Ho Ho…Ho Hum! 12/10/18

Hello! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! It was a crisp, cold early December weekend. Saturday was borderline bitter, with temperatures mainly in the upper 20’s with a biting wind. Sunday featured less wind, which made it feel a bit more tolerable.

The main theme from the past week was the dry and cold pattern that has settled into the region. After nearly three months of relentless storms, Mother Nature decided to abruptly shut off the atmospheric river.

Is this a surprise to me? Yes it is! Obviously, we could not keep up that pace of a storm every other day for the past three months. The end result of all those storms was the wettest autumn on record for many cities and observation sites in New England.

With all that being said, I’m still amazed at how Mother Nature beats to her own drum. It wasn’t too long ago computer models were depicting a historic December on the way, with bitter cold temperatures and relentless snows. Mother Nature had other ideas, pumping the breaks on all this projected excitement.

So far December has been cold, but as for the storms…not so much! Evidence of storms from November could be seen up in New Hampshire this past weekend, with plenty of snow on the ground, about 20 miles inland from the seacoast.

Does this mean I’m abandoning my forecast for December? The short answer to this question is, no! As I mentioned in previous posts, my winter forecast is based on a seasonal level, not week to week events. This means the forecast needs to be assessed by looking at the average of the whole winter.

Yes, I’m surprised by the tranquil beginning to December. However, there are strong indications of a major pattern change around the time  of when the winter solstice arrives.

If this holds true, it fits well with past winter analogs that matches well with this year. “Our most severe winters typically set in after the winter solstice arrives.”

It could be just Mother Nature’s timetable. But my research tells me that by studying past winters with similar patterns, the worst is still ahead!

Why do I believe this? For one, we have a weak El Niño (a pool of warm water in the southern Pacific Ocean) this winter. Second, there’s a ‘blob’ of very warm water sitting in the Gulf of Alaska. Third, we are in a ‘minimum solar cycle.’

What does this all mean? These factors all point towards a massive ridge of high pressure (warm & dry), building in western Canada and Alaska this winter. As this builds in the west, a deep trough (cold & stormy) should develop in the eastern part of the United States.

Other significant factors include a disruption of the Polar Vortex. This alone would result in periods of severe winter weather. The concern is some experts are expecting a possible split of the Polar Vortex. If this occurs, this winter would not only be severe, but could set records in many locations up and down the eastern seaboard.

The Polar Vortex is a very complex mass of frigid air, spinning about in the North Pole region of earth. As winter approaches, the vortex grows in size, and begins to expand. High pressure from lower latitudes can sometimes expand north, and perturb the vortex, causing it to expand like taffy down into our latitude. When this occurs, it can lead to stretches of arctic cold outbreaks, and stormy weather here in the states. If the high pressure is strong enough, it can pinch the Polar Vortex, and cause it to split.

When this happens…watch out!! The vortex then breaks into lobes of arctic air. If this lobe gets trapped under high latitude blocking, it can result in severe winter weather conditions lasting for several weeks, if not longer at a time. Atmospheric Scientist Dr. Judah Cohen is a expert on the Polar Vortex, and has been closely monitoring the evolution here this fall and early winter. Latest projections show a rather intense pulse to the vortex beginning around Christmas. Should this occur, we may see the effects of this down at our latitude if not during Christmas week, then certainly by the new year. Should a split develop, it could mean serious winter weather ahead for us sometime this January and February.

Not to keep repeating  earlier thoughts, but my thinking has not wavered from my forecast made on November 19th.

Regardless, I’m still expecting severe winter weather conditions to slowly evolve here in New England…especially here in eastern New England, the deeper we get into winter. At this point, February is looking like when we bottom out, in terms of snow & cold.

Before that, it looks like we have another chilly week of weather ahead. Thereafter, computer models are forecasting a relaxation to the cold, leading up to the solstice.

At first glance, the prospects for a White Christmas in Boston this year look quite bleak. However, upon closer inspection of the pattern, there is some hope, yet!

If you recall, in somewhat of a Christmas miracle, Boston received a last second White Christmas last year. A fast moving storm rapidly developed right over Boston and brought a wild two hour period of blizzard  and white out conditions complete with thunder!

The storm rapidly moved through, and the rest of Christmas Day featured sunny skies, but bitterly cold temperatures. That was last year, how about this year?

Typically, Boston receives a White Christmas about one out of every 4 years, or about 25% of the time. As one travels away from the moderating influence of the Atlantic Ocean, your chances increase, quite dramatically.

For instance, for locations north and west of Rt.128, your chances increase to 2 out of 4, or about 50% of the time. If you travel even further to the north and west of I495, they increase to 3 out of 4, or 75% of the time, especially in higher elevations. This includes much of northern New England, just away from the coastline.

If you’re looking for a guaranteed White Christmas, head to northern Maine, in the Caribou region, where you have a near 100% chance of having snow on the ground for Christmas!

Looking at the long range outlook, it appears that the pattern may become more stormy the last 10 days of December. Whether we get snow just before Christmas, or just after remains to be seen, but I would say the possibility still exists. Some computer models have been hinting at a storm on Christmas Day itself!

Now for your ski and snowboarding forecast. I would rate this week a 8 out of 10, for these activities. Not bad for so early in the season. I should remain cold this week, which will allow ski resorts to continue snow making, keeping the bases deep from the storms of November. Due to natural freeze, thaw cycles, be aware of icy spots if you plan to do some skiing. Other than a some scattered snow shower activity, it still appears as if we are in a mainly dry pattern.

Later in the week and towards next weekend, a very complex pattern may develop. A storm may try and develop off the Mid Atlantic, and track north towards New England. At first, many though a big rainstorm was coming. However, latest data suggests another cold front may drop down from Canada, and actually squish this storm south, and keep it in the ocean. It may meander off the coast and spin some precipitation back across New England, which may be in the form of some rain or even snow in the mountains. Right now, it does not appear to be a washout or a major storm to be concerned about, but I will be monitoring through the week just in case!

Now for your weekly outdoor winter activity forecast. I will rate this week a 7 out of 10. Continued cold, but mainly on the dry side. Expect fair and calm weather for the rest of your Monday. Without any wind, it will feel tolerable out there, with highs mainly in the upper 30’s.

Look for clear and cold weather overnight. Low temperatures will fall to the teens inland, and 20’s along the coast.

Tuesday will feature similar weather as today. Sunshine may fade behind some afternoon clouds. High temperatures will mainly be in the upper 30’s, with light winds.

There will be some clouds around tomorrow night, but under mainly dry conditions. The one exception will be across extreme east coastal Massachusetts and down across the Cape. A cold front slipping through overnight, will introduce somewhat colder air, with a brisk northerly wind developing. As the cold air passes over the relatively warm ocean, it may pick up some moisture and develop some snow flurries and snow showers.

This activity may continue through much of the day on Wednesday. While inland areas should see mainly sunny skies, locations closer to the coast may continue to see occasional flurries and snow showers. A small accumulation can not be ruled out along the immediate coast in areas such as Gloucester, Plymouth, and down the Cape. If we see any flurries in Boston, they would be brief and light.

It will remain on the cold side for both Wednesday and Thursday, with highs only near 30, with a brisk north wind.

As high pressure moves east of our region, the return flow will introduce somewhat milder weather to our region starting on Friday. Temperatures may warm up to near 40. which should feel quite nice after Wednesday and Thursday.

Right now, the weekend is very questionable. There are many scenarios that could pan out. Some computer models bring a storm up the coast with wind and rain on Saturday, while others squish it to our south, and introduce somewhat colder and drier air. Since we are in a dry pattern, let’s go with the trend, and keep most of the precipitation south of our region. While Saturday may briefly warm to the upper 40’s, it may cool off back to the lower 40’s by Sunday. This forecast is subject to change, so please check in with local media outlets for the latest trends for the weekend forecast. Right now, if a storm were to develop and track close to us, it looks like it would be warm enough for rain, at least here in southern New England.

Well, that’s about it for now! In next week’s blog, I will have my call on who sees a White Christmas, and who doesn’t! I will also be on the lookout for any wintry weather which may be in our future, or whether the mild weather persists into Christmas? I will also have a new ski and snow board forecast. In the meantime, while the weather pattern may be ho hum right now, beware of the winter solstice!

Thanks for reading!

Pete

 

Dry…For A Change! 12/3/18

Hello! I hope everyone had a nice weekend! Welcome to meteorological winter and the holiday season! Saturday featured chilly temperatures, but near perfect weather for tree shopping, or maybe even a late fall clean up? We fell back into old habits on Sunday, with rainy & damp conditions for the better part of the day. If you don’t like the rain, this may of been the last of it for possibly up to two weeks. If you were up north, some of this rain fell as snow, once again!

I got together with some friends and family this weekend, and many were commenting just how difficult this autumn has been for fall clean ups. In fact, with all the inclement weather, it has nearly been impossible to get this done!

Very interesting the way this fall played itself out. In many respects, it was very similar to the way winter ended earlier this year.

If you recall, last April was very cold, preventing leaves to bloom when they normally do in late April. This left the landscape very winter like through much of the month. Remember the cold nor’easter on Marathon Monday? Local meteorologist David Epstein from @GrowingWisdom claimed 2018 as a terrible year for weather. When you look back on the year of weather, you can’t argue with him!

The year began with the coldest start to any year on record. Then transitioned to the warmest February on record. Many declared winter was over, only to have one of the coldest and snowiest springs on record, which lasted right through April!

Then, an abrupt change occurred. We joke a lot about winter going straight into summer, and skipping spring here in New England every year, but that was as classic of an example that we’ll ever see.

Temperatures suddenly warmed well into the 80’s at the start of May, resulting in a incredible burst of blooms…all happening just within a few days! We then went on to our third hottest summer on record here in Boston, with a record amount of high temperatures in the 80’s, twenty three 90 degree days, and certainly the most muggy summer ever recorded. Not only was it hot, but it was also wet, with plenty of rain throughout the summer to keep the lawns and gardens happy.

This warm, wet pattern continued until October 10th. At this point, another abrupt shift occurred, when the pattern shifted from warm & wet, to cold & wet! Boston recorded over 9″ of rainfall in just November alone! A sudden freeze at the end of October finally got the leaves to begin changing color. Amazingly, peak colors finally arrived in Boston just after Halloween, and lasted for a brilliant show of color for about three days. Thereafter, a combination of strong winds and heavy rainfall stripped all the trees of their leaves, so by Veterans Day, all the leaves were down!

Overall, November featured near record setting precipitation in nearly all of New England. It was also a cold, with average mean temperatures ranging from 2 to 4 degrees below average. Because it was so cold, much of northern New England featured well above average snowfall. Even down here in southern New England, the mid month nor’easter brought between 4 and 8″ across much of the greater Boston area, except right at the waters edge. It was also a very dark, cloudy, dreary month. November is typically our cloudiest month, but this took it to a whole new level.

What does December have in store for us?? If you look at the meteorologic seasons, December is the same as June in the calendar. The meteorologic seasons are broken down into 4 quarters, with winter consisting of December, January and February. Much like June, December is still a very tricky month to predict! One has to remember, the winter solstice does not officially arrive until December 21st!

How many times do we say, June is here, it’s summer now! Only to have very unsettled weather conditions persist! Many times this happens after a beautiful, warm, May. And in fact, this is exactly what happened this past year! May was one of the warmest and sunniest on record, only to have June turn cooler and unsettled.

