Monday, December 9, 2013
There is good news and bad news this weekend for winter sports enthusiasts. We will have very mild air over the region both Saturday and Sunday. I expect many towns in southern Maine to exceed 50F for a real January treat. Even in ski country the snow will soften in the afternoon for some marginally spring like conditions. That is the good news, the bad news is that two days of mild weather will melt some of the snow and the ice on some ponds and lakes is going to take a break from thickening. I can't tell you how your favorite body of water is doing in terms of ice thickness, but be careful on some of the larger bodies of water that may not have more than 3 inches of ice. After this weekend, I expect the ice to resume becoming thicker and next weekend should see a marked increase in ice thickness across many of our lakes and ponds. I'd love to hear from you on Twitter at @growingwisdom and I regularly update the forecast there as well.
Today and tonight
As the warmer air streams north it will ride up and over the cold air at the surface. This will create, what meteorologists call lift and allow some light freezing rain to fall. There could be a few hours of icing issues with slippery conditions late tonight and the first part of Saturday. This will be especially true away from the coastal plane.
Why so mild?
We can thank the jet stream for the winter break. The jet stream is what carries air masses across the planet and this weekend the jet stream will bring mild air up the coast from the southern states. What I like about the milder air this time of the year is that it gives us a couple of days respite from the cold and saves on heating costs. What I see happening next week is that the cold air building in Canada is going to be pushing southward and moving this above normal temperature pattern out to sea. It looks like we will then have more typical cold with perhaps two days of very cold weather during next weekend.
While many places did have normal or above normal snowfall in December, thus far January has been quite snow-free. As the cold air returns next week there will be several opportunities to see some precipitation. Figuring out just how much snow or whether there will be a mixed bag of precipitation during these events is difficult. Generally, beyond 5 days, the forecast isn't very reliable. What I can say with confidence is that we will turn colder. I can also say there will be an increase in storminess. What we don't know is if those storms will track into Maine or stay to our south. January cold can often keep some of the bigger snows to our south closer to the contrast of mild and cold air. Storms need both warm and cold air to become blockbuster storms and if we stay in only cold air, we won't see storms with large amounts of snow.
Gardening this week
I have a new video to show you this week on moving a tree. You might think big deal, right? However, the tree that got moved was done so without hurting any roots. They used something called an air tool to blow the dirt away and then lift the tree to its new home. Check it out.
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.