Friday, March 7, 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.
After a day with a blend of clouds and sunshine the snow has broken out across southern Maine. This is going to be a very light snowfall with barely a breath of wind overnight. Highs today reached the mid-20s and won’t fall further than the mid-teens by morning. The snow will be very light and easy to push away.
The snow isn’t going to amount to anything significant overnight with a generally 1 to 2 inch fall region wide. A few towns could hit 3 inches, but those would be the upper limits of this event. The good news for commuters is the snow will be over just prior to sunrise, giving the towns a chance to put down melting product and/or plow. Some municipalities will plow at just over an inch while others wait until 2 inches fall. Either way, this isn’t going to be a big deal.
You might want to be sure you have a full reservoir of windshield fluid as there will be a lot of spray flying up from the car in front of you tomorrow morning. I am already hating the fact my car is going to turn white with the salt/calcium mixture drying all over the paint.
The big weather story this week is the next shot of arctic air poised to enter the country and spill eastward. Once again our temperatures are going to be very cold and highs on Tuesday and Wednesday will not rise out of the 20s. At night it will be colder of course. I am expecting Wednesday morning to find many readings in the single numbers below zero again.
So what happened to the big potential storm this weekend? The basic answer is the two jet streams some computer models were forecasting to come together Sunday will now stay apart. In order to get a blockbuster snowstorm you need to have the northern and southern branches of the jet stream merge. You can still have a snowstorm with just one piece of the upper flow, but the majority of our largest storms come from when the two merge.
Unlike the storm on Wednesday were nearly all the models agreed what would be happening nearly a week ahead of time, the Sunday storm was never a sure bet. When you have so much variance between all the data we use, it’s not a good idea to forecast any one solution.
As the storm passes our area this weekend, it will throw a cloud shield across the sky. Saturday will be the brightest of the two weekend days. Sunday, with the cloud cover and the chance of snow shower and flurries will be a raw and chilly day. If you are skiing, you will need good goggles to bring out the contours of the slopes from the flat light.
Next week continues cold and dry for at least the first half of the week. Temperatures are running up to 10 degrees under the 30 year average. Averages of course are just a bunch of extremes in this part of the country. In any given year it temperatures in February can be well below zero or in the mid 40s.
The storm is now mostly over with snow totals 6-8 inches quite common in southern Maine. A few spots hit more than the 8 inch mark with areas to the east and north of Augusta seeing the least amount of snow. Many ski areas saw up to 8 inches of fresh powder for one of the first significant snowfalls in a few weeks.
There will be a bit of snow through 8 or 9 PM, but the bulk of the accumulation is over from Portland south. North of Portland there could be another inch.
Temperatures will fall to cold levels overnight with single number in the north and near 10F at the coast. Skies will clear and you will see a setting moon in the west late at night. If you are up before sunrise, notice Venus in the eastern sky about where the sun rises.
Snow has quickly overspread southern Maine this morning and will continue throughout the day. The heaviest snow will occur between now and early afternoon, but snow will still fall through the evening commute.
Hundreds of flights have been cancelled, so please call your airline before venturing out today. It’s going to take a couple of days for the system to catch up as cancellations are widespread from Portland to Boston and south to New York.
Type of snow
It’s a quiet day today with a lot of sunshine. There will be some late day clouds, but enough sun to help boost temperatures into the lower and middle 30s. Clouds are going to increase tonight and snow breaks out between 5AM and 7AM on Wednesday. It snows hardest from about 7AM until around 1PM from Portland south, with the heaviest snow from 10AM until 5PM in the capitol district and mountains. This is the time most of the accumulation will occur.
It’s going to be cold enough for the precipitation to fall as all snow the entire storm. I am not concerned about rain or sleet mixing into the storm
When does the snow occur?
This is a bit risky for me to do because it’s impossible to do this for the entire area. This will give you a generally feeling for the intensity of the storm and what to expect. For the Portland metro area this is what I am thinking.