Much of this variability has a lot to do with the ocean temperatures. As summer tries to push into the northeast, the ocean is still much colder than the land in June. This process is called latent heating and cooling…meaning the ocean takes longer than expected to warm up in the spring, but also takes longer to cool off here in the fall. This provides resistance to warm air arriving here in eastern New England in the spring, and also keeps us milder deeper into the fall than what would normally be expected.

Now that meteorological winter has arrived, many snow enthusiasts are looking for snow! Yes, I understand northern New England just went through one of their snowiest November’s on record. The climate is different up there. Not only are they higher latitude, but it’s also higher elevation and further away from the ocean. And locations in coastal Maine, the ocean temperatures are colder, and can sustain early season wintry precipitation. If you like a lot of snow and longer winters, move up north…Maine seems to get a ton of it, no matter the year!

We get our fair share down here too, but we typically have to wait longer to receive it early in the season, and it melts sooner come spring time. Typically, the snow season runs from December to March here in Boston. Up north, you can add at least another month. In many cases, the ocean does not cool off sufficiently enough to support snow in Boston until after Christmas, or sometimes even later.

My winter forecast calls for heavy snowfall in Boston this year, with nearly double what we normally receive! Last week, I mentioned the possibility of above average snow in Boston this December. I am not backing down from this forecast, but it does appear as if another abrupt shift in the pattern has occurred. What had been a unusually cold & wet November, looks like has temporarily shifted to cold and dry! Meaning the storm track is no longer tracking up the coast into New England, and the tropical moisture has been essentially cut off. From what I can see, this pattern looks to be in place for at least a couple weeks, possibly into mid December.

We typically receive about 8″ of snow on average here in Boston during December. A couple weeks ago, long range computer data was slamming us with a very active December, with well above average snows. Now, not so much! It looks like the old switcharoo pattern is happening here, with November acting more like winter, than December! Much like May acting more summer like than June! I’m still expecting some snowy periods this December, with above average snow falling at some point here in Boston. Overall, it’s still looking like a colder than average month again, too.

I have done quite a bit of research on this. Boston’s most severe winters always seem to wait until after the winter solstice arrives. Back in 2003, the Boston area was struck by a weekend long blizzard, lasting from the 5th to the 7th. It happened to be the largest storm we received the whole winter, and actually finished with below average snow that winter!

Does this mean my winter forecast is in jeopardy? No, winter has not even begun! Remember the 2014-15 winter a few years ago? Boston only had received .3″ of snow that December, and only had 4 and 1/2″ of snow to speak of up until January 23rd of 2015. All madness broke loose shortly thereafter, with Boston getting slammed with 4 blizzards in succession, and nearly a 100″ of snow is 4 weeks time.

I’m not specifically forecasting the same results, but the oceanic temperatures and overall weather patterns do look quite similar to that year. This year also happens to be my number one analog to 2014-15. Recent years have shown that when the snow comes, it comes in boatloads at a time, or snow blitzes as it has been named.

The longer we go without accumulating snow earlier in the season, the more of a blitz it will be. It’s quite possible the majority of our snow comes in January & February this year, much like in 2015. As I have mentioned in previous posts, it’s very difficult to pinpoint individual events, and the periods when we are going to receive all this snow I’m forecasting…but I’m confident that it’s still coming!

Now for your ski and snow board forecast. Well, ski resorts really cashed in with quite the whopper storm last week! Many mountains received anywhere from 15 to 30″ of heavy wet snow! This was many resorts 5th or 6th snowstorm since late October. I spoke with a couple friends who took advantage of the snow, and they said conditions were as good as it gets for November!

Though most saw rain yesterday, many ski resorts once again received frozen precipitation, with a net gain from the event. After a mild day today, cold weather is going to rush back into New England for the balance of the week, and into next weekend. This will allow many operators to fire up the snow making equipment. There may be some snow squalls on Friday, otherwise, I don’t see too much natural snow in the forecast at this time. Nevertheless, due to the early season heavy snowfalls, and expected cold weather, I will give this week a 8 out of 10 for ski conditions.

Now for our local outdoor winter activity forecast. I will give this week a 7 out of 10. Colder, but no more rain! Expect a generally cloudy afternoon, but some breaks of sunshine can not be ruled out. It will be warm for December standards, and possibly the warmest day in Boston in over a month, with highs in the upper 50’s.

A cold front will be pushing through the area overnight. Expect it to be generally dry, but winds will be shifting and becoming gusty out of the northwest. Low temperatures should generally fall into the upper 20’s and 30’s.

Watch for blustery and colder weather for your Tuesday. The good news is that there will be no rain! This would be like the first Tuesday in a nearly 2 months without any rain. As I mentioned it will be blustery and cold, with highs only in the 30’s.

Bundle up if your going out tomorrow night, with a gusty wind low temperatures will be in the teens and 20’s, with wind chills even lower.

Expect dry and cold weather for the period Wednesday through Sunday. High temperatures will mainly be in the 30’s, and lows in the 20’s, except on Saturday, when temperatures may not make it out of the 20’s! There may be some passing snow showers later Friday, as a reinforcing cold front moves through.

The next threat of any storminess would not arrive until early next week. Right now, most indications show this storm passing too far off to our south to give us any substantial snow. However, should the upper air currents sharpen up a bit, and the two jet streams phase more, the potential would exist for a major winter storm for much of eastern Massachusetts. Definitely something to monitor over the upcoming week!

Well, that’s about it for now! In next week’s blog, I will talk a bit  more about our winter patterns, and let you know if I see any snow in our future. I will also have an early call on our prospects for a White Christmas this year! I will also have my latest ski and snow boarding forecast. In the meantime, be thankful the the pattern changed in a nick of time…we may not be so lucky later!

Thanks for reading!

Pete

A November (Not)To Remember! 11/26/18

Hello! I hope everyone had a Happy Thanksgiving, and got to enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend. After the arctic blast Thursday, Black Friday warmed up a bit, but was still below freezing all day. A slight wind shift on Saturday allowed temperatures to return back to normal. …which felt like a heat wave to many!

A quick moving storm system moved up the coast Saturday night and brought a quick deluge of rain. Had the cold weather not vacated, this most certainly would of had some snow involved. Welcome to November here in New England…where you can have bitter cold weather one day, and rain falling just 36 hours later!

Yes, the cold was every bit as advertised, and then some. I remember leaving work Wednesday night and saying to myself, this isn’t too bad after all. When I went to my mom’s Thanksgiving morning, I also recalled saying to myself that it still wasn’t too bad.

But something happened during the afternoon on Thanksgiving Day. It appeared the core of the cold air blast finally settled into the Boston area, with temperatures plummeting into the teens, with below zero wind chill factors. Good Lord was it cold!!! As cold air continued to advect (transport of cold or warm air) into our region, it became even colder Thanksgiving evening and at night!

Many friends and family were asking me whether this was the coldest Thanksgiving Day on record. If you thought to yourself that you don’t recall it ever being this cold on Thanksgiving, you were correct!

This was indeed the coldest Thanksgiving Day on record for much of New England! It’s only because the temperature was still 24 degrees at midnight Thursday, that Boston only tied for the official coldest day.

Most of the daylight hours were spent in the teens. Which made it the coldest Thanksgiving Day since 1901. Many other official observation sites shattered longstanding records for cold temperatures. The day was unprecedented, and will go down as a record day in New England weather history.

From California wildfires, a blizzard in the mid west yesterday, excessive rains along the east coast up into New England, early season heavy snows in much of New England, this November has been one for the record books! And it’s not done just yet!

It’s been a very wet fall, and November has been living up to its reputation, of being the cloudiest, wettest month of the year! So far, Boston has accumulated nearly 8″ of water, double what we normally get. It’s also been cloudy nearly 50% of the time. Blue Hill Observatory has officially broken the record for the wettest fall on record. I believe Boston may finish in the top 6 wettest autumn’s on record.

Friends & family ask me why has it been so wet? I can answer back to them it’s because of this or that pattern, or use some fancy meteorological term. But in the end, it’s Mother Nature just doing what she does best…balancing things out! I like to remind people that we’ve had some very unusual seasons in recent years. While September and October typically offer pleasant weather around these parts. November is the start of the stormy season…and that has been lacking for several years now. We have been enjoying incredible weather in autumn in recent years. In fact, autumn as a whole has been consistently warm and dry for at least the past 6 years. So we were due for a stormy November, no doubt!

And yet another storm is brewing for New England tonight into tomorrow! This storm promises to be a significant snowfall for the mountains of Vermont, New Hampshire, and western Maine.

While the month has turned colder than average here along the coast, it has been downright winter like in the interior and especially up in the mountains! Some ski resorts have been open for nearly a month already!

Yet. we must remind ourselves that it’s still only November. November is a transient month. Meaning it’s a transition month from autumn to winter. Just because we saw a taste of winter mid month here in Boston, does not mean winter is actually here! Many years, November can feature wintry temperatures, and even a touch of snow along the coast. Some years, it can be just an extension of fall and even late summer, with mild weather. It’s during the late fall, early winter that the difference from the interior and coast show up the most. This is due to latent heating and cooling. It takes longer for the ocean to cool off than the land in late fall early winter. This modifies the coast, and helps keep the snow and cold temperatures across the interior and higher terrain. The exception to this is if you travel far enough north, up into Maine, many coastal locations have already received significant snow, because the ocean temperatures are colder up there, and they are further north. A good example of this is up in Portland, Maine, where they have accumulated close to 17″ already!

Further northeast into the Canadian Maritime region, such as New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, it’s been full fledged winter up there this month, even starting in October! Many locations have already received several snowstorms and even blizzards. This has resulted in a shortage of fresh Christmas trees arriving into New England this year. Farmers cut many down, but the heavy snowfalls came so early this year, that many trees were buried!

Indeed, it has been a very interesting month for weather here in Boston too! After a very warm start to the month, temperatures have averaged below normal after the 8th, even much below average on Thanksgiving Day, and Black Friday. Many locations in the city also have received their first significant snowfall of the year. This snowfall did not come without some controversy, as I will explain shortly.

We have been very lucky here in Boston and along the coast this November. Every storm that has tracked up the coast has brought with it a warm tongue of air, that warms up the coastal plain just enough for the precipitation to fall as mainly rain. This is completely normal, and is expected. Coastal areas in Massachusetts typically do not see much snow in November for reasons explained above.

The exception was of course back on November 15th. As a frigid air mass plunged into New England, a storm developed to our south, and began tracking up the coast. As this moisture bumped into the cold air, a burst of heavy snow developed. After leaving a record snowfall for November in New York City, it began heading northeast towards Boston. As many witnessed, a good 3 to 6″ of heavy wet snow fell in much of the city of Boston.

However, apparently, it did not snow at Logan Airport that night! Logan only measured one tenth of an inch of snow. How is this possible? I spoke with my friend Remy about this, and he told me many official observation sites such as Logan Airport, only take measurements once every six hours. Hard to believe, but it may of snowed 2 or 3″ at Logan, but when the observer went to measure the snow, it had already melted to one tenth of an inch! This is why snowfall measurements are often skewed, and can never be fully trusted.

I’m seeing tweets out there from some amateur weather people saying winter is not coming this year. Just because it is not snowing in your back yard in late November, does not mean winter is not coming! Believe me, it’s coming. I wrote my winter forecast last week, and my thoughts have not wavered.

Now, could timing change? Yes, I did point out that it’s very difficult if not impossible to forecast certain events. One of my analog years was 2014-15, where Boston only had received 4 1/2″ of snow up until January 23rd. The city then proceeded to get blasted with a unprecedented snow blitz never witnessed in our lifetime, with 94″ of snow falling within a three week period! Our worst winters typically wait until after the winter solstice arrives, which this year is on December 21st. I’m expecting above average snow this December. I will explain all the details in my post a week from today.

