Over the weekend I wanted to take a drive to get some lunch. Since it had been snowing, I asked my neighbor how the roads were. She said if you are true Mainer, they are fine. While I don’t like to take risks driving if I don’t need to, her point about living in Maine was made – snow and cold are part of winter.

This week, cold and wind are the primary weather elements we will be facing. While heat is made worse by humidity, cold is made worse by wind. For the next day or two, the wind is going to be the big factor in our weather. There are wind chill advisories posted for the mountains. You’ll need to wear cold weather gear if you are skiing.

A storm in eastern Canada is creating a gradient of pressure over Maine and the attempt of the atmosphere to balance this is why it is somewhat windy.

winds mlk2131
The cold isn’t unusual

While temperatures are below average the next few days, they will still be well within a typical range for the third week of January. As a matter of fact, this week is climatologically our coldest week of the year. What that means is if you took the average temperature over the past 30 years of all 52 weeks, this one would come out the lowest.

I can’t possibly know exactly how much more arctic air is destined for the region, but it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibility that this week is one of the top two coldest of the entire winter. Last year, of course, was an anomaly as February was the coldest month.

The second half of the week features seasonably cold air, less wind and plenty of sunshine. It will feel quite comfortable after two to three days of wind and cold.

I’ve already seen all sorts of predications for the weekend storm. It’s not prudent or accurate to start throwing out accumulation totals on a five-day forecast. The atmosphere is fluid, and if you watch the loop below of the water vapor moving across North America, you can really see what I mean. Because fluids move in reasonably predictable ways, computer models are able to forecast what’s going to happen in the future.

sat_wv_hem_loop

However, there are limitations in this forecast and slight changes in the next 48 hours can have large impacts on the weekend storm. Nearly all the models agree: there’s going to be a coastal storm and even the different versions of the same model, the ensembles, see a large coastal storm around Saturday.

Odds favor at least some snow

At this point in the week, I’m comfortable talking about odds. The odds are probably 60 percent at least southern Maine will see accumulating snow this weekend. That also still leaves a 40 percent chance we won’t. The odds are closer to 90 percent that a storm will develop in the first place, which is why you are likely hearing about it already. How far north and west the snow shield will spread is still a big question.

ens meands

Here’s what I would do to get ready for a possible storm five days away: Check the snow blower, and make back-up plans if you have to travel this weekend either by air or car. You could move a flight at this point from the weekend, knowing the move might be completely unnecessary. I’ll be updating the forecast here and on Twitter @growingwisdom in the coming days.