Saturday, March 8, 2014
Another relatively mild day in mid-January and you might be thinking could winter be over? Don’t be lulled into a false sense that the worst is over just yet. How much more snow we see the between now and April is highly unpredictable, but I am very confident we are about to get quite cold once again.
Since the snow started flying in December we have received just over 3 feet of snow in most areas. Last year at this same time, Portland had seen just over 2 feet and was on its way to over 100 inches for the full season. Although we have had more snow to date, I still don’t believe we will top last year’s snow totals.
February and the first couple of weeks of March 2013 were very snowy. This winter, the pattern is different and while we certainly will see snow, there’s not likely to be as much snow as last year. If we have persistent dry arctic air with a strong flow from Canada it’s not as easy to get storms along the coast.
The long range charts are all very consistent in predicting several major shots of arctic air entering the country next week. We are just about at the bottom of the average temperature scale for the year so when we do see arctic air next week, it has the potential to be frigid. If you read my blog regularly you know averages are useless in this part of the country, however, the fact our coldest period of the year is during the second and third week of January is significant. Put another way, this shot of arctic air could rival what we saw in early January. Currently, I am still thinking then the winter is over the peak of the cold will have been that first week in January, but it’s going to be close.
Snow cover has dwindled a lot and is about half of what it was back in late December. This could impact the severity of the cold by a few degrees. The same air over a snow pack as opposed to bare ground has the potential to be many degrees colder. The snow acts as a refrigerant and reflects any heat from the sun better.
Check out forecast temperature readings for next Wednesday. This is just an early look at the cold, but you can see the days of 50F, 40F and perhaps even 30F are coming to a rapid end.
Early tonight as a weak system brushes the area you might see a snow shower, but most of you will not see any precipitation. It won’t be very cold either with lows just below freezing.
Friday is going to be a very nice day by January standards and while we won’t hit the mid 40s, we will see some town near 40F in the afternoon. A low pressure area will develop near us Friday night and Saturday, but most of the moisture remains off the coast. There will be a chance of a period of showers of rain or snow early Saturday.
Sunday is dry with a blend of clouds and sunshine. While temperatures will be above freezing, rising into the mid-30s, it will feel quite cold compared to our recent thaw.
MLK day is dry and chilly, but not very cold for January. If you are thinking winter is over, think again. It’s going to turn quite cold late next week and while the coldest of air will likely stay over the Midwest, we are going to see several shots of arctic air after the 23rd which could last into the first half of February.
As far as snow, there could be some snow showers over the weekend, but a possible snow event next week is looking very unlikely right now.
I’ll be updating the forecast on Twitter@growingwisdom. Please follow me there.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.