Now for your ski and snowboard forecast. Wow! What a November this has been! Many ski resorts have been open since before Halloween, and many more will be opening soon. Ski country has received several large snowfalls, and this largest is yet to come. The blizzard that hit the mid west yesterday is tracking up into the Great Lakes region. Because of a block in the north Atlantic, this storm is going to transfer energy to the Mid Atlantic coast. This storm is then going to rapidly intensify and track close to the New England coast overnight.

While this track is too warm for the coast, across the interior and mountains of New England, heavy wet snow is going to fall through Tuesday, resulting in 1 to 2 ft of accumulations! Some ski areas that are going to get hit hard are Killington and Jay Peak in Vermont, Wildcat in the White Mountain region in N.H., and many of the western Maine resorts including Sunday River. Snow showers will linger into Wednesday with perfect conditions to wrap up the month at the end of the week.

Now for our autumn outdoor activity forecast. I will give this week a 5 out of 10. Expect cloudy skies for the rest of this afternoon, along with the chance of some scattered showers. It will be cool, with highs in the 40’s. As mentioned above, a storm will be developing down the coast, and will be tracking over Cape Cod during tomorrow. This storm is going to intensify as it tracks up the coast into the Gulf of Maine.

With the track so close to the coast, expect a windswept soaking rain withing 50 miles of the coast in Massachusetts, 20 miles in New Hampshire, and only 5 miles up in Maine. Beyond that, the potential exists for a very strong early winter storm, with a mixture of snow, sleet and freezing rain for valley locations, and heavy wet snow in elevations above 1000 ft. in all of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, across the interior. Due to the heavy wet consistency of the snow, there will be reports of downed trees and power outages. As mentioned above, the mountains are going to get blasted with one to two feet of heavy wet snow. Lower elevations can expect between 2 to 6″ south, and 6 to 12″ north.

Winds are also going to be an issue. Expect easterly winds to gust up to 50 mph along coastal locations overnight, and remain gusty tomorrow, especially up in Maine and across the interior.

While precipitation diminishes in the Boston area by midday tomorrow, it will continue to snow up in much of northern New England. As the storm pulls away, there may be a brief change to wet snow as close as the Worcester Hills, and the seas coast region of New Hampshire. A small accumulation can not be ruled out. Expect blustery conditions, with high temperatures in the lower 40’s around Boston.

After a brief break Tuesday evening, an energetic upper level storm will cross New England on Wednesday. This feature will continue the snow showers up north and in the mountains for a better part of the day, with additional accumulations. We may even see some snow showers passing through the Boston area from time to time on Wednesday. It will be on the chilly side, with highs only in the upper 30’s.

After a stormy month, we will finish November on the dry and chilly side, with high temperatures for both Thursday and Friday only rising into the upper 30’s and low 40’s. Saturday should also be dry, with similar temperatures. Yet another storm may approach on Sunday, with rain arriving later in the day. It should be a bit milder, with highs near 50.

Well, that’s about all for today! In next week’s blog, I will have my review for November, and my outlook for December. I will also have a new ski and outdoor activity forecast, as well be on the lookout for any more snow for the Boston area! In the meantime, looking at the weather this month is all relevant. What may be a forgetful month for many, may bring joy to others! Hint…Ski resort owners!

Thanks for reading!

Pete

 

 

 

Winter 2018-19…Ghosts of Winter’s Past! 11/19/18

Hello! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! After the storm…temperatures relaxed somewhat, allowing for some good melting where accumulating snow occurred.

Saturday featured a mixture of sun and clouds, with high temperatures mainly in the mid to upper 40’s. Sunday was somewhat colder, looking and feeling more like December, again!

How about that storm? Judging by the comments, many were not thrilled seeing the early arrival of the white stuff. However, I did notice a supportive group out there that enjoyed seeing the first snow of the season! I must say, the wet snow clinging to all the trees made for a very festive evening!

For those who read the blog, this should not have come as a surprise to you. A November snowstorm was predicted well before Halloween.

This was a classic New England November storm. Many were surprised to hear that Boston only recorded one tenth of an inch of snow! You may be asking, how’s that possible?

I have mentioned it many times, the official observation site for the entire city of Boston, is located at Logan Airport. Many times, the weather at the airport is very different than what it is across the city, and is not indicative as to what’s being observed at the airport.

In autumn storms such as this one, the immediate coastline typically receives the least amount of snow, due to the still very warm ocean temperatures leftover from the summer.

This storm was no exception. While the shoreline received less than one inch of accumulation, you did not have to travel too far inland to witness a whole different story!

The snow gradient varied widely across the city ranging from just a couple inches in town, upwards to 6″ in the Roslindale, West Roxbury areas of the city! If you lived further inland, many communities received between 7 and 10″ of heavy wet snow.

As the low pressure made its closest pass, a tongue of warm air flooded the coastal plain, and changed the snow to rain beyond Rt 128 for a time. As the storm pulled offshore, winds turned more northerly, allowing cold air the change briefly change the rain back to snow during the day on Friday.

I was chatting with my friend Remy, studying Atmospheric Sciences at Cornell University, and we both agreed it has been a very long time since we saw so many watches and warnings up for a winter storm, for so early in the season!

In some cases, it was a historic snowfall, with New York City receiving their greatest single day November snowfall on record!

That is in the past, what’s in store for the future…namely our upcoming winter? Many have been asking me whether this early taste of winter here in November is a sign of things to come?

I would say, yes! My winter motto stands, “what happens in November, the winter will remember!”

Now onto my 2018-19 winter forecast! Long range seasonal forecasts have come a long way in recent years. Advancements in computer models, and understanding the different teleconnections have further made these forecasts more reliable over the years.

Yet, it’s still not perfect, or not as smooth as we would like it to be. I always say when I make my seasonal forecast, that to make sure to look at the whole picture as to what is being said, rather than focus on any singular event. Meaning this forecast is a blend over the entire winter season. How we get to the end result may be an adventure!

A good example of this was the historic record winter of 2014-15. Many would be surprised to know that Boston only had about 4 and half inches of snow up until January 24th.

While many called for an above average snow season, I was feeling downright embarrassed for predicting 100″ of snow for that winter for Boston! What happened next nobody could of ever envisioned, as the city was bombarded with 94″ of snow in 21 days!

To formulate my forecast, I look at 17 different factors ranging from signs from Mother Nature, analog years (years with similar patterns to this one), teleconnections, and countless hours of reading technical discussions from various sources.

After assembling all of these factors, I come up with my best educated guesstimate as to what we may be in for!

Before I move on, I must say, I have been studying the weather nearly my entire life, and what I see for this winter is somewhat alarming. In many respects, these patterns remind me very much of the record 2014-15 winter.

Since way back from the summer, long range seasonal forecast models have been consistently predicting below average temperatures for most of the eastern, and especially southeastern part of the United States, including the Mid-Atlantic region. Signals are not as strong, but still are below average for us here in New England.

This has not wavered, and has in fact has only intensified in recent weeks. Of course the departures are relative to normal. Minus one or two degrees are much colder than normal here in New England, than a minus 4 or 5 in the southeast part of the country. Still, cold is cold, and is all relative to where you live.

In addition, most models are forecasting above normal precipitation for much of the southeast and Mid-Atlantic region. Although not as strong of a signal, above normal precipitation also extends up the coast to include eastern Massachusetts.

If reading this verbatim, you could make a good case for a historic winter coming for the Mid-Atlantic region, including New York City, Philadelphia, much of New Jersey, and the Washington D.C. Area. No doubt, a rough winter could also be in store for such southern areas as Virginia, the Carolinas, and even as far south as Georgia and northern Florida!

There are 5 major factors that support these ideas:

First is El Niño (warmer than warmer water in the equatorial Pacific). For this year, we have a weak to borderline moderate central based El Niño. Weak El Niño events have been associated with extreme weather events, and severe winters across New England, especially eastern areas.

When the ocean is warmer in the central Pacific, it floods the atmosphere with a lot of heat energy from (convection) thunderstorms. This helps to push warm air aloft up into parts of Alaska and western Canada, building a ridge of high pressure in this region. This is fairly typical in El Nino winters.

The second factor, is a very warm pool of water (aka “the warm blob”) has resurfaced again in the Gulf of Alaska, similar to 2013-14. If this warm blob persists, it will contribute to help maintain a strong ridge of high pressure across Alaska and western Canada.

As this ridge of high pressure (warm & dry) builds in the west, a trough of low pressure (cold & stormy) develops across the eastern part of the U.S.

As the saying goes, what goes up, must come down! Think of it similar to when you shake a garden hose, large loops of peaks and valleys develop. The peak is the ridge of high pressure, and the valley is the trough of low pressure.

It’s important to note that El Niño’s come in different strengths. If it becomes too strong, the northern, polar jet weakens and retreats into Canada. When this happens, the sub tropical jet (warm + moisture) becomes dominant, bringing warm temperatures and mainly rain storms.

However, if the El Niño remains weak, the polar jet stream (cold & energy) and the sub tropical jet both remain active. As these jet streams meander across the country, they sometimes merge close to the east coast. When this happens, is when we see our real big storms!

To get the snow, we need the cold. For this to happen, we typically need high pressure in Canada, and low pressure across the United States. This is also known as high latitude blocking. Computer models are projecting periods of significant high latitude blocking this winter.

We are currently in what they call a “Dalton Solar Minimum” solar cycle. Also known as the “Grand Minimum.” This means the sun is entering its lowest point of sunspot activity, which releases solar energy towards earth. This has been linked to increased high latitude blocking. For reasons not completely understood, the minimum solar cycles has also been linked to the “Mini Ice Age” during the mid 1600’s.

The fourth factor is looking at analog years, and years feature similar upper air patterns and sea surface temperatures as this year. I like to call them ‘ghost years’. After doing quite a bit of research, recent years that resemble this year would be 2002-03, 2004-05, and 2014-15.  No two years are exact, but when you blend all these years together, you can get a better idea on what this winter may offer.

The fifth factor, and what I believe is the most important, is to closely monitor the weather patterns, precipitation, and average mean temperatures for November. This is where I look at my natural signs to help me see which way the winter is going to lean. In many more cases than not, a wetter, colder than average November typically yields to above average snowfall in Boston. While this month started out warm, it has since turned much colder. It has also been very wet, some of which has turned white, as you know!

Looking at the long range data, the rest of the month looks to feature below average temperatures…even record cold is now likely for Thanksgiving Day! Yikes!

After carefully reviewing all my data, I am ready to announce that a severe winter is on the way for much of New England this year, especially focused along the I95 corridor. And it’s not just going to be us. Severe winter conditions can be expected up and down the coast from the Carolina’s, Washington D.C. , New Jersey, New York City and up along the I95 corridor through Boston and up through much of Maine. If it’s not the snow, it’s going to be the ferocious cold.

You could make a solid case that winter has already arrived! The big question is how severe, and how is it going to stack up to some of the big winters I listed as my analog or so called ‘ghost years’?

At this point, I’m liking a blend of 2002-03, and 2014-15. If I go further back, it’s also looking quite similar to 1976-77, which was a brutally cold winter. However, ocean temperatures were different back then, and did not produce the prolific snow amounts I’m expecting this year.

Because it’s so difficult to pinpoint exact events from so far out, I blend the winter as a whole with snow amounts and temperature from now through March. From what I can see at this point, winter already here, and will only intensify quickly moving forward. Our first warning shot comes this week on Thanksgiving Day, when record cold weather will plunge into New England. Temperatures will moderate a bit, but we may be dealing with a storm at the start of next week, and another towards the end of November. Each of these storms may feature rain or snow along the coast, and more snow across the interior and in the mountains. Wow! What a start to ski season!

