Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Clouds are on the increase today and the sky will look quite wintry later this afternoon. Yesterday I had a several people ask about the snowstorm for today. While there is the word "snow" in the forecast, there isn't a snowstorm on the way. One of the problems with the internet, and there are many, is that forecasts get boiled down to images. When you look at the forecast via your cell phone or even favorite web page they often use the most outlying part of the forecast for the icon. You have to look at the specifics of the forecast, the chance of precipitation and the actual words that go along with the prediction.
I'll be updating my weather forecast with any changes on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.
Look at the images (above) used today on one internet site. You might think that it will cloudy all day today and that there will be quite a bit of rain. This is clearly not the case. There isn't a cloud in the sky this morning and they won't move in until later today. The specifics of the forecast show that the amounts of snow and rain will be quite small. The chance of rain is just 30%, meaning a 70% chance nothing will fall. Tonight when the picture shows more snow and rain, the amounts forecast are quite small. The reason the picture show rain today is that there is a slight chance of a rain shower this afternoon. The computer program is told to take any mention of precipitation for the forecast period and use an image with that form of precipitation. I suspect in the future the images will get more sophisticated and show the changing nature of the weather better, but for now be sure to read into the specifics. In this case, a picture isn't worth a 1000 words.
The weather system that is moving through the region later this evening and Thursday is quite weak. While there will be clouds on the increase today and a few rain and snow showers tonight, this is a nuisance event and nothing more. The next two images show how little precipitation is forecast to fall and where there might be some snow. This isn't to say that the ground couldn't become white in a few spots for a few hours very early tomorrow morning, but you won't be shoveling or hearing plows scraping on the pavement. Ski areas could see a 1 or 2 inch snowfall, especially in the very highest terrain.
The psychological effects of seeing more snow are another matter all together. I know this is the time of year many of you would like to not see any more snow, even if it doesn't accumulate. The good news is that skiing continues to be great and the Easter bunny will be able to shush down the slopes all weekend.
The entire weekend is looking very nice as we close out the month in lamb-like fashion. Sunshine, light winds and seasonable temperatures will make this weekend one of the nicest of the entire month. April showers or even downpours are in the forecast early next week as a more significant storm with lots of water threatens the area. This next storm could stay south of the area and just give parts of southern Maine some rain. I am not expecting a flooding rain storm, but certainly a more significant event is possible than the next twenty-four hours will bring.
Gardening this week I have part of my garden under protective greenhouse plastic so I was able to plant my peas Sunday. Even if you don't have a hoop house or cold frame, I think you will be able to do some work around the yard this week and certainly by the weekend. I'll be updating gardening tips and weather information on Twitter at @growingwisdom please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.Tweet
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.