For many New Englanders, this is exactly the type of winter storm you ask our First Alert Weather Team for: snow north and rain south – not to mention, a dry morning commute, to boot. As the next storm system moves east – split between one area of low pressure in Southern Quebec and another directly over Southern New England – the cold air is retreating quickly in response to a strengthening southeast breeze that will mean mostly raindrops in Southern New England as precipitation arrives late Tuesday morning and lasts through the evening. In Northern New England, cold air is better established, and another three to six inches of snow are expected to only further improve ski and snowmobile conditions, which have improved dramatically over the last couple of weeks. Of course, Vermont and New Hampshire students are still in school, so dismissals will be a bit dicey with snow falling for particularly Central and Northern parts of both states, but farther south, wet roads are expected for the afternoon and evening drive. Showers exit tonight and we’ll be on guard for at least a couple pockets of black ice to develop toward dawn in Southern New Hampshire and Maine, as well as Northern Massachusetts. Any black ice would melt fairly quickly Wednesday morning with fair sky expected and temperatures rising into the 40s south and 30s north, though a busy westerly wind will drive wind chill values some ten degrees colder, not only making for a brisk day, but also raising the possibility of summit chairlift holds in the mountains where skiers will be eager to take advantage of the fresh snow. No worries – Thursday’s wind will be quieter as cold and dry air takes hold with highs only in the teens and 20s under a fair sky, but that dry air holds on through the weekend as the cold nature of the air slowly relaxes Friday and nearly is extinguished by Saturday and Sunday. Next week our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast focuses on a return to a busy, fast jet stream pattern aloft – steering multiple disturbances our way. This both raises the potential for unsettled weather next week, but also puts New England on the edge of northern cold and southern warmth, so there’s a distinct possibility we see more events featuring mild showers south and snow showers north, but that will depend on storm track and timing with such a big temperature difference from north to south, and placement of that difference dependent upon storm track.
Daily Weather Discussion
Although a few snow showers accompanied an upper level disturbance Monday morning through the mountains of Northern New England, the trend for our Monday has been toward sunshine with dry air in charge, at least for now. Wispy cirrus clouds – high altitude clouds that portend an approaching storm – will gradually increase Monday evening and night, slowly lowering and thickening through the morning Tuesday. The next storm system, migrating east from the Plains States to New England, crosses our six-state region on Tuesday, but enters air only marginally supportive of snow rather than rain, and too warm for snow in much of Southern New England. It’s all about timing for this one – after the last few storms arrived overnight or during predawn hours during the coldest time of the day in an extended relatively mild winter pattern – this storm arrives after daybreak, giving the atmosphere a chance to warm a bit during the morning. In Vermont and Western New Hampshire into the Berkshires, precipitation arrives first, starting during the morning commute while the air is still cold enough to support snow. As the snow expands east, Northern New England will remain cold enough for mostly snow with only some sleet mixing in late in the day before ending, resulting in over half a foot of new snow for the mountains and a general three to six inches in Northern New England: music to the ears and eyes of skiers and snowmobilers, particularly those on vacation with kiddos on February break. Farther south, perhaps the happy news is temperatures will be mild enough for a mix of snow, sleet and rain when the storm sets in during middle to late morning, with above-freezing temperatures allowing any road treatments to work effectively from Southern New Hampshire through Central Massachusetts and perhaps an inch or two on colder surfaces, with mostly rain expected farther south. Rain, sleet and snow will wrap up during late afternoon to early evening, gone by dinner and giving way to a breezy but milder-than-normal day Wednesday. Wednesday wind may be gusty enough for some chairlift holds, particularly during the morning, to the summits of Northern mountain ski resorts. By Thursday and Friday, the wind quiets a bit but cold air will be in place, also dry in nature and assuring a dry forecast for most of us, even as temperatures moderate this upcoming weekend. By next week, moisture increases ahead of a strong storm in the nation’s midsection, increasing our chance of rain and northern snow showers with temperatures – perhaps not surprisingly at this point – expected to continue running above normal in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.