As we head into December, heavy snows and cold will continue to rapidly spread towards the coast. I’m expecting well above normal snow and bitter cold temperatures for many areas this December. Normal snow in December for Boston is 8″. Would not surprise me if we receive triple this amount. If we see any break this winter, the pattern may relax a bit after Christmas and into January, kind of like a mid winter break, or thaw. Thereafter winter will come back with a vengeance later January and lasting until the spring equinox.

Of course, these are the projections. It never seems to turn out quite the way you envisioned it. Nevertheless, for this winter, I am expecting Boston to receive between 80 and 90″ of snow. This is much more than last year, when Boston finished with 59.9.” Much of this may come in many moderate storms, but a big blizzard or two is not out of the question this year, and is expected. I’m going out on a limb here. To this point, I have not seen any winter forecast out there with this much snow predicted for Boston. At some point, you have to listen to your intuition and go with your gut. My gut tells me a heavy winter is coming. Average snowfall at Logan Airport is 44″. So you can clearly see I’m expecting double the amount!

Along with the snow, it’s going to be a cold winter, with temperatures averaging 1 to 3 degrees below average for the winter as a whole. This may not sound like a lot, but after you average it all out, it is very significant.

Although I’m expecting above average snow throughout most of New England, the worst is going to be focused in eastern areas, along the I95 corridor. In the heart of the winter, it simply may be too cold for snow across the interior of New England, as the storm track becomes suppressed. This will focus the heaviest snows closer to the coast, and on the Cape.

Speaking of the Cape, you can expect more snow there this winter compared to last year. While there were many storms last winter, it remained too warm for snow, with many of the storms featuring a rain snow mix, or all rain. It’s going to be colder this winter, therefore, I’m expecting tough conditions down there. Snowfall varies greatly from year to year on the Cape. However, this year, the moisture riding up the coast from the sub tropical jet stream, should interact with the cold air with the northern jet, to produce some heavy snowstorms, if not blizzards. I’m expecting a general 50 to 70″ this winter.

For my friends in New Hampshire, you can expect a very cold and snowy winter as well. As mentioned above, the fiercest weather looks to be focused along the seacoast region of New Hampshire and Maine, where over 100″ of snow will be common this winter. The interior will see their share of snow too, but this winter will be remembered for the bitter cold in this region. The mountains should do fine this winter. Maybe slightly less than last winter, due to the suppressed storm track across southern areas, I’m just concerned about this bitter cold, keeping the general public away from the slopes at times this winter.

Now for your weekly outdoor activity and holiday travel forecast. I will rate this week a 4 of 10. Expect the rest of this afternoon to be very November like, with cloudy and damp conditions from Boston south. North of Boston, cold air draining down from Maine and New Hampshire will create areas of light snow, and freezing drizzle, especially in southern New Hampshire. This activity should be dwindling compared to earlier today. Temperatures will be in the 30’s north of Boston, 40’s in the city, and 50’s south of Boston.

Look for cloudy and damp weather to continue tonight. In fact, another wave of low pressure will be approaching New England along a stalled cold front. This low will be feeding off warm air to our south and cold air to the north tomorrow. Expect snow to develop late tonight from the Mass Pike points north, and rain, or a rain and snow mix close to Boston, and all rain south of Boston. Lows will be near freezing inland, and middle 30’s close to the coast.

Tuesday will feature wintry conditions from the Mass Pike points north, with the heaviest snow focused near the New Hampshire seacoast, where inland locations may receive close to 6″ of snow. Closer to the coast expect 3 to 4″. It’s gong to be very close, but it looks like the rain falling in Boston may also turn to a period of snow during the afternoon, with possibly an inch or two falling. It could be another one of these cases where Logan only receives a few tenths of snow, while interior parts of the city sees an inch or two. A northeast wind will drain the cold air into the system as it moves to our east.

Whatever happens, will diminish Tuesday evening, leaving us with icy conditions from Boston points north and west. It will continue to be cold and on the damp side, with lows in the 20’s and low 30’s. Be careful driving and watch out for black ice!

Expect dry weather for Wednesday. However, an approaching arctic cold front will likely trigger snow showers and squalls across much of the region. Before the cold front arrives, temperatures will recover to near 40 degrees.

A terrible surge of mid winter January like arctic air will pour into New England Wednesday night and into your Thanksgiving Holiday. This has the potential to be the coldest Thanksgiving Day on record in Boston, and many other sites across New England. It would be bitter for Christmas, never mind Thanksgiving! Early morning lows will be in the teens, and will struggle to reach the low 20’s during the day. Wind chills will be well below zero Thursday morning, adding a bite to the air. Please dress in layers with hats and gloves if you are planning on attending any High School football games.

As luck would have it, temperatures should moderate back to freezing on Black Friday, after a bitter morning with lows in the teens. It should remain bright, dry and sunny for the balance of the day.

A slight moderation, and a slight shift in the wind, will boost temperatures back up into the 40’s on Saturday, with generally fair weather for many tree lighting celebrations across the region.

Another storm will be approaching on Sunday. At this time, it looks to bring mainly rain to coastal locations. However, once again, it may be just cold enough across the interior to support a wintry mix of some sort. I will be monitoring this storm carefully, and will update if conditions warrant. The stormy pattern looks to continue thereafter, with more chances of winter like storms as we approach the start of December.

Well, that’s about it for now! In next week’s blog, I will continue to fine tune my winter forecast, and possibly add a thing or two if I feel necessary. I will also have a new ski and snow board forecast! Sorry for the extra long post! I hope you found the forecast interesting, and informative! Please feel free to send me a comment or if you have any questions! In the meantime, whether you believe in ghosts or not, this winter may send chills up & down your spine!

~Wishing everyone a safe & Happy Thanksgiving Day holiday!~

Thanks for reading!

Pete

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Two Punch…Snow?? 11/12/18

Hello! I hope everyone is enjoying their long holiday weekend! After a stormy Friday night, the weather turned very Novemberish over the weekend. Saturday began with chilly, damp weather, only to turn blustery and cold by days end. Sunday featured ample sunshine, but temperatures felt more like mid December, rather than mid November. Wind chills were holding in the 20’s and 30’s across the region.

It’s the tale of two regions. While people here in southern New England were raking leaves on Sunday, folks up north and across the interior were either heading to the ski slopes, or shoveling snow!  While the storm last Friday night brought a cold rain for us down here in the Boston area, it brought a heavy wet snowfall to ski resorts and even some lower elevations with between 2 and 10″ of heavy wet snow, depending on elevation.

It’s no wonder some ski resorts have been open (with limited service) since before Halloween! I believe this was the second or third storm to bring accumulating snow to ski country this autumn. And they’re not done yet! Yet a third, and then a fourth snowstorm is on the way this week!  Over the years, I can recall several early starts to winter, with heavy snows the following winter.

The first year was November 1995. This is going back away, but I remember several heavy snowstorms hitting ski country that year similar to this year, late October and into November. The following winter featured Boston’s record breaking snow season, which stood until the historic winter of 2014-15.

The second was November, of 2002. This year is also one of my analog years for this upcoming winter. That November featured consistently cold temperatures, which allowed snow making to commence on November 1st. I remember attending the Southern New England Weather Conference that year at Wachusett Mountain ski resort in Princeton, Ma. held on November 1st. It was a very cold day, with high temperatures barely making it to freezing. It was so cold, that the ski resort fired up the snow making equipment for a first hand demonstration at how snow making works! Needless to say, winter 2002-03 was quite a winter! After one of the warmest and driest winter’s on record the year before, that winter turned out to be one of the coldest and snowiest on record in Boston!

Another November which featured colder than normal temperatures was November 2004. While most of the country experienced a blow torch, New England saw colder than normal temperatures, and a couple snowstorms even right into the city of Boston. The following winter was very warm across much of the country, except here in New England! Boston saw a whopping 86″ of snowfall that winter! Many on the Cape would remember that year, when the Great Blizzard of ’05 hit on January 22nd. This was a true blizzard, with up to 40″ of snow falling on the Cape whipped by hurricane force winds and drifts of up to 10 ft!

Another year similar to this one was November 2014. This happens to also be one of my analog years for this upcoming winter.  November 2014 featured a couple early season snowstorms striking before Thanksgiving, allowing ski country to open early. I remember going up to New Hampshire for Thanksgiving that year looking as if it were Christmas, with 7″ of heavy wet snow pasted on all the trees. After a quite a mild December, and many declaring winter over, winter came roaring back with a vengeance in late January, and of course featured the epic snow blitz of all snow blitzes in February of 2015.

Does anyone see a pattern here? If you said there looks like a link between early starts to winter in November and the following winter patterns, you’re correct! What makes 1995-96 such a anomaly was that it occurred during a La Nina year (cold water in the Pacific Ocean). Typically, La Nina years feature below average snowfall in Boston, with variable conditions during winter, leaning more mild than cold.

However, there have been notable exceptions! In fact, the past two winters featured La Nina conditions, yet Boston featured above average snowfall in both these years. The winter two years ago 2016-17 featured many interior storms, with Boston being right on the edge. That year Boston finished with 46.6″ of snow, which is a couple inches above the seasonal average of 44.”

Interesting to note, that November featured temperatures a little over 2 degrees above the average. This went against my theory of a warm November, below average snow. However, it was still withing the plus 2 / minus 2 degrees of neutral. It’s when temperatures average plus 3 or plus 4 degrees above average for November that we typically see below average snow the following winter.

How about last year? Records show November temperatures finishing 1 degree below the monthly average. This pushed the heavy snow closer to the coast, giving Boston 59.9″ for the season. If you recall, my forecast for Boston last winter called for between 60 and 70″ of snow. Many interior locations and up in ski country enjoyed a fabulous ski season with the exception of the very warm February, when many experienced a meltdown. Winter came back strong in March and even April, extending the ski season well into the spring.

While La Nina’s are typically very good for ski country as far as snowfall goes, the same can be said for coastal New England when weak, central based El Nino’s are predicted. Central based El Nino’s is when the ocean temperatures in the central Pacific become warmer than average. How warm they become has a profound impact on how severe our winter turns out. Winter 2002-03 and 2014-15 featured weak, central based El Nino’s. This year,  current projections are also calling for a weak to perhaps moderate central based El Nino maintaining itself throughout winter 2018-19. Other global factors such as a persistent warm pool of water in the Gulf of Alaska, will be contributing to this years winter pattern across the eastern part of the United Sates.

The main point that I’m trying to make is that Mother Nature is in charge! There were many years when computer models were saying cold is coming for November, only to have it turn into a very warm month. Some examples of this in recent years were November of 2001, 2006, 2009, 2011 (yuck!), and 2015! All featured temperatures averaging plus 4 degrees for the month, with much less than normal snow the following winter.

This year, computer models are trying to send a blow torch (very warm) into New England for Thanksgiving week. However, after carefully looking over all of the data this morning, I can possibly see the exact opposite occurring, with a deep trough of low pressure (cold & sometimes stormy) moving in around Thanksgiving. If this is true, we could be looking at a very cold Thanksgiving this year. This cold pattern could persist for the rest of November, which would have major implications on my winter forecast! By the way, my official winter forecast will be published just one week from today! I’m sure you can get a good idea at what my thoughts are with the analog years I have mentioned already!

