Thursday, December 12, 2013
Rain and wind will be on the docket for the first few hours of winter which began just after 6 this morning. The large storm that caused a blizzard across the Midwest is currently moving through the northeastern corner of the country. As this storm heads into Canada, a warm flow off the Atlantic will continue to push inland changing any snow to rain as far west as the mountains.
You can see on the image below the rain area headed through Maine. As of 11AM this area continue to push into southern Maine. While there has been some rain and moutain snows aleady this morning the heaviest rain will move through the area between now and 3 PM this afternoon. Winds will also continue to increase reaching their peak about the same time.
Ski country snow
While the snow will mix with and even change to rain across ski country, there will be several inches of snow before the changeover and not a lot of rain once the changeover happens. This is important because I am not looking for much melting of the snowpack just days before the Christmas break.
The winter solstice
You might wonder when we say winter arrived this morning what exactly does that mean? As the Earth revolves around the Sun different parts of the earth are facing the sun directly at any given time. They way I explain this concept to my college kids is to have them hold up their left hand and make a fist. Go ahead, no one is looking. Your fist is the sun.
Now take your right hand and point your finger at your left, tilting that finger at your fist such that your fingerprint faces the other hand. Your fingerprint is the ground and this represents summer. Notice how the sun is shining directly on the earth. Now, move your right hand around your left fist continuing to keep it tilted. Notice your finger print is no longer pointed at the sun, this is winter. Because the Earth is also tilted different parts of the planet get different amounts of sun each day. Today, we have the least amount of daylight of the entire year. Additionally, the sun is as low as it ever gets at noon. At noon today the sun will only be 23 degrees above the horizon.
Contrast this fact about our winter sun, with this one about summer. On the first day of summer the sun reaches about 70 degrees above the horizon at noon. This is why we have such a problem with solar glare in the winter and virtually none in the summer. Put another way, the sun's maximum height this time of the year is the same as we have before 8AM in the summer!
I am already turning my forecasting eyes to another storm for the middle of next week. This storm looks to be give all of Maine a better chance for snow including coastal cities and towns. The exact track and strength of this storm will determine what we ultimately see, so stay tuned.
Christmas tree care Christmas is the time to either get your tree or keep the one you have healthy for a few more weeks. Check out the video below on how to care for and select the perfect tree. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this blog or any others. Please follow me on Twitter at @growingwisdom and check out my latest videos at GrowingWisdom.comTweet
David Epstein has been a meteorologist for more than 25 years. He spent 16 years in Boston and currently freelances at WGME13 in Portland.
In 2006, David founded GrowingWisdom.com, a business producing educational and marketing videos for the green industry. He currently is a professor at Framingham State College, teaches Jan Plan at Colby College and owns Bloomscapes Inc., a landscape design business.
David authored "Gardens Of New England" and his work has been published in Grolier's Science Annual for 10 years. He lives in South Natick, Mass., and has a summer home in Harpswell.