Saturday, March 8, 2014
Snow is now falling across much of southern Maine and will spread northward this afternoon. Already the roads are becoming slippery from Sanford to Windham and into Portland. The green areas below on the radar show the heavier bands of snow as of about 3 PM this afternoon. These bands will continue to move north for the rest of the day.
As I was walking across the campus of Colby College last evening, I noticed how big and bright the moon looked with the light shinning down on what little snow remains. A few high wispy clouds crossed the sky, that was a sign of warmer air that eventually will move north and cause some problems for us this evening.
The worst of the bad weather is going to remain to our west and sections of the upper Midwest and Ohio valley are seeing a full-fledged ice event. There will be power outages in parts of those areas and travel is very difficult. Freezing rain is the great equalizer when it comes to driving. You can have the biggest and best four-wheel drive machine in the world, but it’s not going to do you any good on ice. If roads become icy then they lose friction and that is what keeps you from sliding around.
While I am not expecting an ice storm here, we will have some hazardous driving conditions this evening. Our weather event will begin late this afternoon in York County and continue into the overnight hours. I'll be updating the forecast on Twitter at @growingwisdom also watch my gardening tips at GrowingWisdom.com.
Temperatures will slowly be climbing during that time and eventually approach freezing. Preceding the warm air will be a burst of snow. I am expecting a dusting to 5 inches of snow in that initial burst. The heaviest amount look to be interior York and Cumberland Counties with the least north of Waterville. Untreated surfaces will become hazardous as the roads are very cold from the past week of frigid temperatures. This means that the precipitation will create a layer of ice very quickly and is the reason travel may become difficult tomorrow afternoon and for the commute home. The snow will break out from 3 PM to 6 PM southwest to northeast from York to Augusta.
During the evening temperatures will stay below freezing this means that travel will be impacted throughout the night. I suspect the Maine Turnpike will lower speeds to 45 miles per hour for some stretches of the roadway between Kittery and the capital district.
Tonight the main area of precipitation will depart and we will have some scattered sleet and freezing rain the rest of the night. By Tuesday morning temperatures along the coastal plain will be rising and eventually break the freezing mark for the first time since January 20th. Inland there will be some pockets of icing early in the morning. Untreated surfaces will be slick but the roads should be fine.
As the milder air streams northward temperatures will continue to rise and reach near 40F by late Tuesday afternoon along the immediate coast up to about Portland. The rest of the area will reach the middle 30s. Tuesday night our temperatures will rise or remain steady. This will set up a very mild day for Wednesday when the highs will get into the upper 40s and lower 50s! If we get just a few hours of sunshine some of us could see 55F degree reading before the end of the day. In Portland the record Wednesday is 53F and while I expect that record to stand it gives you an idea of how warm we can get. Rain showers will cross the area at night Wednesday as a cold front approaches. These showers could be quite heavy and with the frozen ground big puddles on the roads will be seen. Thursday the showers will end as colder air filters into the area. While the upper 40s will be gone, our highs Thursday will still run above normal in the lower 40s. Colder and dry weather returns for the end of the week. There is the chance for some light snow late Saturday night or early Sunday but right now the biggest impact that storm will have is that it will pull down more cold air to start next week. I know we are in need of natural snow, but I am just not seeing any snowstorms in sight.
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.