Before I get to my forecast, I just wanted to take a moment to review our fall foliage season. Overall, I would give it a 7 out of 10! Not bad, considering where we started out from! After being green for nearly the entire fall, peak foliage came sweeping into Boston with a flare of color not seen in years around here! Had it not been the frosty mornings of late October, we could of been looking at a similar situation as last year, when leaves just turned brown and fell off. The rating would of been higher, had it not been for the untimely rain and windstorms which stripped the trees of their beautiful leaves prematurely, giving us only a few days to enjoy the brilliant burst of fall color. But what a show it was!

Now for your weekly autumn outdoor activity forecast. I will rate this week a 5 out of 10. Two more rainstorms / snowstorm? And unseasonably cold air! Watch for increasing high clouds for the rest of today. It will be chilly, with highs in the middle to upper 40’s.

Tonight will feature thickening clouds. A freshening east wind will hold temperatures in the 40’s. Rain will overspread the region late at night from southwest to northeast.

Expect stormy conditions for Tuesday. A strong storm will be developing and moving up the coast. Current projections show this storm tracking across southeastern Massachusetts. This would place the Cape in the warm sector of the storm, with strong southerly winds, and temperatures spiking to near 60. Similar projections were made for last Friday night, however the storm tracked 50 miles further east, keeping most of the region in the cold sector of the storm, with northeast winds. Regardless, torrential rain will make travel difficult anywhere from 9 am to 2 pm across the Boston area. If the center of the low passes east of Boston, temperatures may not warm too much above 50. Rain will begin to taper off after 3 pm, and be over by 6 pm.

If you live or are planning on traveling up to northern New England, expect a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain in lower elevations, and heavy wet snow in elevations above 2000 ft. with difficult travel conditions. This storm is going to be mainly rain for the seacoast region of New Hampshire, and much of the Maine coast, within 10 miles of the ocean. Be aware, inland will be a different story, with treacherous travel conditions.

As the storm moves north of our latitude tomorrow evening, a gusty west wind will usher in the coldest air of the season! Expect winter cold tomorrow night, with flash freezes possible up in northern New England. Temperatures are going to plummet into the upper teens and mid to upper twenties region wide.

Look for bright but ineffective sunshine on Wednesday, along with a gusty wind. Look for temperatures to struggle into the 30’s, for high temperatures! Wednesday night will feature clear and very cold temperatures for this time of the year. In fact, some locations may have record cold lows! This would mean lower teens to low 20’s. Wow!

Watch for a sunny but very cold start to Thursday. As the day progresses, look for increasing high clouds with a decidedly wintry look to the sky by days end. It’s going to look and feel like snow, as high temperatures will only reach the upper 30’s and lower 40’s.

Yet another storm threatens later Thursday night into Friday. With colder air established, this storm has the potential to bring us our first shot of wintry precipitation across southern New England. Not only that, but this storm has the potential to be a significant winter storm to a large part of New England. A never ending parade of storms in the southern jet stream is going to begin to track up the coast later Thursday night.

If this storm tracks south and east of New England, many interior locations, including here in southern New England, could be looking at an early season winter storm. At this early juncture, I would say areas north and west of I495 have the best chance at seeing accumulating snowfall, sleet and freezing rain. Locations to the west and north of Boston between Rt 128 and I495 could also see a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain, which may or may not change to rain. Even inside of Rt 128 close to Boston may indeed see their first wintry precipitation of the season. This is a very changeable situation. I can see this storm trending colder towards the coast, bringing more of a wintry scenario into the city as well.

As far as accumulations go, at this early juncture, I can see interior locations receiving 6 plus inches of snow. With sleet and freezing rain mixed in, this could make for a dangerous situation on Friday. It’s too early to tell along the coast, though I do see at least a 50% chance for seeing some snow. I will monitor the situation closely throughout the week, and begin my Facebook updates as conditions warrant!

After this storm pulls away, expect cold but mainly dry conditions for the balance of the weekend. As mentioned earlier, the early outlook for Thanksgiving week is for mainly dry but cold weather. Of course, I will be updating this forecast come next Monday.

Well, that’s about it for now! Next week’s blog will feature the winter forecast for 2018-19! You won’t want to miss it! I will also have your Thanksgiving travel forecast, and also begin your outdoor ski and snow mobile forecast! In the meantime, get ready for a one two punch from Mother Nature…with the second punch possibly packing more of a punch than the first!

Thanks for reading!

Pete

 

Farewell Fall…Winter Rapidly Approaching! 11/5/18

Hello! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! November began on the mild side last Thursday, with highs in the lower 60’s. Friday was warmer, even turning a bit muggy, with high temperatures close to 70! A strong early November storm arrived Friday night, tracking right across the Boston area, bringing with it torrential downpours, and a tropical feel to the air. A strong cold front blasted through the region on Saturday, bringing with it strong damaging westerly winds. Many locations saw winds gusting up to 60 mph during the afternoon, which toppled trees and power lines across the region…especially across eastern Massachusetts. The winds subsided Saturday night, as colder air rushed back into the region.

Sunday was an exquisite fall day behind the departing storm! Deep blue skies, light winds, and pleasant afternoon temperatures reminded us just how beautiful this time of the year can be! This too is short lived, as our next storm system is already rapidly approaching the region. If you haven’t noticed, we’ve been having a very rainy autumn so far, and I see no signs of it letting up!

So it has been a wet fall around these parts. I’m not sure exactly where we stand as far as how much, but I believe I saw something like 4th wettest so far… and we still have the rest of November to add to these totals. So far, I don’t see too many folks complaining about all  the wet weather. Though there’s no “official” drought listed by the National Weather Service, I can tell you much of eastern Massachusetts is still catching up from a multi years drought where many communities had a close to a 3ft deficit!

Surprisingly, I have see more people complaining about the weather on Twitter than on Facebook.  I reality, we don’t have too much to complain about. We have had three glorious falls in a row, with endless sunny days, and unseasonably warm temperatures. This is coming off three beautiful summers in a row, culminating in this past summer, which featured the third hottest summer on record in Boston, which lingered right up until October 10th!

Since then, there has been a change. There has been a few warm spikes, but overall, the chill of autumn has settled in. After one of the warmest starts on record to October, the month actually ended up very close to normal. Could this be the beginning of a long, cold winter? Perhaps. But I’m not ready to pull the trigger on a severe winter us quite yet. I have been spending quite a bit of time researching, reading technical discussions, looking over the latest computer data, and keeping an eye on what Mother Nature is willing to show with natural signs. The results: Inconclusive at this time!

Folks who released their winter forecast back in October and early November may need to re evaluate their forecast. It’s possible that all the research they did back in the early fall is enough to determine the correct forecast. All the power to them! Perhaps their methods are different? I still believe that there are important pieces to evaluate during the pivotal month of November, that hold keys as to what the outcome of the winter will be.

My winter forecast will be published just two weeks from today!  While there are some indications of a rough winter coming, there are just as many conflicting indications that say no. This is when I pull out my secret signs in November to determine which direction to lean in! One of the indicators I use to determine how severe our winter is going to be, is to monitor average  temperatures here in November.

If you’re looking for a very snowy winter, you want to see a roller coaster temperature profile, with lots of rapid changes. At the end of the month, temperatures should come out as close to neutral as possible…plus or minus one degree is ideal. As an added bonus, the month should feature a good amount of precipitation, but not too wet or too dry. This shows that we are close to the jet stream and storm activity.

If you don’t like snow and you’re wishing for a mild winter, a consistent very warm or very cold pattern with little precipitation is not an indication of a snowy winter ahead. Back in November 2015 we averaged +4 degrees during November, and the winter followed suite with one of the warmest winters on record, with below average snow. In contrast, 1997 was a very cold November, with temperatures averaging -4 degrees, but the winter still turned out warm, with below average snow.

There are many other factors I look at in determining the winter forecast. In fact, there are 17 signs I monitor to process my calculation! Another sign I’m watching very carefully, and no doubt has an influence on our temperatures, is the strength and position of the developing El Nino (warm water off the South America coast). Out of all the signs, I believe the temperatures of the oceans have the most influence on our weather.

As a good rule of thumb, the weaker the El Nino is, the more severe our winters tend to be. The position of the El Nino also determines how cold or warm we become here in New England. Pacific central based El Nino’s tend to send much colder weather into the eastern United States, where east based El Nino’s, sloshed up against the western South American coast tend to pump warm air into New England during the fall and winter months.

Where do we stand right now? Earlier this fall, computer models were showing at most a weak central based El Nino was developing for the winter. It appeared as if a severe winter was a lock for eastern New England. However, my good friend, and Atmospheric Science major Remy Mermelstein from Cornell University posted a tweet this morning showing how El Nino has grown, and is now on the threshold of borderline moderate, and looks to have spread basin wide across the Pacific. This latest data has certainly given some pause in the preliminary winter forecast.

Nevertheless, many reliable seasonal long range computer models continue forecast a dangerous scenario for the eastern part of the United States and especially from say Washington D.C to Boston. When I do long range seasonal forecasts, I like to look at years with similar patterns, that may repeat themselves in one way or another. Nothing is ever exact, but we call these analogs. Some years showing up for this year are 1968-69, 1969-70, 1976-77, 1977-78 (wow)! 1986-87,  2002-03, 21009-10, and 2014-15 (oh boy)! All, with the exception of 1986-87 and 2009-10, were blockbuster winters here in eastern Massachusetts. One disclaimer, 1976-77 was brutally cold, but wasn’t overly snowy.

Here’s my final fall foliage report of the season. Wow…it only feels like it just began here in Boston! In many regards, this is true! We had such an exceptionally warm September, right up until October 10th. At that point, the pattern definitely turned decidedly cooler. Still, many leaves were remained mainly green around Boston waiting fore the first frost. It was during the third  week, is when the chilly nights with widespread frosts occurred across the area.

This finally prompted the leaves to begin to change. Typically, there is a burst of color about 10 days after a frost. The forecast I made for this to occur worked out perfectly! Judging by the photos I saw on social media, the colors exploded across the Boston area this past weekend, as peak fall foliage rapidly descended through the city! Unfortunately, the fierce wind storm we experienced on Saturday stripped the leaves prematurely. Nevertheless, there were many vivid reds, yellows and oranges remaining across the city for all to enjoy! I don’t see any extreme winds this week, but more rain will continue to strip the trees of their leaves.

Here in New England, we use the phrase it went from winter straight to summer quite a bit! In fact, this is what happened this past year, when winter lingered all the way through the end of April, then suddenly exploded in May! Could we say the same for fall going straight into winter? A early season cold snap is predicted by most computer models to press into the country starting later this week. this cold wave is then forecast to slowly ease east into New England. Once it arrives, it could stick around for about 10 days or so. However, there are also indications that the cold will ease the last 10 days of the month, leading to speculation as to what the average temperature will be at months end.

With the cold expected, it raises the question whether we may see some early season snowfall along the coastal plain. Right now, I would say it’s almost a lock the mountains and interior locations see accumulating snow sometime between the 12th and 15th of the month. While a bit more difficult, coastal locations may also experience their first snow of the season as well. I will monitor carefully throughout the week!

Now for your weekly outdoor activity autumn forecast. I will rate this week a 6 out of 10. Expect gloomy conditions this afternoon. Rain will begin to spread into the region later on this afternoon, and continue periodically through the night. With northeast winds, temperatures will remain on the chilly side, with highs in the lower 50’s today, and mostly 40’s overnight.

Election Day will feature some damp weather early in the day.  A warm front may actually punch north of the Boston area, spiking temperatures up into the lower to mid 60’s! A strong cold front will be pressing into the region during the afternoon, which will bring widespread showers and possibly even some thunderstorms through the area. Voting early would be your best bet to avoid getting soaked! Expect similar weather tomorrow night, with showers and thunderstorms continuing. It may not be raining all the time, but when it does, have your umbrella!

