Dry Spring Days Provide Boost for Many, But Also for Pollen Count & Brush Fire Danger

LKS_FIREDANGER (2)Beautiful spring weather Tuesday is much anticipated for so many New Englanders, with afternoon high temperatures reaching 55 to 60 degrees across most of the Southern half of New England and near or over 50° even in the North Country!  For some, snow is still melting, but it’s melting fast – at the rate of 2” to 3” per day!  This has taken previous 2+ foot snowpack in spots and reduced it to around or even under a foot in the past few days and continue to shrink steadily – though there is some more accumulating snow on the horizon for some.  Before diving into weekend snow chances, though, we’ll enjoy what we have – a large dome of high pressure, or fair weather, over the Eastern United States maintains a fair sky, marred only by variable morning clouds from a jet stream level disturbance that quickly traverses New England from west to east Tuesday morning to midday, departing for lots of afternoon sun.  A steady westerly breeze won’t have much impact on how the day feels, serving more as a pleasant spring breeze but also contributing to the drying that’s been happening in the combination of dry air and sun.  In fact, this combination has served to dry out last year’s dead brush on the ground of Southern New England, raising brush fire danger to high for Southeast MA, Southern RI and far Southern CT, and moderate from Hartford to Boston.  Keep in mind, far and away the top causes of brush fires in New England are cigarettes tossed aside that roll into brush, and brush burning embers that float astray and start a new fire.  Pollen count is on the rise, too, reaching moderate to high levels Tuesday and Wednesday in Southern New England, but mostly focused on juniper and poplar, which isn’t hitting the big tree pollen allergens many suffer from.  UV Index has increased to moderate with the sun angle but won’t hit high to very high for a couple more weeks.  Finally, the dry nature of the air can be a sneaky dehydrator for the body, so keeping water handy is encouraged for all ages.  This dry air should deliver another rain-free day Wednesday even under increasing clouds, then a few showers enter the New England scene Wednesday night, with a few jet stream level disturbances overhead Thursday all touching off rounds of showers, and eventually dragging a surface cold front through New England Thursday evening with rain that will break for drier, slightly cooler air that likely shunts Friday showers south of New England but also makes their return Saturday a bit tricky. LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA_2 (7) LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA_2 (7)  Right now, it appears we’ll have enough cool air Saturday for returning rain to instead fall as snow from the Berkshires to near the northern MA border points north, with accumulating snow of three to six inches a possibility for the mountains and Lakes Region Saturday afternoon and night!  The finer points will become clear as we get closer, but it’s likely the rain/snow line will ride northward during Saturday evening and night, then the precipitation should cut out Sunday for most, making Sunday the better of the two weekend days.  Thereafter, the early call on next week in our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast is to keep temperatures very close to normal for the final days of March with occasional showers later Monday into early Tuesday.

Spring Air Takes Hold of New England on the Vernal Equinox

LKS_SPRING_EQUINOX (1) LKS_SPRING_EQUINOX (1) LKS_SPRING_EQUINOX (1)The Vernal Equinox marks the beginning of astronomical spring, and happens today.  While meteorologists consider the spring season to run from the start of March to the end of May based on average temperatures, astronomical spring relates to the sun – on the equinox, the sun is directly above the equator on its trek to its northernmost point with longest daylight in the Northern Hemisphere on the Summer Solstice in June.  On this day of the Vernal Equinox, we’ve already crossed the 12 hour daylight threshold this past weekend, but today the sun rises due east and sets due west – it won’t do that again until the start of astronomical autumn.  Ever heard about how you can balance an egg on the spring equinox?  It’s true!  Just no more true than any other day – that’s an old “wives tale” and there’s no greater chance to make that feat happen on the equinox than any other day.  As for the weather, abundant dry air from a huge dome of high pressure over the Eastern two-thirds of the U.S. will keep lots of sunshine in the forecast Monday and Tuesday, though the dry air does have some other consequences, particularly when combined with a busy breeze from the southwest on Monday.  In areas where there is no snow, last year’s dead brush and vegetation dries out for an increased brush fire danger, particularly true in Southeast and far Southern New England, while pollen counts due to juniper and poplar are rising.  The dry air also will help to slowly dehydrate the body, making a water bottle a smart accessory for adults and kids alike through the first half of the week, while temperatures rise into the 50s for many Monday, and 55-60° in Southern New England Tuesday.  Clouds will increase Wednesday as a disturbance moving east out of the Great Lakes approaches New England and picks up just enough moisture to deliver a few showers Wednesday night, with a follow-up disturbance bringing renewed showers and a cold front Thursday.  That cold front may deliver just enough dry air to lower the shower chance Friday, but a stronger storm system carrying Gulf of Mexico moisture will head into the Northeast on Saturday, bringing rain into the forecast and encountering enough lingering cold air on the front side of the storm to deliver a combination of rain and snow to New England – it’s early to estimate where the rain/snow line will start, but may be as far south as Northern MA depending on how things come together, but more likely will be somewhere from the Berkshires to Central or Southern NH. Some lingering showers are possible Sunday but the vast majority of the precipitation should be over by then, and a pattern favoring an increased chance of showers lasts into early next week, with a weak Bermuda high pressure dome trying to feed warmth north while Canadian cold isn’t ready to give up, so showers develop along the clash of air near New England.

