Friday, December 6, 2013
After our small snow event earlier this week a blast of typical January cold is greeting Mainers today. Temperatures are running close to 20 below zero in the far north to near 10 along coastal areas around Portland and points south. These temperatures are not unusual and not even close to record cold. In Portland, back in 1971, it was 22 below zero on this date and the record for tomorrow is 26 below zero that same year. That reading ranks as the coldest day ever recorded in January. Over the past 20 years, we tend not to see that sort of extreme cold anymore, but that doesn't mean that we couldn't. As an aside, that winter of 1970-1971 still ranks as one of the worst ever in Portland with 141.5 inches of snow and several days of record cold
I'll be tweeting about the cold and any upcoming snow on Twitter at @growingwisdom send me your questions there.
When it comes to temperature, the criteria for how the media speaks about cold and heat is different in various parts of the country. For example, I was watching weather forecasts from southern California last week and they were sensationalizing their cold, lows in the 30s and highs in the 50s, the same way the media will talk about our cold next week. While our temperatures next week will stay in the teens during the day,and get near or below zero at night, that would mild in parts of North Dakota. My point here is that I think the upcoming cold snap shouldn't be a big story here in Maine. Yes, if you work outside it's going to be a rough week, but for most of us, this is winter.
Our weather today will be cold, but it's suppose to be cold in January and highs in the teens and 20s is expected. For the weekend, a milder flow of air will move into Maine and temperatures will rise above freezing in many places both Saturday and Sunday. Sunday, some spots in southern Maine could nudge 40F before falling back towards dark.
An arctic front, the divide between the mild weekend air and the cold of next week, will push through Sunday and by Monday morning temperatures will be back in the single numbers, Even colder air moves into Maine and will be present through most of the work week. The core of the cold will be felt Tuesday through Thursday as highs will stay in the teens and lower 20s. At night the mercury will fall below zero from Portland north and single numbers along the coast south of the city. Far northern Maine will stay below zero for many days in a row starting Sunday night and last all week.
By next weekend the cold will moderate and temperatures should recover a bit. When this cold snap is over I don't expect any records to have been set yet headlines and warnings about the cold will be pervasive. I believe the hype about the cold says several things: First, we don't see major cold as frequently as we did 30 or 40 years ago. Back then, cold like we will see next week wouldn't have made headlines, now, after several mild winters, it does. Second, our last really cold January was 9 years ago, people have short memories and I'll be many of you don't even remember that year. Third, weather makes for good headlines. The facts are snow, cold, heat and any other meteorological phenomena that can be turned into a headline will be. Stay warm.
Gardening this week All the dry air associated with the cold isn't good for our indoor houseplants. Recently, I took a trip to greenhouse and saw how they care for their plants in winter. Hopefully, some of the tips help to keep your plants healthy until spring. 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.com
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.