As the front sweeps off the coast, expect cooler and drier weather for your Wednesday and Thursday, with highs in the 40’s and 50’s, and lows in the 20’s and 30’s region wide.

Yet another storm will threaten for Friday. If this storm passes southeast of New England, it actually may be cold enough to introduce the chance of wet snowfall for the higher terrain of New Hampshire, Vermont, and even western Massachusetts. Otherwise a cold rain can be expected across the coastal plain. Watch for clearing and colder weather to follow this weekend, with highs in the 40’s, and lows in the 20’s and low 30’s. As mentioned earlier, we may step this down further in a big way next week!

Well, that’s about it for now! In next week’s blog, I will be discussing about the prospects of our first snow? I will also be monitoring November temperatures, and have another quick preview of our upcoming winter. In the meantime, keep the umbrella handy, and dust off the winter equipment just in case!

Thanks for reading!

Pete

~Giving thanks and remembering all who gave and service our country today!~

 

 

 

Must Have Been The Rainbows! 10/29/18

Hello! Congratulations to the 2018 World Series Champions Boston Red Sox!! Wow! What a team! Was it coach Belichick speaking before game one? Was it Larry Bird sitting in the stands in L.A.?

No! I believe it was when the double rainbows arched over Fenway Park at the beginning of both games in Boston!

Hard to believe, that a similar scenario occurred back in 2013, the last time the Red Sox won the World Series! Amazing!

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! The well advertised nor’easter blew through here on Saturday with a windswept soaking rain, power outages, and pockets of coastal flooding.

Northeast winds gusted up to 60 mph along the coast, with many locations receiving up to 2″ of rain. Up north, and in higher elevations of greater than 1500 ft, heavy wet snow fell. As luck would have it, some ski resorts actually opened for the season yesterday…the earliest on record!

If you traveled far enough north up into the interior of Maine, you would of run into snow, sleet and freezing rain falling. Mike Haggett of western Maine weather called it, “everything but the kitchen sink!” A very wintry scenario indeed!

For the first nor’easter of the season, I would say it was quite impressive! Could this storm be a indication of what to expect this upcoming winter?

Perhaps, but I’m not ready to make this commitment just yet! Should a storm like this repeat itself during November with a bit more cold air around, then that would be something that would catch my attention!

Speaking of November, we are now just three days away from the start of this transition month. Typically, November is Boston’s cloudiest month. You may also be surprised to learn that November is also Boston’s wettest month, on average. Many call it a gloomy month, with many days of damp, chilly weather.

However, this has not been the case the past several November’s. Abnormally warm ocean temperatures off our coast, has kept New England warmer and drier than normal deeper into November, than what one would normally expect.

What is a typical November like in New England? Typically, it gets colder and wetter. However, this can be quite variable from year to year. Boston normally receives about 4″ of precipitation during November.

I say precipitation, because in some years, this falls as snow! On average, Logan Airport receives about 1.5″ of snow. Not much, but every 5 years or so, the city can receive a significant snowstorm, with greater than 4″ of accumulation.

If you live across the interior, you can double this amount. Up in northern New England and the mountains, November is considered more of a winter month than anything else.

Cold and snow is not uncommon on a line north of Rutland, Vt., Concord N.H. To Portland, Maine. However, even here, year to year variability makes November challenging to forecast, and plan ahead.

Average high temperatures start out in the lower 50’s on the first, only to cool 10 degrees to the lower 40’s by months end. Low temperatures begin in the lower 40’s, and cool to the lower 30’s by the 30th.

This year is no exception. Many long range computer models are signaling warm weather to be the rule in November. This is in stark contrast as to what I had originally been thinking.

However, the devil is in the details. Computer models were also calling for a very warm October. While the first two weeks were very warm, the pattern has turned decidedly colder from mid month on.

While November may feature more variability, I can see similar patterns shaping up for November. However, with winter encroaching, the stakes become higher.

We will have periods of warm weather this month. However, I’m also expecting equal periods of cold weather. Overall, November should finish near to even slightly below average temperatures.

In addition, the month is looking more and more like a typical November around here, with stormy periods and plenty of precipitation. With cold air building in from Canada, I’m expecting our first snowstorm of the season sometime around Thanksgiving!

Before we get there, I have some good news! After another unsettled day today, the weather is going to become warmer this week! Is it possible we may see a touch of Indian Summer??

Yes!! I do believe we may even touch 70 degrees later this week! Since 90% have seen their first frost, I would consider this a touch of Indian Summer for sure!

I see many folks on Twitter saying how disappointing of a foliage season it has been this year. Folks, it’s not over yet! I was out west of Boston yesterday, and the foliage appears to be making one final push, as it closes in on the city.

As has been the case the past several years, the foliage has had to overcome a lot just to get to where it is today! Very warm overnight temperatures in September, and the start of October has delayed our foliage from peaking by at least a week to 10 days.

In addition, a fierce nor’easter on Saturday could not of come at the worse time! The storm produced winds of up to 60 mph and sheets of rain. This was not what we wanted right before peak colors. Not only did the winds strip trees of leaves, but it also mutes the colors for the leaves still on the leaves.

Now for the good news. The frosts we received last week, coupled with mild days ahead, may bring out one final burst of colors during the first week of November. Watch for the Sugar & Japanese Red Maples to make for a very colorful end of foliage season!

Now for your weekly outdoor activity autumn forecast. I will rate this week a 6 out 10. Expect a showery start to your Monday up until about midday. Thereafter, expect improving conditions this afternoon, with possibly some sunny breaks and temperatures warming up into the mid 50’s.

Tonight will feature some low clouds with patchy areas of fog. It won’t be that cold with low temperatures mainly in the 40’s in urban areas, and 30’s in the suburbs.

Tuesday should feature some early clouds, but the afternoon should see some sun breaking through. It will be somewhat on the chilly side, with highs near 50. Tomorrow night will be clear and on the chilly side, with lows in the 20’s and 30’s region wide.

The Red Sox Championship Parade is scheduled for Wednesday at 11 am, This is also Halloween! After a chilly start, look for milder weather to move into the region during the afternoon, with temperatures moving up to above normal levels, with highs in the lower 60’s.

It should be fair and mild for trick or treater’s, with lows only in the 50’s during the evening, dropping to the 40’s later on.

Thursday is looking like our shot at Indian Summer! Expect partly sunny weather with a warm wind. Afternoon temperatures should warm up to at least 70 degrees! Hello November!

A cold front will be slowly moving into the region on Friday. Watch for showers to develop and move into the region. It will still be warm and on the muggy side for November standards, with highs in the upper 60’s.

Showers should end later Friday night, but skies will remain cloudy. It will continue to be mild, with lows only dropping into the 40’s.

Saturday may start out with clouds, but should see increasing sunshine during the afternoon. It will be slightly cooler, with highs in the lower 60’s. Saturday night will be clear and chilly, with lows mainly in the 30’s and lower 40’s.

Sunday will be more like November, with partly sunny skies and a northwest wind. It will be on the chilly side, with highs back into the mid 50’s. Sunday night will be clear and on the cold side, with lows in the 20’s and low 30’s…first 32 degree reading at Logan?

Well that’s about it for now! In next week’s blog, I will be talking about our upcoming winter patterns. I will also have one more fall foliage report and your weekly forecast. In the meantime, keep an eye out for those rainbows…it does the Red Sox wonders!

Thanks for reading!

~Have a safe and Happy Halloween!~

Pete

 

 

Chilly Through Halloween…Storm Brewing? 10/22/18

Hello! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! Other than a few brief showers on Saturday, the weekend was on the dry side. While Saturday featured mild temperatures after a chilly start, Sunday turned decidedly colder, with a brisk wind. Last night featured the first real freeze across the Boston area, with many communities falling at or just below freezing in Boston. In the suburbs, widespread 20’s were common. This ends the growing season for this year!

However, if you want to get technical, Boston’s Logan Airport officially did not drop to 32 degrees yet. Strange as it is, this is where the official temperature readings are for the entire city of Boston. As you can imagine, the weather varies quite a bit from right along the water to neighborhood’s 6 or 7 miles inland. This is why frost and freezes arrive earlier in some parts of the city than others. In fact, the freeze last night is just about when we should expect it to happen in Boston neighborhood’s. On average, Logan Airport does not reach 32 degrees until about November 4th.

A good plan would be to somehow develop a network of official weather observations from each neighborhood in the city, including rainfall, temperature and snowfall accumulation, and average the whole thing out to come up with a smoothed out average for the city as a whole, then compare it to the numbers at Logan Airport! I bet the it would remarkably different. I’m not saying to get rid of the official observation site, just to have two readings. One for Logan, and one for the city of Boston proper. If you want to take it a step further, you can compare the numbers from each site with each other, and Logan. I keep a journal of observations, and I can assure you the weather in West Roxbury, approximately 8 miles southwest from Logan Airport, is different. Not by much, but there is a notable difference.

This is what makes the weather so fascinating and changeable around here. The weather can be so different from one community to the next. No doubt, if you travel just 5 or 10 miles west from where I live, it’s colder in the winter with more snow, and hotter in the summer due to being further away from cooling sea breezes. Same holds true right up the coast through New Hampshire and Maine, within 5 miles of the ocean. The Cape has a different climate all together. With it essentially being a peninsula, storms are more severe, and winters are often milder due to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean.

It’s this same ocean that’s been keeping winter from arriving too early along coastal New England past several years. The Atlantic has been experiencing unusually warmer than normal sea surface temperatures the past 20 yeas or so. In recent years, these temperatures have actually increased. While this may protect us from cold and snow many times through December, we seemed to have been paying big time as we get deeper into the winter and spring. What happens is the as the cold air presses south, it begins to interact with the warm ocean temperatures, creating a volatile baroclinic zone (contrast between cold and warm air). It’s here where the cold air clashes with the warm ocean, giving fuel to our intense nor’easters.

Several friends have been asking me about what my thoughts are for this upcoming winter. They saw NOAA’s press release about them forecasting an overall mild winter coming up. While I do not like their presentation, overall, they did a pretty good job at the general trends last year. What I mean by that is something similar as to what I was talking about for averaging out Boston’s climate data. Nobody could of predicted the wild swings in temperature we experience last winter. However, when you averaged the winter out as a whole, the temperature profile they made last October matched up quite nicely with their forecast. The extremes make the averages. Forecasting snowfall and bitter cold temperatures that occurred was another story, these variables were not mentioned in their forecast.

They may say we don’t forecast snowstorms, and bitter cold temperatures. Then what kind of a winter forecast is it? Are you leaving the general public out there to guess where the coldest weather, and above average amounts of snow is going to fall? I have seen high school amateur meteorologists publish a more detailed forecast. This is not a forecast, but merely a percentage based trend on where they think it’s going.

My knock with NOAA is that they’re biased warm, siding with global warming. There’s nothing wrong with this thinking! NOAA employs some of the most intelligent scientists in the world! However, when you paint the map red (for above normal) just because that has been the trend in recent years, then you’re not doing the public justice.

They may be 100% correct…but I see a much different picture unfolding across New England this winter. My official winter forecast will not be published until November 19th, and there’s still quite a bit of work yet to be done, but at this early juncture, there are many signs pointing towards the worst winter here in eastern New England, since the devastating winter of 2014-15.

I do have sympathy for NOAA. They are a government agency that needs to get this forecast out to the public, in a timely manner. Unfortunately for them, the most pivotal month for forecasting the upcoming winter happens to be in November! I read their discussion, and they are confident that no other changes will be needed heading into the winter. I believe the exact opposite. My motto is, “what happens in November, the winter will remember.”