Steady But Gradual Melting Sets Into Most of New England

LKS_SNOW_SPECIFIC_NEWENG_ACTIVE (27)New England is entering a stretch of steady but relatively gradual melting in the days ahead.  For all intents and purposes, the weather will remain rather benign, though it’s still active aloft with a series of disturbances that will mostly remain starved of moisture, limiting how much precipitation each disturbance will produce in New England.  For now, sun that started Thursday will slowly fade as clouds increase ahead of one jet stream level disturbance aiding in the transport of milder air toward the Northeast from the Midwest.  A sprinkle is possible late Thursday into Thursday evening, then clouds will break for many overnight Thursday night, only briefly before new clouds return early Friday morning.  The next disturbance crossing New England’s sky Friday will represent another shot of slightly milder air that will deliver an isolated shower with temperatures reaching near and over 50° by afternoon in Southern New England, while a light wintry mix falls periodically through the day in Northern New England, mostly melting upon contact on treated roads but accumulating one to three inches in the far northern mountains of New Hampshire and through Central to Northern Maine.  A cold front attendant to the same disturbance arrives overnight Friday night, sparking new, scattered showers Friday evening through night with a few of those showers likely to linger into early morning in Southeast Massachusetts before clearing the coast by mid-morning.  Although a new flow of cooler and drier air will break out the sunshine Saturday with an increasing fresh breeze, colder air lags behind just a bit, so temperatures should still reach the 40s to around 50° Saturday afternoon.  By Saturday night, the colder air will be more perceptible as lows drop to the 20s regionwide and fail to recover past 40° Sunday afternoon.  Although sun and bubbling, puffy clouds will mix in the cold sky Sunday – very likely to drop snow showers across the mountainous terrain – the pretty sky won’t be accompanied by a pleasant feeling, as a busy northwest wind gusting at times to 40 mph may cause a few chairlift holds for a brief time in Northern New England, but moreover, will hold warmest wind chill values of the day to no better than 30°.  A quick recovery is expected next week, with our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast showing high temperatures of 45-50° on most days – near or slightly above normal for this time of the year – with one storm likely missing to the south of New England Wednesday but a better chance of rain showers when a follow-up storm tracks into New England at the end of next week and perhaps into the start of next weekend, though precise timing is impossible to discern from this far out.

Why Have Some Storms This Winter Proven to Be Well Forecast for Some, Worse for Others?

LKS_MATTS_MEMO (56)As Posted on my Facebook Page:  I always use my Morning Memo on the NBC10 Boston and early NECN morning show from 4-7 AM to boil down the message of the day and there's no question: this recent storm was epic and historic for some, and a dud for others. The feedback from you has been commensurate with that: from snow removal crews, to parents of kids whose routines are impacted, to business owners whose livelihoods depend on planning around the weather: rave reviews in some spots to incredible frustration in others. LKS_BOARD_SNOW_TOTALS_NEWENG (3)
I've heard from some of you asking, understandably, HOW weather forecasts can still be so wrong for some areas, yet so right in others, in modern times. As a regular guy, and as a meteorologist, I not only understand that but I echo it. When we stop and think about the industry-wide broad swing and miss for some areas on more than one storm this season, versus excellent forecasts for others, we realize there must be some systemic issue. Here's the insight:
Some harken back to a day, decades ago, when forecasts were better without the technology. That is waxing nostalgic, anecdotal and provable as factually incorrect...we have simply, as a community, raised our expectations accordingly to improvements over the decades. However...this winter *absolutely* has demonstrated on more than one occasion that the science of meteorology has much work to be done - research, technology and application - on understanding the delicate and critically important interaction of near-surface temperatures, solar radiation, ground temperatures and precipitation intensity on snowfall accumulation. When looking at the incredible difference in amounts over small areas with some of these storms...and the incredible lack of snow for some vs. prediction...we just haven't reached that level of accuracy in these particular, marginal temperature cases yet. It's been my personal mission to develop our NBC10 Boston and NECN Forecast System to be more accurate than anything else...but in a case like yesterday's storm, forecasts fell victim to the issues experienced across the board with the tremendous variance in amounts for some and drop in amounts to the south and east. So...the work goes on - these events will be studied in-depth over the months and years ahead in an attempt to correct and make better predictions...but it often does take years.
LKS_BOARD_SNOW_TOTALS_BOSDMA2If you find yourself frustrated (as I certainly am at times), the best I can say is continue supporting STEM education of our kids and scientific research at the private, University and Government level, as the real meteorology that goes into prediction and enhancing predictive tools is very much math and science based, and will be the key to continued advancement in the decades ahead.
In the meantime, I continue to be committed to delivering the best forecast possible, day in and day out and look forward to the next challenge.

