the strong El Nino still present

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When Will Winter Really Kick In?
There’s a bit of a debate within the meteorological community this winter about the next 10 weeks. There is one group of forecasters and climatologists who believe the winter won’t see prolonged cold or deep snows. On the other side are those who believe, while this winter won’t be as harsh as last year, there will be a period of snow and cold in the January-through-March time frame which will elevate snows to near average and bring several periods of arctic air. Looking into the middle of the month of January, the latest outlook has the potential for colder-than-average weather, but it appear the core of it will be south and west of New England.

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It’s going to be very difficult for meteorological winter — December through February — not to be warmer than average. December was such an anomaly it would take near record cold the rest of the season to negate it.

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Snow is harder to predict, because small shifts in storm tracks can mean the difference between snow, rain, or nothing. I still remain confident in storms the rest of the winter not containing a lot of arctic air, and therefore the snow will be wetter and heavier. The rain-snow line is also going to be a factor throughout the winter.

Many local meteorologists, including myself, believe snowfall will be either average or more likely lower than average when the final numbers are counted in April. This should please many of you who are still in shock over last year. Let’s hope I don’t have to change my thinking in the coming weeks.

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