For instance, I’m watching El Nino (above average warm water in southern Pacific) very carefully. If El Nino becomes too strong, and the warm water stretches from South America to Australia, then it may indeed make for a warmer than normal winter. Warm water placement of the El Nino is a crucial link to the winter. A central based El Nino in the Pacific typically brings New England its harshest winters. Computer models have been flip flopping over this placement and strength for months. I believe the picture will become more clear as we head into November.

How’s our foliage season coming along? Well, it depends who you speak with, and where you go. I believe up north had a better than average season due to some frosts early in September. unfortunately, the same can not be said for here in southern New England. The very warm weather up until October 10th, has taken its toll on the leaves. It prevented them from changing colors. Splashes of early color at the beginning of the month brought hope. While those colors remain, the majority of the trees remain green. I’m not giving up hope!

I believe the frost the city received last night occurred in just a nick of time to most likely bring a burst of beautiful color in our area when peak colors arrives the last week of October and the first week of November. I see the red maples are looking quite healthy this year, and these trees are plentiful around the Parkway area. With chilly temperatures continuing for the rest of the month, watch the leaves come to life as we head towards Halloween!

What’s this talk about a storm? Yes, it’s been on the models for quite a period of time now. Our annual pre Halloween storm is looking more likely coming up this weekend. With all this chilly air in place, and the time of year, the question arises, could snow be involved? Yes, it does show some similarity to the pre Halloween Blizzard back in 2011. If you recall, many communities northwest of I495 received up to 2 ft of heavy wet snow during that storm, cancelling Halloween, and leaving folks without power for weeks. I’m not going there quite yet, but the potential does exist for another heavy wet snow event in locations that are above 1000 ft in elevation on Sunday. With some foliage still left on the trees, and a very warm summer and fall to date, quite a bit of tree damage and power outages could occur if this event materializes.

With ocean temperatures still so warm, I’m not expecting accumulating snow east of I95 this weekend. Before that happens, there will be another quick hitting storm quickly intensifying in the Gulf of Maine later tomorrow. This alone has the potential to bring the first quick hitting snowstorm to interior parts of western and northern Maine, with up to 3 to 6″ of wet snow possible. Indeed the seasons are changing!

Now for your weekly autumn outdoor activity forecast. I will give this week a 5 out of 10. Expect sunny and cool weather for the rest of today, with highs in the low 50’s.

With a southwest wind, it will not be near as cold overnight as last night. It will be dry, and lows will mainly be in the 30’s in suburban areas, and 40’s in urban locations.

Tuesday will feature a warm front trying to push through the area. Areas north of Boston may not even get past 50, while south of Boston may spike up close to 60. The city should be right in the middle with mid 50’s likely. There will be a few showers from time to time tomorrow, right into tomorrow evening. Right now, I am not expecting any delays for the opening game of the World Series tomorrow night at Fenway. If you’re going, definitely bring a jacket, as temperatures will be falling into the upper 40’s.

Wednesday will feature brisk and cool weather, with highs in the lower 50’s. There still may be a few light showers around with disturbances crossing the area, but no washout is anticipated. It should clear out Wednesday evening with chilly wind, lows should bottom out mainly in the 30’s and low 40’s. Watch the full “Hunter” moon rising in the east! Bring a warm jacket, as it will be a bit colder at the game than Tuesday night. Lucky they’re not at Fenway Thursday night!

Thursday will feel more November like than October. The chill will deepen, with a brisk wind. High temperatures will only make it into the mid  40’s. Thursday night will be clear and cold. Widespread 20’s will be common throughout the region. Even Logan Airport may fall to 32 Thursday night!

Friday will be brisk and chilly, with high temperatures struggling to reach 50. Another cold night is on tap for Friday, with lows in the 20’s and 30’s.

A storm will be developing off the mid Atlantic coast on Saturday, and begin to push north into New England Saturday night and into Sunday. Timing will need to be adjusted as the storm evolves.  At the same time, a cold pocket of air aloft may interact with the storm, creating a unusual early season nor’easter. If the storm intensifies as predicted, heavy rain will change to damaging heavy wet snow across the interior of New England, in locations above 1000 ft in elevation. This may include the Berkshires, Green Mountains of Vermont, and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I’m not sure of Maine right now, depends of the track of the storm..

East of I95, in coastal areas, you can expect a windswept soaking rainstorm, with strong east to northeasterly winds of between 30 and 50 mph. Tides are also going to be higher than normal, so the potential for at least minor to moderate coastal flooding does exist. I will monitor and keep everyone posted as I see conditions warrant.

Well, that’s about it for now! In next week’s blog, I will have further thoughts and new ideas on the evolving winter forecast. I will also have your Halloween forecast, as well as a preview of the pivotal month of November, and a review of October. In the meantime, it’s that time of year again…when winter likes to make it’s annual Halloween appearance during fall! Be safe!

Thanks for reading!

Pete

 

 

 

Decidedly More Fall-like! 10/15/18

Hello! I hope everyone enjoyed their weekend! Saturday certainly began cold & wet, with steady rain, and temperatures only in the 40’s. In fact, many locations above 2,000 ft saw their first light snowfall in northern New England! The storm cleared out after 2 pm, bringing with it sunshine to end the day. As the sun came out, the snow capped mountains made for a vivid contrast of winter at the summits, and the autumn colors of fall in the valley floor! A sight many hope to see in New England, while viewing fall foliage! Sunday featured more cloudiness, but there was times of sun, and temperatures moderated to seasonal levels, which made it comfortable to be outdoors.

Sadly for many, summer has come to an end. But what a summer it was! Yes, there were a few cool days here and there, but you could make an argument that summer did not really end until last Wednesday, October 10th! Since October is similar to April in an astronomical calendar, this would be like winter not ending until April 10th! In all fairness, wintry weather actually extended deeper into April, than summer did into October. So, did Mother Nature cheat us some summer weather? Not at all! I believe the warm season featured more weather than the cold season had cold. The statistics are there to prove it. Therefore, folks who love summer definitely got their money’s worth!

Now that fall is here, some may be wondering when our installment of Indian Summer will be arriving? Yes, let me answer that for you shortly. If you have been following my posts, you heard me mention that a major pattern shift was on the way for the second half of October. Well, the pattern has arrived, and we have entered into a decidedly more fall-like weather pattern. The truth of the matter is, autumn’s have been so obscenely warm around here the past few years, many folks have become accustomed to warm temperatures extending well into November!

Remember the endless summer last year, when Boston recorded its warmest October on record? This is not how it’s supposed to be here in New England. We may have several warm October’s in a row, or a warm autumn now and again, but eventually, Mother Nature is going to try and balance things out! Therefore, I’m expecting little if any Indian Summer for the rest of autumn this year. Sorry!

So the long awaited pattern change has finally arrived! The decent towards winter has truly begun. Temperatures have cooled…in fact, many suburbs saw their first frost early Sunday morning. Some years, the cool comes and goes. While we may see a brief warm up here and there, it looks like this pattern change means business. Meaning the cool weather will deepen, and will become cold weather as time moves forward. You may say, Pete, of course it’s going to turn cooler, it’s fall after all!

This may be true, but this pattern change looks to be quite significant in my opinion. Long range computer data is Showing not only a chance for frosts and freezes close to Boston at the end of this week, but even colder weather possible as we head towards the last 10 days of October. Thereafter, the cold continues as we head into November. Remember, Boston typically sees its first frost around the third week of October. Due to its proximity to the ocean, Logan Airport is even later, not recording a freeze until approximately November 4th, on average. While this may seem cold to many, it’s actually closer to average than one thinks, due to the excessively warm weather we’ve been experiencing the past several years.

In addition to the cold, computer models are hinting at some kind of a large scale weather event towards the end of October. Over the years, there have been several of these events in the October 28th to 31st time frame. There was the Great New England Halloween storm of 1991. There was the freakish Halloween Blizzard in 2011, when interior New England received two feet of snow! Then of course there was Sandy, just a year later, that resulted in catastrophic damage across the New York / New Jersey region.

October has its extremes. This October has been no exception. While we’ve been lucky so far up here in New England, other areas of the country, not so much. So far, the strongest October hurricane on record recently struck the panhandle of Florida, delivering a devastating blow. While New England has enjoyed near record warmth, extreme cold and snowstorms has an early winter from the Rockies through Minnesota.

Are we next? Right now, it’s still too early to tell. However, looking at some of the long range computer model information, I would say there’s about a 60% chance of some type of major east coast storm, after October 25th. Does this mean break out the shovels here in Boston? No. Typically, it’s still far too warm for heavy snowstorms in Boston during October. However, inland and up in the mountains, it’s a completely different story! There have been countless of early season storms, including as recent as 2011, that have brought crippling October snowfalls to this region. While heavy snow rarely reaches the coastal plain, light snow accumulations is not unprecedented.

Many want to know, if it snows in October, is this a sign of a bad winter? Surprisingly…no! While there’s no evidence either way across the interior, there is some surprising statistics with snow that falls in major coastal cities, such as Boston in October. It doesn’t happen often, but when snow falls and accumulates during October, the chances increase dramatically for less than average snow the following winter.

In my research, Boston has recorded accumulating snow during October in 1979, 2005, 2009, and 2011. Each of the following winters featured below average snowfall in the city of Boston. To be fair, there have been many other years with no snowfall in October, and the following winter featured below average snow…so it may be just a coincidence. But definitely something to keep an eye on!

As you may know, some of my methodology for making a seasonal winter outlook is natural signs from Mother Nature…so you can see why I’m so interested in the October snowfall theory. If we don’t receive snow in October, it boosts my confidence for the upcoming winter snowfall forecast, for sure! It’s still early, but I am beginning to gather all of my information from the research that I have done, to come up with my final winter forecast for New England, published this year on November 19th.

Last week, I promised a preview for this winter. Because this could get quite involved, I will give you the short and sweet version! At this early juncture, I am seeing an extreme winter ahead for much of New England. What this means is that I see a colder winter ahead than previous years. An active sub tropical jet stream supplied by a weak El Nino, should phase with energy from the northern jet stream, bringing several intense nor’easters, with well above average snow for many, including the coast. Global factors are lining up to deliver a memorable winter, with similar years such as 2002-03, 2009-10, and 2014-15 used analog years (years with similar patterns). Only 2009-10 was mild, with less snow here in New England, but folks in the mid Atlantic got whacked with a historic winter. Winter 2014-15 was our turn here in New England, with all time record historic snows in Boston.

What could go wrong? I am monitoring these possibilities closely. If El Nino continues to grow and expand, reaching moderate strength, it could throw too much heat energy into the atmosphere. If this happens, it would make the winter milder, weaken the polar jet, meaning less phasing, and more rain along the coast. Other areas such as the Indian Ocean may continue to warm faster and stronger than currently forecast. This could alter the jet stream, building a stronger ridge along the east coast, preventing severe colds, and major storms. Another factor, ocean temperatures off New England could plummet, resulting in less fuel for nor’easters to strengthen, meaning weaker storms off our coast. All these possibilities need to be monitored before I make my official forecast on November 19th.

Now for your foliage forecast. I’m very happy to report pictures of absolutely stunning foliage this season! The best was this past weekend, when the first snow fell across the summits, contrasting with the vivid autumn colors at lower elevations. The color wave has settled south, and is now about 90 miles to the north and west of the city of Boston. Although some pockets of peak color is also showing up to the south and southwest of Boston as well. With the frosts expected towards the end of this week, watch the colors to rapidly expand south across Massachusetts, reaching Boston’s suburbs by next week, then pushing into the city of Boston the last week of October and the start of November. So far, the color looks to be much improved from last year, with bright reds, oranges and yellows! Enjoy!

