Monday January 13, 2014 | 09:41 AM
Posted by David Epstein

The January thaw underway this weekend continues today with a stellar afternoon.  Highs will reach the mid 40s today with temperatures staying in the 30s across ski country.   While it will be bright and sunny today, there is a freezing rain advisory for the mountains later tonight and early Tuesday. If you will be driving through the areas in pink on the map, know road conditions will be highly variable for the morning commute Tuesday.

This will be a nice afternoon to be outside if you don’t mind a bit of a breeze.  Sunshine will be abundant all day and most places will see nearly 100% of the available sunshine.  If you have been suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder this year, these sunny days are opportunities to use the sunlight to help alleviate those feelings.  Staying in the sun just 15 minutes can make you feel a lot better.  It can  be difficult to find time to do this, but taking a walk at lunch is a great way to achieve this goal.

Our weather takes a downhill turn Tuesday as a weak system approaches the area.  This will bring clouds and a period of rain for the second day of the work week.  The rain looks to begin just prior to the morning commute which means wet roads and a longer commute into work.  The precipitation will end by sunset and roads should have a chance to dry out by then.  Because it will be colder in the foothills and mountains, some of those areas could see some icing.  This is a small event so the amount of any ice that does accumulate will be small.

I'll be updating my latest thinking on the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom.  I'd love to chat with you there.

Temperatures continue mild much of this week so the bulk, if not all precipitation will fall in the form of rain.  A few more rain or snow showers can occur Wednesday and Thursday.   Thursday we will have to watch a storm system moving to our east.  The proximity of the storm to the coastline will determine how heavy our precipitation is on Thursday and also what for it will be in.  Right now, I don’t expect enough cold air for much snow in Portland, although as you move inland some snow could occur.  This system could also easily miss us, more on this as we get closer to Thursday.

Thaws in January while often part of winter, are not welcome for everyone. The ski areas hate seeing a warm week after having the snowpack build during the first part of winter.   If you earn a living sanding and plowing, a break in your cash flow for too long can be difficult.  Looking ahead I don’t see any big storms in sight. 

There are so many tools  and maps I can use to make a long range forecast.  One of the easiest to understand is now much snow, in total, will fall over a period of time.  The map below shows how much snow might fall from today until about January 23rd.   Of course, this map isn’t accurate.  The reason I use it is to see trends.  What it tells me is it will be mild along the coast and colder inland and if a storm occurs, the heaviest snow would be inland and over the mountains.  This is in stark contrast to the same maps back in late December which showed much of the upcoming snow would be along the coast.  It’s but one piece of information, but still helps predict the upcoming weather.

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About the Author

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.

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