Saturday, March 8, 2014
What a difference a few hours makes. An east wind has dropped temperatures to very cool levels along the coast with Portland now at 51F!
I was having a rare cup of coffee this morning with a friend (I am more a tea guy) and discussing what to blog about this afternoon. He quipped, that there wasn’t much to say about nice weather which is certainly mostly true. However, all this dry weather is going to quickly become an issue as the foliage is rapidly emerging on the trees and water is being used by all the plants at a terrific rate.
Let me back up to our weather the rest of the day and into the weekend. The one weather maker, if you want to call it that, is a back door cold front already through Maine. Back door fronts move southwest from the Canadian Maritimes and change the air mass to a cooler marine type. Temperatures along the coast can drop 10 or more degrees in a very short period of time after the passage of one of these fronts.
Because the air is often quite stable behind the cold front, we don’t see much in the way of rainfall with a back door front. Unfortunately, this is the case today. Rainfall is quite low and we have, as of this week, become officially abnormally dry.
This is the first stage of a drought and next would be a moderate drought. While ground water is still relatively high due to the snow this winter, the top soil is very dry. This isn’t good for planting seeds or young perennials. It’s also a problem for newly planted trees and shrubs from the fall. It’s important to water these plants well this weekend as they are starting to grow again and will need the water.
The reason for all the dry weather is a large block in the atmosphere that is preventing the more typical flow of showers into the region. As areas of moisture move towards Maine they are drying up under very strong high pressure. As weather systems hit the high they are shunted south away from the northeast. This pattern will hold well into next week. Although there is a slight risk for a shower sometime during the middle of next week, I don’t see any significant rain in the forecast. Even glancing at the very long range models, it may be towards the end of the month before we see any big
The fire danger is very high again from the lack of rain. Fire permits have been suspended in a lot of areas or greatly reduced. Burning isn’t advisable as things can get out of control really fast. Pollen levels are also going to continue to spike and as the pine pollen increases look for a yellow film on everything. Check out the image below that shows the current state of fire conditions across Maine. Notice many areas are at very high levels of danger.
I don’t want to be a Debbie downer, so let me close on a positive upbeat note. While we need rain, this is some of the finest mid-spring weather we can possibly have here in Maine. Many parts of the country are having record snow, rain and even heat. We have had nearly ideal weather for over a week and it will continue for at least that much longer. Whether you are going for a run, taking your lunch outside or just mowing the lawn Mother Nature is providing this part of the country with a real treat. We know weather has a way of doing a balancing act and if it ends up raining all summer, at least we will have had great spring.
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.