Now for your weekly outdoor activity autumn forecast. I will rate this week a 7 out of 10. Expect cloudy and damp weather for the rest of today, with a few showers from time to time. High temperature should hold in the upper 50’s.

If a warm front pushes through the region this evening, winds may become quite gusty out of the south, southwest upwards to 40 to 50 mph, especially along the south coast. If the front punches north of us,  temperatures may spike into the mid 60’s. However, at the same time, a strong cold front will be slicing through the region, bringing some heavy downpours towards the coast. Later, the winds will shift and become quite gusty out of the northwest. his will act as two things, it will push any humidity out to sea, and it will also turn it much cooler! By dawn, temperatures should fall into the 30’s and 40’s across the region. With a gusty wind, it will also feel much cooler tomorrow.

Tuesday will feature blustery weather, and cool temperatures…a real taste of fall! Temperatures should hold in the mid 50’s. A gusty wind will make it feel colder. Tomorrow night will feature mainly dry. Late at night, winds will tend to relax. This will lead to some chilly temperatures, with lows in the 30’s and 40’s, warmest in urban areas.

Wednesday will see moderating temperatures. With lighter winds, and temperatures near 60, this should make for a pleasant afternoon. Don’t get used to it! Another strong cold front will be charging into New England Wednesday night. While there may be a few showers overnight, the main feature with this front is to bring a much colder air mass.

Watch for much colder but dry weather on Thursday, with high temperatures not getting out of the 30’s up north, and 40’s here in southern New England. Look for cold weather Thursday night, with lows dropping into the teens across parts of northern Maine, 20’s in many other areas of northern New England, and low to mid 30’s here in southern New England. A frost is likely across much of southern New England, except if you live withing 5 miles of the ocean.

Friday will feature milder temperatures, with highs bouncing back into the 50’s with lighter winds. Fair and cool weather can be expected for Friday night.

An approaching cold front may bring scattered rain showers on Saturday, with highs near 60. After this front clears the coast, watch for fair & colder weather to return on Sunday, with highs only near 50. The air may be quite unstable on Sunday, so there is the risk of a few scattered showers in lower elevations, and snow showers in the mountains.

Well, that’s about it for now! In next week’s blog, I will continue to update you on some clues about the upcoming winter. I will also have a new fall foliage report. I will also keep you posted on any potential storms on the horizon. In the meantime, let’s enjoy our fall weather now that it has arrived…and hope it doesn’t skip straight into winter!

Thanks for reading!

Pete

 

Summer’s Last Gasp? 10/8/18

Hello! Happy Columbus Day! I hope everyone is enjoying their long holiday weekend! So far, the weather has been rather tranquil. Saturday featured most sun along the coast, with cloudy weather inland.

Sunday was warmer, but with that came many clouds. There were even some sprinkles and light showers during the afternoon. Nevertheless, temperatures still managed to reach 80 degrees in Boston!

A subtle back door cold front slipped through the region during the late afternoon, yesterday. It’s called a back door cold front because it moves from northeast to southwest across the region. After it passes, winds turned northeast off the ocean, and temperatures begin to drop.

In addition, with the airflow coming in off of the ocean, we could even see some areas of fog and drizzle throughout the day today. Not the best weather for the Columbus Day holiday, but much closer to seasonal levels than yesterday.

Remember Columbus Day weekend, 2011?? At this time of the year 7 years ago, we were in the midst of a stretch of weather that many won’t soon forget. It was full fledged summer around here, with a 5 day stretch with temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s, with deep blue skies!

I’ll never forget my brother taking his family to Old Silver Beach in Falmouth, Ma. that weekend, and saying it was like mid summer conditions! That warm weather was certainly a sign of things to come, as we experienced one of the warmest and least snowiest winters on record that year.

Speaking of warm weather, it’s time for my summer review and overall grade for my forecast. Wow, is all I have to say! I won’t spend too much time on this, as it’s in the past now, and we can’t do anything about it but learn from mistakes. Yet, I’m not going to feel too bad about the forecast, as many were caught off guard by the unexpected hot summer. I have mentioned many times in the past, summer is a VERY tricky season to forecast! Steering currents are weak, and unexpected surprises happen when you least expect it. In this case, the Bermuda High became the dominant player, and was much stronger than expected.

The first two thirds of the forecast started off well. June and July worked out pretty much as I had anticipated. The problems began to arise later in July. While I my forecast was for it to be warm, I did not anticipate it to be the 8th hottest July on record. If the summer ended at the end of July, it would of been perfect! I said from the beginning, August was going to be the wildcard. Computer models could not grasp the pattern.

Many, including myself, were left the only to give an educated guess as to what was going to happen. As it turned out, that guess was wrong. August took off like a run away freight train, becoming the hottest August on record here in Boston! September only added salt to the wound, with the hottest first week of September ever recorded in the history of the city, and 4th hottest on record.

While it turned out to be the 3rd hottest summer on record in Boston, there were many records broken for the persistent heat, and unrelenting humidity. I did forecast it to be a wetter than normal summer, which it was. My forecast of 10 to 14 ninety degree days was right on target at the end of July. However, by the time September finished, that number had ballooned to 23! I did not anticipate it getting so hot during August and September.

The good news is many people enjoy the hot weather, especially after the recent winter that would not go away. So many were fine with the underestimated forecast for heat. The bad news for me is that I put a lot of time and research into seasonal forecast, and the forecast was  a bust in my eyes. Overall grade is based on effort, and the two thirds of the summer that were forecast correctly. The bust came with the nearly double the amount of 90 degree days we received and unprecedented levels of humidity. Grade…C-!

Moving on…we’re onto Columbus Day! While autumn officially began back on September 22nd, Columbus Day is typically the time when our area typically feels the first nip in the air. While there is a nip to the air today, this will not be the case over the course of the next several days here in the Boston area. In fact, you may be wondering if this is the summer that would not go away! Trust me, it’s going away. I know this is difficult for some to let go, but the seasons are changing!

Before that happens, it’s going to feel like summer around here for the next two days! Indian Summer, you may ask? Officially, no. As we discussed a couple posts back, an official Indian Summer occurs only when a region has had its first frost. We have not even come close to our first frost around Boston, yet. The closest we had was last Friday night, when some communities dipped into the upper 30’s. Officially Boston has not even fallen below 50 degrees at Logan Airport.

But all that may soon change. It appears as if a significant pattern change may finally be putting an end to summer! As I mentioned at the beginning of fall, I’m expecting a more traditional fall across much of New England this year. While we began on the warm side, there are signs that the pattern is about to flip, ushering in cooler temperatures, with frosts and freezes across much of southern New England. While this change may be felt as early as this Friday and into the upcoming weekend, it’s really the last 10 days of the month when we will really feel a noticeable difference.

What does this mean? Well, it means cool, crisp days, with highs near to below average, and chilly to perhaps even cold nights, with widespread frosts and freezes across the region. Average first frost across the interior of southern New England is around the first week of October, so we are already running behind schedule. Along the coast, first frost is typically around the third week of October, so that’s looking good, if the anticipated cold weather arrives.

Once the cold air arrives, it looks like it wants to persist into November. I am not anticipating an endless summer into November this year, as we have seen the past several years. This November is shaping up to be near to even slightly below average the way I see it right now. With all that being said, I’m sure there will be several spells of mild days still yet to come as we head into November, but this is a reminder that winter is indeed coming!

Now for your fall foliage report. Traditionally, Columbus Day is the weekend to take a trip up north to see peak fall colors. Unlike last year, this seems to be working out okay this year. From the reports and pictures that I have gathered from Twitter, it appears as if the colors suddenly came on very strong, and that many locations across the White Mountains, higher elevations of Vermont and in Maine, the color is peaking this weekend! Many folks are reporting average to above average color this year, which is a huge improvement from last year.

This is not for folks who live within 50 miles of the coast. This is across the interior of New England, and especially the higher elevations. Over the course of the next three weeks, the color wave will slowly work into the coastal plain. As I have mentioned before, autumn along coastal New England is spectacular! Mild ocean air, mixes with the advancing chill of autumn, modifying the climate, and prolonging the fall foliage season for a couple extra weeks!

I was out and about yesterday, and happened to notice quite a few trees with leaves turning colors right here in Boston! In fact, there were quite a few with some splashes of brilliant colors! This is interesting, as I also had some friends driving out along Rt 2 saying they saw very little color change, in places you would normally expect to see it. Right now, the real show is across northern New England, and perhaps in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. With the colder temperatures expected to arrive this weekend, the fall foliage extravaganza will begin to advance south. In addition, I believe this year is going to be much more colorful than the poor showing last year. Even Mother Nature has off years!

Now for your weekly autumn outdoor activity forecast. I will rate this week a 6 out of 10. Expect overcast skies for the rest of this afternoon. I’m sure you have already noticed, today is significantly cooler than yesterday, by some 20 degrees! There may also be some areas of patchy drizzle, and fog. High temperatures will only be in the upper 50’s to around 60.

Watch for cloudy weather to continue overnight. The difference is that a warm front will be pushing through the region. Behind this warm front, winds are going top shift from the northeast, into the southwest. This is a warm weather wind direction for our region. This also means temperatures will be holding steady, or even rising as dawn approaches.

Southwest winds will usher in much warmer weather tomorrow! After a murky start, with areas of dense fog, the sun should slowly emerge leading to a very warm afternoon. If we get enough sun, I could see temperatures warming up to 80 degrees…let’s go for it!

Tomorrow night will feature mild temperatures, with overnight lows holding mainly in the 60’s. No rain is expected, just another round of patchy dense fog, especially across coastal locations and on Cape Cod.

Low clouds and fog should burn off more quickly on Wednesday. Therefore, I’m expecting more sunshine, and even warmer weather! It would not shock me if we had temperatures above 80 degrees in many spots! This could be summer’s last gasp I mentioned in my title! Beach anyone??

While all this is happening, we actually have Hurricane Michael which has developed in the Caribbean Sea this past weekend. This is still very normal for this to happen this time of the year, as hurricane season extends all the way until November 30th. This hurricane is currently a category 1 storm, but is forecast to possibly strengthen into a category 3 before it makes landfall somewhere in the Florida panhandle on Wednesday. This is a major hurricane, with winds possibly as strong a 120 mph.

After it makes landfall, it is forecast to move towards the Carolinas, then move northeast, and pass south of New England later Thursday and into Friday. At the same time, a strong cold front will be moving east from New York state. This front will likely absorb some of the moisture from Michael, as it slowly tracks across the region later Thursday and into Friday with periods of showers and downpours, some of which can be heavy. Timing is very difficult to pin down at the moment. Expect unsettled weather on either Thursday or Friday, or possibly even both days.

After the front pushes offshore, winds are expected to turn northwest, and usher in the coolest air of the season this weekend. Saturday could still see temperatures in the low 60’s, but this may cool down into the 50’s by Sunday, with partial sunshine. Lows overnight will turn chilly, with many 30’s and 40’s showing up across the region, with even colder weather Sunday night, with a first frost across suburbia!

Well, that’s about it for now! In next week’s blog, I will have some preliminary thoughts about this upcoming winter. I will also have a new fall foliage report! In the meantime, enjoy the warm weather next couple of days…as summer says goodbye!

Thanks for reading!

Pete

~Happy Birthday to my sister, Valerie! October 10th.~

 

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