Sunday, December 8, 2013
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.
Well, you knew it was going to be cold this morning. Portland is in the upper teens for its coldest morning since late last winter. The good news is that the cold isn't going to last more than another 24 hours with milder air poised to move northward late this week and into the weekend. Below are some other readings as of 6AM this morning.
The dry air over us today is creating the need to put some humidity back into the air. When temperatures get this cold and you heat the air inside your house, you lower the amount of moisture. If you are like me, and have forced hot air, the house becomes particularly dry on these cold mornings.
Since the cold won't last but another day, I'm not going to start my humidifier just yet, but it might be a good idea to check on them, clean them and bring it up from the basement.
Winter doesn't arrive until December, but it's going to feel like the 12th month for a couple of days ahead. Yes indeed, for many of you some snow is going to be in the air tomorrow for the first time this season. The ground could turn white tomorrow morning in spots, but most of the roads should remain wet, not white.I'll be updating the forecast for the snow and the warm-up later this week on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too. An arctic front is rapidly approaching the east coast from the west. This front will be offshore during Tuesday morning and behind it, the coldest air of the fall arrives. Temperatures will fall very little tonight until the front passes. Once the front goes by your area, you can expect temperatures to fall several degrees in a short period of time.
An interesting feature on our weather maps is located at 30,000 feet. As this level of the atmosphere we find the jet stream. It is here I notice very strong winds over 130 knots in places and close to 150 knots. These strong winds are moving weather systems rapidly across the country.This jet stream will put an arctic air mass eastward and bring the coldest air of the season to the area tomorrow and Wednesday. The rapid movement of air also means the cold won't last. As a matter of fact, we will warm up significantly by the end of the week and the mild air looks to remain with us all weekend. First snowAs the arctic front crosses the area early Tuesday, there will be a period of rain and snow showers developing along and just behind it. From about 1AM tomorrow morning, and during the commute, there could be a period of snow squalls lasting an hour or two. These snow showers or squalls will start at rain showers and then turn to snow as colder air moves into the area. Squalls are difficult to forecast, because like thunderstorms in the summer, not everyone sees the same thing. The squalls won't last very long, and the window of time I am speaking about allows these squalls to move from the northwest to the southeast and off the coast. Those of you west of York, Saco and Portland will be done with the squalls by 6AM and south of that line by 9AM. Based on the latest computer models I am going to forecast some whitening of the ground in parts of southern Maine the chance you could see up to an inch of snow on some grassy spots at most. If you follow my blog you know I don't hype the weather. What I am reporting is the chance of these squalls in the morning. It doesn't mean everyone is going to awake to white on the ground, rather some squalls could put down a coating and in a case or two, there could be an inchif the squalls last long enough, this is most likely in the mountains. Think of tomorrows situation very similar to a forecast of scattered thunderstorms in the summer. The first snow is notoriously difficult to predict. No one wants to be wrong about the forecast at anytime, but particularly the first snow of the season. This isn't a big storm and while the ground may turn white, it's not going to be a plowable situation.
The timing is such however, a spot or two on a few roads could become briefly icy in the morning as temperatures near freezing. However, the roads are still quite warm, so most, if not all the accumulation will fall on the grass, cars and other open ground. The image below shows where the precipitation will be at about 6AM tomorrow morning.
Snow! Yes that’s right; some snow will fall overnight and into the first part of Sunday as a warm front comes through the area. There is an area of rain and snow that will be breaking out overnight and bring the first accumulating snow to the higher elevations of Maine and New Hampshire. Areas closer to the coast could see a few wet flakes mixed in with any rain showers, but I am confident there won’t be any accumulation.
The first map below shows how much snow could fall overnight through the first part of Sunday with the second map showing how the radar should appear around 9AM Sunday.Fast moving systems are the theme for the next week. After Sunday morning, the main weather features will be a couple of cold fronts to move through and bring clouds and just the chance of some light precipitation. Afternoon temperature readings will fluctuate several degrees between fronts, before dramatically falling behind an arctic front later Monday. It’s quite early in the year to have an arctic front make it this far south, but that’s what we have coming Monday night. Behind this front the coldest air of the season will blast into the area providing a couple of days that are going to feel like Christmas, not two weeks before Thanksgiving. The core of the cold air will be here for Wednesday when I expect the maximum temperatures to remain in the 30s along the coast. Some spots across the mountains only reach the 20s for highs and the snow guns will be running full blast at many of your favorite ski areas.Don’t fret, this cold snap won’t last. Towards the end of the week temperatures recover back into the 40s during the day and may get back closer to 50DF next weekend. Tropical Storms No doubt you heard about a big typhoon which caused devastation across parts of the Philippines. The death toll will likely exceed 10,000, just an increadibly sad story. That storm is now weaker but will impact parts of Vietnam and China over the next several days. There is already another potential storm looming on the horizon for the first part of next week that could add insult to injury. It’s unfortunate because these people suffered a major earthquake this fall as well. It seems like they just can’t catch a break over there.While that part of the world has experienced an active tropical season, our season has been one of the quieter ones in recent years. The official end to hurricane season in the Atlantic comes to an end on November 30th and unless something dramatically changes, we aren’t going to see any tropical development through the end of the season. Less Daylight The light continues to shrink each day. We continue to lose about 2 minutes of daylight, evenly spread between morning and evening. The rate at which the light decreases will slow each day through the 21st of December. At the end of November we lose about a minute and a half of daylight, but that rate slows to under a minute for the second and third weeks of December. After the winter solstice, the light increases slowly gaining 2 seconds on the 22nd and speeds up to a minute by the end of the first week in January. The next 8 weeks are the darkest of the year, so try to get outside on sunny days and let the sun hit your face. Your sleep and general mood will be better if you can expose yourself to some sunlight, especially before 1PM. This will help keep your body clock regulated and lessen the effects of season affective disorder.
