Thursday, April 17, 2014
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.
It’s a record cold morning for Portland and southern Maine with many areas in the lower 20s and teens. Fryeburg is coming in at 15 degrees with Portland, as I write at just before 6 a.m., hitting 23, which broke the record of 24 set back in 2003.
You can thank high pressure from Canada for all the cold air this morning and for keeping it chilly the next couple of days. The air around high pressure systems circulates clockwise. As the high moves east today its circulation will create a cold east wind.
There are many buoys off our coastline which provide weather information to meteorologists and mariners. I checked a couple of these this morning and found water temperatures in the upper 30s and lower 40s. This cold ocean water will chill the air above it. As the wind blows from the east towards our coastal cities and towns it will also keep the air cold. The image below shows the buoy report this morning from the one off Portland. Click here to see current data
The weather is going into drama mode today with strong wind, heavy rain, thunder, and eventually a rapid return to colder air.
A strong southerly flow over Maine this morning is transporting maritime tropical air north. Temperatures overnight didn’t fall much below 60F for a taste of summer. Although there are a lot of clouds today, many areas will make it back into the middle 60s this afternoon.
We missed the lunar eclipse early this morning thanks to all the clouds. We get another chance to see some of the next eclipse on October 8th 2014. There are then two more total eclipses in 2015, both in April and October. For those of the Jewish faith, it’s interesting that all four eclipse fall on the festivals of Passover and Sukkot.
Yesterday was one of those fabulous April days when the word fabulous truly applies. I gave it a perfect score in the morning and with temperatures mostly in the 60s. I hope you agree; it was a pretty awesome day.
My day was filled spending time in the yard. During the winter, the collar that holds a threaded piece of pipe cracked. The pipe carries water from my pond to a small stream I build years ago. The stream helps aerate the pond and keep it relatively clear. When I turned the water on a couple of weeks ago the pipe started leaking and gallons of water per minute started spewing out onto the lawn.
It’s probably hard to understand how much anxiety I was feeling about the stream and the pond. It’s just a pond, it’s manmade and in the back of my mind I knew it could be fixed. No matter how much I tell myself all the yard work of spring always gets completed, there is an underlying anxiousness about each dry day and the amount of chores I have on my list. I love all of it, but sometimes it’s overwhelming. The light is growing as I write and I am already starting to think about what I need to do today.
After two weeks of running around trying to find the right 2 inch valves and controls a friend who’s an irrigation expert finally got it working around 11 AM yesterday. The sound the water running over the rocks while I was clearing leaves was particularly soothing.
I have thermometer readout next to my bed so when I get up in the morning I can see how warm or cold it is. Around 5:30, when I glanced at the reading this morning I was happy to see the number 50 staring back at me. Yesterday we started the day quite cold and frosty, but this morning a southwest wind has kept readings above freezing all night.
April mornings can still be quite cold and frosty. It’s not unheard of for inland areas to hit the mid or even lower 20s. While the next few days look mild, there are signs of a colder trend for the middle of next week.
If you are putting out flowers this weekend, pansies and heathers will do fine even against a hard freeze. Many garden centers have lettuce, kale, broccoli and onions. All of these can also be planted right now. I know those of you over inland areas north of Gray and towards Augusta still have snow on the ground. The next few days will help melt much that snow.
Over southern Maine, many of the fields have been quite wet from the recent rain, but as the grass begins to grow it will need more and more water and the lawns will continue to dry. I heard from my Dad that his favorite driving range is now open. This is going to be a great weekend to golf on any open courses.
April showers is quite cliché, but it’s also often true. After the snows of winter, April brings liquid precipitation and the opportunity for the landscape to begin greening again. There are many predictable parts of April, some of them non-meteorological. The Red Sox return to Fenway, taxes are due, the ice leaves the lakes and spring peepers begin their chorus of nightly singing.
On Sunday evening I heard one lone peeper beyond the backyard ever so slowly peeping away all alone. I was thinking, I know why you’re singing, I just wondered if there was anyone listening. My curiosity would be satisfied last evening when the sound of the peepers reached a feverish pitch and at least according to these little nocturnal frogs, spring has arrived.
There are two frontal systems crossing the region today. As I write, the first one is bringing downpours and a slow morning commute. My lawn was just beginning to dry out. I did put down corn gluten last evening before the rain. This is an organic way to help control crab grass. I am just hoping the rain isn’t so heavy this morning that it washes away.
There is a flood watch for much of the eastern two-thirds of Maine, but this is mostly for urban and small stream issues. The big rivers should stay mainly inside their banks. Ice jams are a potential problem the National Weather Service will be monitoring.