Sunshine has been a commodity in our New England weather, but we’ll start to make up for that this weekend – the trade-off is cold air. Of course, it’s not like those who dislike cold can complain much – in this mild winter, a forecast low temperature of 9° in Boston Friday night would be the coldest temperature this season and, in fact, would end a stretch of 378 days above ten degrees in the City – the third longest such stretch in recorded history, with 1931-32 spanning 658 days and 2001-2003 covering 703 days. In addition to the cold, a gusty Friday wind has been driving wind chill values colder as the day progresses – the morning was the best feeling time of the day – with afternoon and evening wind chill values dropping through the teens into the single digits before actual temperatures bottom out overnight, with some northern suburbs of Boston seeing the thermometer dip below zero and most of Northern and Central New England subzero by dawn. The big difference Saturday won’t be in temperature – at least for most of Southern New England, temperatures will be comparable to Friday afternoon though the North Country will see a bit of a recovery – but the big and noticeable difference will be the absence of wind. A light wind through most of the day will mean wind chill values won’t be too far off the actual highs in the 20s for most and teens north, so impact on the body will certainly be less harsh than Friday. This winter hasn’t really allowed for cold air to take hold for extended periods of time, so by Sunday afternoon high temperatures will already be recovering to near or over 40 degrees, though the changing air will mean more clouds than sun and a few morning flurries or snow showers are possible, particularly in Northern New England. Presidents Day looks quiet next week with the next storm center likely to drag enough warmth and moisture into New England for us to see a possible burst of some wet snow Monday night or Tuesday morning changing to mild rain showers for at least Southern New England as the day wears on…likely to yield to another quick shot of briefly colder weather behind it. By next weekend, at the end of our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast, temperatures look to return above normal, with a chance of showers or mixed showers returning.
Another messy morning Thursday came courtesy of yet another weak storm center passing south of New England with only marginally cold enough air for snow in the six-state region. The result: disorganized pockets of snow in Northern New England, a shield of heartier snow in Central New England and snow that changed to rain in Southern New England. Expect rain to continue periodically in Southern New England up to Southern New Hampshire through the middle afternoon, possibly flipping back and forth between rain and snow but unlikely to add more accumulation on top of what we’ve already seen. Farther north, snow accumulation rates will slow considerably after either side of four inches of snow, and farther south the rain slows travelers and keeps lunch hour wet, but also should shut down from west to east, early to late afternoon, respectively, except not until evening on Cape Cod. Be sure to clear off the driveway before bed tonight! Partial overnight clearing with a strengthening northwest wind will send temperatures below freezing overnight Thursday night and they won’t rise above the melting point again until Sunday afternoon, meaning sloppy, waterlogged snow on the driveway will freeze solid and stick around if we don’t clear it off by tonight. Friday and Saturday high temperatures will be as cold as the single digits north to 20s south, with wind chill values some ten degrees colder Friday and a lighter wind Saturday, with sunshine the one redeeming grace. Sunday likely brings increasing clouds but that’s in response to milder air returning to New England with high temperatures in the 30s and 40s Sunday afternoon, and next week it looks like another storm center will push warmth into New England through the middle of the week, meaning the chance of rain showers rises – possibly snow showers in Northern New England – but no big winter statement is in the exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.
A much-needed breather in the weather has arrived for our midweek in New England, with enough dry air to push out most of the clouds Wednesday morning with sunshine coupling with a wind that shifts to blow from the southwest by afternoon to push temperatures over 40 degrees for most of Central and Southern New England. Sunshine will fade during the late afternoon as clouds arrive hundreds of miles in advance of an approaching storm center, chock full of moisture from the Pacific and Gulf of Mexico and poised to produce a post-midnight wintry mess for much of New England Wednesday night into Thursday. For the South Coast and anywhere within about 40 miles of the South Coast, nearly all rain is expected. Farther north, amounts increase from a coating to an inch or two moving north through the Massachusetts Turnpike corridor, and two to four inches from far northern and western Massachusetts into Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, with half a foot in the mountains. The rain/snow line that starts far south quickly springs north Thursday morning, riding all the way into Southern New Hampshire by mid-morning and leaving periodic rain in the southern half of New England for the remainder of Thursday with snow north of that until drier air purges precipitation late in the day, allowing colder and drier air to move in from Thursday night all the way through Saturday. Although the snow may end up sloppy after being rained on, getting it cleared off the driveway where it lingers Thursday afternoon or evening would be a great idea before it freezes in place for a few to several days - high temperatures Friday and Saturday will only be in the 20s south and teens to single digits north, with Sunday bringing a shifting wind for more moderate air, increasing clouds, but likely a mostly dry day. Next week, our weather turns unsettled again in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast, but it looks like warmer-than-normal conditions persist for more raindrops than snowflakes in Southern New England, though the chance for wintry precipitation will be higher in the north.
