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September 2016

Extreme Drought Continues Historic Expansion

HD_DROUGHT_MONITOR (1)Each Thursday we receive an update to the “Drought Monitor” – the updated status of ongoing drought areas across the nation, as determined by a University/Government consortium.  Though we received some rain earlier this week – and it was taken into account for this week’s Drought Monitor update – the fraction of an inch simply wasn’t enough to make a noticeable difference.  In fact, extreme drought has expanded noticeably farther northeast through Maine in this week’s update.

So, how does this stack up in history?  First, in nearly all areas this pales in comparison to the drought of 1961-69…the worst in New England’s recorded history and the result of dry summers and winters, back-to-back.  Having said that, our current situation in New England is surely still noteworthy, ranking among the worst in the 16 year history of the Drought Monitor, which began in 2000.  More specifically, Massachusetts holds at 52% of the Commonwealth in extreme drought this week - continues as the worst in 16 year drought monitor database. With 19.3% of the Granite State in extreme drought, NH also is at the worst extent of this drought status in 16yr drought monitor database.  Interestingly, even dramatic expansion of extreme drought in Maine means about 8% of the state in extreme drought, ranking #16 since 2000.  Worth noting, these "rankings" are out of the *weekly* status updates since 2000, not individual drought *events*.  Grouped by event, Maine currently ranks second in the 16 year database, only behind the drought of '01-'02, and of course, this doesn’t include the drought of the 60s, mentioned above.

Bottom line:  we are still, as a region, in desperate need of rain.  Though the upcoming weekend will deliver some rain, highest amounts will focus on Southern New England, and may nearly pass over parts of the North Country…good news for leaf peepers but not for the drought status.  We’re watching Tropical Storm Matthew in the Tropical Atlantic, but the storm’s eventual path is quite unclear – at this point, we estimate here at NECN there is a 40% chance of seeing any impact, including rain, from Matthew next Thursday in the exclusive 10-day forecast.

Record Cold This Morning, Needed Rain En Route

ColdtempsAs the coldest air of the young fall season swept across New England Sunday night into Monday morning, overnight low temperatures dipped well into the 30s for many, prompting frost advisories all the way south to the interior southern suburbs of Boston.  Monday morning dawned with a thick frost for many, from Northern Maine to Central Connecticut and valleys of Central Rhode Island.

In Lakeville, Connecticut, weather observer John Hoffman reported a layer of ice atop the car, as heavy dew froze in the early morning as temperatures dropped into the middle 30s.  It’s worth noting – air temperatures as measured by the thermometer don’t need to drop below freezing for frost to develop: it’s all about the “laminar layer.”  The laminar layer is a thin layer of air that surrounds all objects, only a few millimeters thick at its deepest point, and this laminar layer surrounds cars, blades of grass, rocks and just about everything else.  Though the air temperature a few feet off the ground, as measured by our thermometers, may hover in the middle or even upper 30s, on an undisturbed night devoid of wind, the laminar layer can cool dramatically more, which is why frost develops even as measured air temperatures linger several degrees above the freezing mark.  As the sun rises, the laminar layer warms quickly, melting away the frost.  Of course, coldest pockets saw enough cooling not only to generate frost, but to produce a hard freeze – temperatures dropping below 32°…and for some, a hard freeze of 28° or colder for three hours straight, though that was mostly only observed in Northern New England Valleys.

Perhaps most noteworthy of our chilly morning temperatures was Chicopee, Massachusetts, dropping to 30 degrees and setting a new cold record for the date, beating the old record of 32 set in 1949.  Other cold spots, by state, included Norwood, Massachusetts, just southwest of Boston, at 28 degrees; Amston, Connecticut, hit 31° and took coldest spot in the Constitution State; Little Rhody saw Kingston drop to 33°; Vermont’s coldest spot of 26° in the Northeast Kingdom’s East Burke is nothing exceptional by Vermont standards, but was enough to bring a hard freeze to town; Northern New Hampshire’s town of Errol was coldest in the Granite State at 27° and Cupsuptic Lake in Oquossoc, Maine, dropped to 26°.

Here in the NECN Weather Center, we don’t expect temperatures to be anywhere near as cold Monday night, as warmer air and clouds begin streaming in ahead of a shot of rain expected Tuesday morning – rain that will serve as a precursor to a pattern shift that raises the chance for measurable rain that may total over one inch for some over the next week.

As Hermine Weakens, Weather Changes Accelerate

HD_FRONTS (2)The remnant circulation of what was Hermine continues spinning south of New England, over the Atlantic waters, and this means we continue to see an onshore wind flow here at home. The result of the continued wind off the water will be a day that features humid air, and scattered showers with embedded downpours here and there. That said - most of New England will see several dry hours today with breaks of sun allowing temperature to rise to about 80 degrees - slightly cooler at the coast. Expect any showers to diminish this evening as Hermine's storm circulation weakens even more, though some patchy coastal drizzle and fog will develop beneath abundant New England cloud cover overnight Wednesday night into early Thursday morning. As Hermine's skeletal remains are swept away by an increasing steering wind Thursday, sunshine will break out with a peak in humidity and temperatures rebounding into the 80s by afternoon. Though storms are not expected during the day Thursday, Thursday evening and night will see a disturbance arriving from the west with showers and thunder focused especially in Central and Northern New England an overnight shower south. Decreasing humidity but continued heat expected on a storm-free Friday, ahead of comfortable Saturday air. The next chance of showers comes Saturday evening and night - and may linger into Sunday morning before departing - but it's early to say just how much rain will fall. Next week brings some swings in high temperatures, but generally features cooling toward the end of the exclusive NECN Early Warning Weather 10-day.