Busy Breeze, Lightning, Hail and a Rocket - Welcome to Spring in New England!

LKN_NBCU_POP_D1_NEWENG (1)Could the fourth time be a charm for the launch of the Black Brant XII rocket for NASA?  After a delay last week due to thunderstorms, and two more delays Saturday and Monday nights due to unfavorable upper level wind, the next opportunity is this evening, Tuesday, at 8:05 PM with a 40 minute launch window.  The delayed shuttle launch will work in New Englanders’ favor if it does, indeed, take off tonight – we’ve been mostly cloudy for the last three opportunities but this evening there’s a good chance many communities would have a view of the shuttle in the southeast sky.  Early clouds in New England Tuesday morning gave way to strengthening sun but with a several upper atmosphere disturbances moving through the sky above, new clouds will bubble in the sky Tuesday afternoon, dropping scattered showers in Northern New England and a few sprinkles possible south.  In Maine, showers developing in cold air aloft will find enough ice crystals atop the clouds to produce some lightning strikes, graupel (soft snow pellets) and hail.  It’s Northern New England that will find the slowest retreat of clouds as we head toward launch time this evening, though deeper into the evening – closer to midnight – a round of clouds and sprinkles is possible in far Southern New England with another disturbance aloft.  Dry air at ground level means once skies clear for good after midnight, temperatures will fall easily, dropping to either side of 40 degrees for a crisp but sunny start to Wednesday.  Yet again, Wednesday brings another disturbance that will build large, puffy clouds, eventually growing heavy enough by afternoon to drop scattered showers with a few rumbles of thunder, this time perhaps into Southern New England including much of Eastern MA.  With the passage of that last gasp of strong energy and cold air aloft, the path will be cleared for a great day Thursday with temperatures rebounding to around 70 degrees, likely to repeat Friday even with increasing clouds.  Another round of disturbances aloft cross the sky of New England this weekend, elevating our chance of showers during each afternoon Saturday and Sunday, but neither day right now looks like a washout, leading to a continuation of spring temperatures heading into next week in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.

Improving Weather Gradually Unfolds Over the Week

LKN_FRONTS_BOSDMA (26)After starting the week with steady rain Monday morning, heaviest rain quickly shifted east and offshore, leaving behind plenty of clouds and some lingering sprinkles for most of New England.  In the North Country, some breaks of sun will probably emerge Monday, with any possible breaks of sun farther south not emerging until very late in the day if at all, and with atmospheric energy still overhead, scattered showers will develop out of the hills and mountains of Northern New England Monday afternoon.  With plenty of clouds, temperatures will be hard-pressed to rise out of the 50s for most of Southern New England and lower 60s north, though wind will be light.  A stronger upper level disturbance Monday night will deliver a period of late evening and overnight rain from west to east across Northern New England with a passing shower or sprinkle around or just after midnight farther south, leading to a drying westerly wind that will start clearing skies for sunrise Tuesday.  Tuesday looks delightful for most of New England – fair sky and a fresh breeze with westerly winds gusting to 30 mph at times, while the fair weather clouds in Northern New England likely will build tall enough for some new scattered showers in the hills and mountains during Tuesday afternoon.  New England remains under a jet stream “trough” through midweek – keep in mind the jet stream is the fast-flowing river of air, high in the sky, that steers disturbances and storms, and separates cool air to the north from warmer air to the south, and a trough is when the jet stream dips to the south, encouraging disturbances and cooler air to move through.  Wednesday afternoon will feature another disturbance dropping over New England in this trough, meaning sunshine will likely yield to increasing clouds with some scattered showers developing during the afternoon.  Behind Wednesday’s disturbance, the best day of the week arrives Thursday: sunshine and 65 to 70 degrees for an afternoon high temperature.  Friday won’t be far off from Thursday’s splendor, though clouds will increase ahead of a chance of rain Friday night.  A nearby and nearly stalled frontal boundary – the battling edge of cool and warm air – will be relatively close to New England this weekend, with storm centers likely developing to our south along that front, meaning some scattered showers are possible both weekend days, though neither appears to be a washout right now, and the chance of showers very well may decrease as we get closer to the weekend if showers end up consolidated closer to the front.  At this point, it looks like we warm slowly but surely into next week at the end of our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.

Much Needed Sunshine Arrives, Boosting Pollen Count, UV Index

LKN_NBCU_POP_D2_NEWENG (2)LKN_NBCU_POP_D2_NEWENG (2)The sun has returned!  It’s been a long stretch of clouds – specifically, nine days since the last time Boston saw less than 50% cloud cover averaged over the course of a day – and the emerging strong sun will undoubtedly deliver an emotional boost to New Englanders.  Also getting a boost Thursday and Friday will be the pollen count and UV index, both reaching very high levels with the UV index very high for the first time this season as the sun angle continues to strengthen.  Adding to the sun and dry air, contributing to the rising pollen count, will be a fresh breeze Thursday morning and midday that adds an invigorating feeling to our fresh spring air, but unlocks a myriad tree pollen, led by maple.  A disturbance causing showers in the Great Lakes Thursday will move east, delivering variable clouds to New England Thursday night through Friday, but no rain is expected from these clouds.  While Thursday’s wind blows from the west, keeping interior and coastline all pretty equal at 60 to 65 degrees, Friday’s wind shifts and blows gently off the ocean, likely to hold daytime high temperatures in the 50s at the coast versus 60s inland.  Our First Alert Team has been paying close attention to Saturday’s forecast for days as a slug of intense atmospheric energy aloft is predicted to move overhead.  From several days out, there was concern this disturbance could cause a coastal storm close enough to the coast to bring a period of rain, but as we’ve neared Saturday, the speed of the disturbance has slowed and the track has nudged southward, leaving us with a Saturday forecast that now looks cloudy, but salvages at least the first half of the day in Eastern New England with showers increasing from Western to Central New England during the morning and midday, then expanding east as scattered showers during the afternoon if all goes as planned.  The developing ocean storm chugs east by Sunday, delivering some well-deserved sunshine mixed with increasing clouds Sunday and mild temperatures with only a low chance of late day showers, especially in far Southern New England, before rain fills in from south to north Sunday night through Monday.  The middle of next week is looking good in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast, then rain chances rise again for the end of next week, hopefully departing before next weekend.