Another day of murky weather has unfolded for most of New England, though just how wet each of us are depends upon northward extent: the persistent plume of moisture with a focal point south of New England extends far enough north to spread rain across Southern New England through middle to late afternoon and a mix of snow and rain showers for a brief time over Central New England. A wave of low pressure – a storm center – focusing the moisture today, will ripple east through the atmosphere later Tuesday, ushering in a northerly and then westerly wind that will carry drier air across the region, kicking rain out by the evening drive and breaking clouds overnight Tuesday night. The clouds will break slowest in the mountains, but any breaks will be important and open the door for a fun opportunity: viewing the Northern Lights! A burst of energy from the sun should reach earth tonight, exciting the upper atmosphere and resulting in a display of the Aurora Borealis for Northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Central to Northern Maine…once breaks in the clouds increase after midnight, the best opportunity to view the lights will open. The clearing trend continues regionwide in the second half of the night, bringing a much-needed day of sunshine and change of pace Wednesday, in a brief opportunity to dry out ahead of the next disturbance in a very fast-moving weather pattern. That next disturbance arrives overnight Wednesday night, dragging a swath of snow with it that will accumulate but quickly change to mix, then rain, in Southern New England by Thursday morning, while Central New England stays wintry into the morning and Northern New England sees mostly snow, with snow accumulations ranging from little to nothing near the South Coast, to one or two inches in the Boston Metro and as much as four inches with locally higher amounts in parts of Central and Southern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. Because of the likely impact of snow and rain to the morning commute, a First Alert has been issued by our weather team for Thursday morning. A burst of chilly and dry air starts pouring into New England Thursday afternoon, pushing rain and snow out and setting our six-state region up for a mostly dry weekend, but a chilly stretch with Friday and Saturday high temperatures only in the 20s to around 30, colder north. As the air moderates Sunday, the next disturbance approaches with a building chance of mixed showers Sunday night and continuing into early next week, with a milder-than-normal but wetter-than-normal week expected in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.
An unsettled week of weather has begun with a weak storm center delivering an extended plume of moisture to New England, fed by a connection to Pacific moisture. Colliding with what little cold air is left in New England, the incoming moisture produced a fresh two to four inches of snow in Northern New England Sunday night into Monday morning, with a bit less in the Northern Berkshires and much less – but still enough for icy spots on untreated roadways – to north-central and Western Massachusetts as well as northern Connecticut. The feed of moisture to New England will slowly sag south for awhile Monday afternoon, focusing south of the MA Turnpike for a time before another center of low pressure ripples northeast and pushes rain back across most of Southern New England Monday evening for the commute. With another break in precipitation overnight Monday night and perhaps even some partial clearing, temperatures will drop into the 20s north and 30s south, with some black ice a possibility in Northern MA into Southern NH. Tuesday’s next round of moisture arrives by mid-morning, but some scattered showers may precede the main burst of rain, and if those initial showers arrive during the morning drive, a few deep inland locales could see a touch of freezing rain early Tuesday morning, but by and large and expectation is plain rain for the vast majority of Southern New England. Central and Northern New England will be cold enough for snow showers, but not much moisture is likely to reach that far north, keeping impact minimal. New England finally gets a breather Wednesday – a shot of drier air starting Tuesday night will deliver dry midweek conditions, even though high-altitude clouds will dim the sunshine. In a busy weather pattern with a roaring jet stream wind aloft – responsible for assisting commercial aircraft in making a record-fast flight from New York to London this past weekend – any breather doesn’t last long before the next disturbance, likely to bring rain and snow showers Thursday…then a pronounced burst of cold and dry air for Valentine’s Day and Saturday, keeping high temperatures in the 20s to around 30 but delivering at least some sunshine both days and holding the next chance of snow and rain off until Sunday evening or night. The pattern of fast-paced disturbances with generally warmer-than-normal temperatures is expected to redevelop next week in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.
The intense upper level atmospheric energy that’s been driving our stormy weather of the last couple of days is poised to move over New England Friday afternoon. The passage of our storm center – an intense one with a plummeting barometer, indicating a well-developed storm structure – will mean intense weather across New England Friday afternoon, but the type of intense weather will be vastly different across the six states. In the North Country, cold air pressing south out of Canada will change a snow and sleet mixture to heavy snow in Northern Vermont, the Great North Woods of New Hampshire and northwestern to northern Maine, with a foot of new snow on Friday alone in these spots. Farther south in Central Vermont to the White Mountains and Central Maine, several new inches are expected but only minor accumulations are expected farther south where sleet, snow and freezing rain mix together for continued icy back roads. Southern New England started with icy roads Friday, mostly on back roads near and outside of Route 495 in Eastern MA points west and north. The approaching storm center Friday afternoon will drag a surge of southwesterly wind into some of Southern New England ahead of the center of low pressure, with winds shifting to blow from the southwest and rapidly increasing Friday afternoon from roughly the Boston Metro to Providence Metro to Eastern Connecticut points southeast. By late Friday afternoon, winds will gust 50 to 70 mph, downing tree limbs, trees and taking our power for some in Southeast New England. It’s possible a few locations even gust higher than 70 mph by the time Friday evening is over! These damaging winds will decrease below damaging levels by around 9 PM and while windy conditions persist overnight, new damage will be less likely. The new Friday night wind will be a cold wind for one and all, clearing the sky but dropping temperatures and leaving strong enough wind gusts for some possible ski lift holds Saturday morning, particularly on summit chairlifts. That said, both Saturday and Sunday – which will be decidedly less windy – will bring building afternoon clouds with a chance of flurries, but nothing substantial. A couple of disturbances early next week bring the chance for rain showers south and snow showers north, with most of the week delivering high temperatures in the 40s for Central and Southern New England and 30s north before slightly cooler and drier air ends the week in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast.
