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.
If the sun seems a bit brighter today it’s because it sort of is. As we reach the final week of February the sun has given us back a full quarter of the light we lost since last summer began. It’s a long road to spring in New England and someday it seems like it’s never coming, but it always does.
The rain and the thunder yesterday certainly sounded and looked more like a late day in summer. The line of storms was quite intense and even produced a tornado in the metro Washington of Maryland. This was the first time since 1960 there had been a February tornado. The sun is over 10 degrees higher in the sky at noon this time of year and will have risen 15 degrees since its lowest point early next week. The additional light helps melt the snow, even when the temperatures are not quite over the freezing mark.
The upcoming week is going to be cold, but if you look at any area where the land slopes towards the sun the snow will still be vanishing. If you travel along the Massachusetts Turnpike heading west, look on the right side. You will notice bare ground becoming increasingly common even if there is still a lot of snow on flatter surfaces.
Most of southern Maine saw more accumulating snow yesterday as a fast moving storm crossed the area during the afternoon. As has been the case with so many storms this year, the snow came down hard and fast and accumulated at 1 to 2 inches per hour. The snow didn’t last long, but it was enough to make driving very difficult and felt like another slap in the face from Old Man Winter. Some areas saw up to 4 inches of snow, with Portland receiving 1.7 inches in the afternoon.
One’s experience of winter in Maine seems to fall into two camps. There are those of us who embrace winter snowmobiling, ice fishing, winter camping, skiing, snowboarding, skating, snowshoeing and simply enjoying the nesting atmosphere the winter creates.
On the other side of the coin are those who see it as something to get through. We dread the driving, the shoveling, the heating bills, the lack of seeing our lawn for 4 months, having to wear layer upon layer and we wish it wasn’t so dark all the time.
I tend to fall into both camps and depending on the day, I lean one way or another. This year I have done a lot of snowshoeing, but have yet to make it up to Sunday River to ski. I am still hoping I can get a few runs in before the snow does melt later in April. I’m also very tired of shoveling and my heating bill is 50% higher than I expected back in October which of course limits funds for other things. Perhaps you are finding the same thing. I already keep the heat at 60F all day and allow myself a few hours of 63F at night, what a treat!
Now that the snow has started across southern Maine it will become increasingly heavy and continue that way through the evening. At times the snow may fall at nearly 3 inches per hour making driving close to impossible. In southern New England, when these bands of snow occured some spots saw nearly 6 inches in 3 hours. The radar below is from just before 3PM, but you can see the motion of the snow. The snow continues heavy until between 6 and 9PM. The remainder of the blog below is from earlier today.
The reason for the snow is a weather system moving eastward this morning from the Great Lakes area, but then redeveloping in to a new storm just off the coast. As the storm then moves northward into the Gulf of Maine an area of snow and rain will occur.
A rapidly developing coastal nor’easter will bring a period of heavy snow to coastal York and Cumberland Counties with lighter snow inland. Further east toward the Mid-Coast and through Down-East Maine near blizzard conditions will prevail overnight with snowfall exceeding a foot east of Penobscot bay. The heaviest snow will remain east of Rockland and very little snow will fall over interior areas of Maine.
Explosive cyclogeneis or bombogenesis are meteorological terms used to describe the rapid intensification of a low pressure system or storm. What is happening atmospherically is the air is rushing off the planet so fast it creates a hole with less air in the middle of the storm. Then air rushes in to replace the rapidly rising air and results in a lot of wind. It’s sort of like digging a hole at the beach and watching the water fill it up quickly. This is the weather situation we have developing later during the night.
Picture yourself trying whack someone with your hand, I’ll let you choose who it is. If at the same time you extend your arm to impact them, you started moving away you might miss them. If you move quickly, you give them a glancing blow and if you slow down they feel the full impact of your hand. The big ocean storm is on the move and thefore is going to just brush areas just west of Gray while hitting areas east of Rockland full force.
When I saw the new run of the computer models and the European and the GFS and the NAM (all names for our models) pointed to another plowable to major snowstorm my heart kinda sank. I guess we can consider this a 24 hour reprieve between big systems. As if that wasn’t fun enough, more snow is possible Tuesday night or Wednesday from a clipper type system. That could bring several inches ahead of the milder air for later next week.
I am going to keep this blog rather short this evening. We all know what these storms bring at this point. There are some unique aspects to every storm. This is going to be a quick hitting storm which happens in about 12 hours between 4PM Saturday and early Sunday morning. The storm will still rage for the first few hours after sunrise Sunday over Down East Maine. The snow totals are going to increase dramatically from Portland to Penobscot bay where nearly a foot could fall. Some places in far eastern Maine could approach 2 feet if the storm track and intensity are just right (or wrong depending on your perspective)