Gardening this week
This week my video is on raised beds and how they can help extend the season. I show you several ways you can use raised bed or cold frames to allow your gardening to start earlier and end later each year.
Much of southern Maine missed out on the rain yesterday as our dry spell remains firmly entrenched. Temperatures ended up reaching the lower 60s in many spots during the first part of Thursday before falling back in the afternoon. The reason for the dramatic drop in readings was a cold front that pushed offshore.
For the next couple of days our air will be cool and dry originating up in Canada. The dry flow will prevent any rain or snow activity and will lead to abundant sunshine, especially along the coastal plain.
Temperatures the next few days will be seasonably cool. I expect Saturday to be the pick of the weekend with moderate winds and temperatures well into the 40s to near 50F along the coast of York county.
On Sunday a weak storm will pass to our north and bring with it clouds and the slight risk of a shower. When I say slight, I mean most of you will see no rain. Across the mountains of western Maine it will be cold enough there could be a few wet snowflakes mixed with any light showers that do occur.
I'll be updating the forecast for the week on Twitter at @growingwisdom Please follow me there. Feel free to comment or ask questions too.It's still early in November and cold and snow are not often part of the forecast. Indeed, this year while we have just experienced the coldest air of the season, I still don't see any prolonged cold or snow in the forecast. Skiing isn't something many folks are doing yet and there is only one mountain open in that other state two over from here. Sunday River had a day or two skiing back in October, but the lack of prolonged cold makes it impractical to make snow only to have it melt away. What I see on the long-term horizon is a continued dry spell lasting at least the next 10 days. In terms of cold, there are a couple of cold pushes from Canada through the middle of the month, but each cold wave is followed about 2 days later by warming. This means while we will have cold days over the next couple of weeks, I see the warmth trying to take over each time, leading to a lack of prolonged cold. Any Storms?The jet stream configuration is also not showing signs of bearing any significant precipitation. This has become a big enough issue to our south that much of coastal southern New England is now officially in a moderate drought. You may think droughts aren't a factor in fall or winter, but indeed they are and if they last, can cause big issue next spring and summer. One of the models I use to make my forecasts shows under an inch of precipitation through the end of the month. Would that to occur, I think the drought area would expand northward and begin to include parts of southern Maine. General ForecastYou will see some high clouds today, but on balance it's a nice day with milder air. The high in Portland and surrounding areas will reach the 50s. Overnight, with a southerly flow of wind and clouds temperatures will stay above freezing. There could be a spot shower towards morning. Thursday features a lot of clouds, but a few breaks of sunshine as well. During the middle part of the day a few showers will cross the state. I am not expecting a washout of a day, nor am I expecting much in the way of rainfall. The image below is a forecast radar (what the models think the radar will look like) for 1 PM Thursday. Notice the areas of green are scattered rather than in one large blog of rain. The exact placement of those rain showers won't be correct, but you get the general idea of the scattered nature of the rainfall. Friday clears out and brings a return of sunshine, but brisk conditions. It will be a Winnie the Pooh blustery sort of day, with highs only in the 40s. There is a risk for a quick flurry in the mountains to start the morning. The weekend brings sunshine and typical November temperatures for Saturday followed by some increase in clouds for Sunday as a weak front approaches. A chance of showers returns along with those clouds, but the majority of the day is dry. Highs over the weekend remain in the middle and upper 40s. Gardening this weekFor me fall is a time of year I tend to cook more. My cooking also changes somewhat as the garden is not producing as much and there are different things available in the stores. With the heat of summer gone, I can make more stews and sauces that need to cook longer without the far of heating up the kitchen. This week, my video shows how to make an easy tomato sauce that is sure to impress.