The sky looks threatening across most of New England Tuesday, but the gray clouds will fail to produce anything more than a few sprinkles near the South Coast and some flurries in the North Country of New England. Nonetheless, the abundance of clouds indicates New England continues on the edge of two very different airmasses – cold Canadian air to the north and warm air over the Mid-Atlantic United States. Of course, a battle zone of temperature also can mean a ripe storm-breeding ground and a couple of storm centers are forecast to develop for the middle and end of the week. Thursday, a storm center passing to our south in the morning will focus a burst of snow, sleet and rain for New England, expanding from southwest to northeast late Wednesday night into early Thursday morning, dropping anywhere from one or two inches of snow for interior Southern New England to three or four inches from Southern to Central New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. The Thursday burst of wintry mix comes on the leading edge to somewhat warmer air pushing north, likely to throttle the wintry mix back to scattered rain showers by Thursday midday and afternoon. By Thursday night, warmer air will be so evident that temperatures in much of New England may actually rise during the overnight into Friday morning, assuring when the next storm center ripples through we’ll see mostly rain with the exception of the North Country where snow and sleet will continue to fall. Later Friday, colder air will settle back south again, but that cold surge happens as moisture is ready to pull away from New England to the northeast, so it’s likely only the North Country sees additional snow accumulation while the rest of us probably don’t see more than either tapering rain showers Friday or showers ending as a few snow showers. Colder, drier air takes hold for the start of the weekend on Saturday with sunshine and cool temperatures, but as a storm center ramps up south of New England Sunday, there’s a chance Southern New England may find ourselves on the northern fringe of the storm, in a shield of accumulating snow…so this is a setup we’ll watch carefully. Nonetheless, our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast shows no big cold air outbreaks next week, either, as the warmer-than-normal pattern we forecast in our February monthly outlook unfolds, with frequent disturbances every couple of days bringing recurring chances for rain, mix and, from time to time and especially north, snow.
As with the first weekday morning of every month, today I released our First Alert monthly forecast – and February is looking warm. This comes as no big change to the pattern of January – ranking third warmest in recorded history for the City of Boston, for example, and leaving a dearth of natural snowpack in areas that are accustomed to seeing more snow for skiers and snowmobilers in places like Central and Southern Vermont, Central New Hampshire and interior Maine…and a month of mostly bare ground in much of Southern New England. There’s not much sign the warmer-than-normal weather pattern will change appreciably for Southern New England in the month of February, with an active jet stream expected to tap both the Pacific and the Gulf of Mexico for moisture and warmth – not only pumping warmth into the Eastern half of the Lower 48, but also delivering enough moisture for a wetter-than-normal month in the East, as well.
While warmer and wetter than normal isn’t exactly encouraging for winter sports and winter weather enthusiasts, it’s important to note this prediction doesn’t mean all hope is lost. In fact, for the North Country - particularly the far north of Vermont, Great North Woods of New Hampshire and Northern Maine - there is still plenty of hope for a couple of reasons. First, we’re actually predicting near-normal temperatures right at the Canadian border, which in and of itself lends hope for snow. Second…even if temperatures rise above normal in these northern reaches, the abundance of moisture streaming into New England raises the chances for accumulating snow over the course of the month. That said, the signal certainly isn’t as positive as cold and wet, and the farther south one is, the less the chance we make up a snow deficit in February…though the deficit may not be as great as public perception would place it, believe it or not. Someplace like Boston or Concord, NH, are running about nine inches below normal for snow, but Worcester is only two to three inches below normal and someplace like Portland, Maine, is actually about half a foot above average for snow this year! This not only is evidence that even mild winters can produce snow…at least for some…but also is what keeps the door open to cranking out new snow in the month ahead, particularly the farther north one is.