Details on Expected Strong Storm Nearby Next Week: Monday Night Through Tuesday

LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA-77This is something for those of you who enjoy the in-depth science of forecasting weather from several days out re: Tuesday storm. If you are a "just give me the forecast" person, you can probably scroll along. If you love science, here you go...

You will, today & in coming days, see predictions of varying Tuesday storm tracks & impacts. From this far out, no exact solution will be right - much of it is for your entertainment. That said, there are some things we can tease out of guidance that offers insight...each image included is in the right order to correspond with each snippet below.

Jet stream pattern features a strong jet streak (area of faster wind) moving across Southeast US. The area over the waters off the Mid-Atlantic are in a broadly "diffluent" zone - where air tends to separate aloft, encouraging surface air to rise, creating low surface pressure.

Coincident with jet stream diffluence aloft is strong atmospheric energy (represented by spin, referred to as "vorticity" in meteorology), depicted here in green and yellow. Most favorable storm development zone is ahead of where energy is moving, near Southern New England coast.

Putting the upper level pattern together, this favors a storm tracking near or over South Coast while intensifying Mon night into Tue. The meteorological excitement comes because the storm should strengthen readily, currently predicted to reach a rather low barometric pressure.

On its face, the setup would favor a major snowstorm somewhere in New England - but not necessarily Boston. In fact, one huge missing component is a strong high pressure ("anticyclone") pumping in cold air. This begs for storm center itself to carry warmth with it.

Our NBC Forecast System should not be taken verbatim so many days out - nothing should! But...it does help to quickly/easily see what area would be most at risk for heavy snow based on current predictions. Please note "edges" of snow amounts often aren't sharp enough this far out.

What seems certain is the storm will be moisture-loaded and deliver heavy precipitation, whether it be rain or snow at your house. Again, not to be taken verbatim but a good "early guess," our NBC Forecast System cranks out over 2" of liquid equivalent with this storm.

Wind will be a significant factor for this storm. Many should see winds ramp up Monday night as the storm strengthens/approaches. But you need to know where exactly it's going to nail down where worst wind ends up lashing Tuesday. Don't know that yet.

Now you know all the info I believe is reliable from this far out. I figure worth getting ahead of this before maps of feet of snow somewhere between Buffalo & Nantucket start flying LOL. I would expect finer details and steadier solutions will begin Sunday. Have a great weekend.

A Relatively Quiet Week of New England Weather; Weekend Storm Potential

LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA (74) LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA (74)Overall, New England has a relatively quiet week of weather ahead.  The biggest player in the region’s weather over the coming several days is a large, powerful, swirling storm over Atlantic Canada that has been the receptacle for many energetic disturbances over the past several days, including our early weekend snow, all contributing to the size and breadth of the storm over Canada.  With a counter-clockwise flow of air around that storm, this encourages a brisk northerly breeze for New England for days on end, and will increase the propensity for clouds in New England after Monday’s mostly sunny sky.  After Monday highs in the 40s – pushing 50° in a few spots – with a northwest breeze gusting to 35-40 mph at times, creating a wind chill factor in the 30s, areas of melting on roads will turn from road spray and glare to refrozen black ice patches overnight when temperatures drop to the 20s. Nonetheless, a full reservoir of windshield washer fluid and sunglasses at the ready will make a good complement for any traveler in the days ahead.  Admittedly, those sunglasses will get less use Tuesday through Thursday as only breaks of sun are expected between lots of bubbling clouds on the backside of the big Canadian storm, with a nippy wind chill held in the 20s Tuesday and 30s Wednesday and Thursday at the warmest time of each day.  The building clouds will likely yield scattered snow showers in Northern New England each day, while Central and Southern New England will find raindrops and snowflakes limited to within about 40 miles of the coast on any given day, though more concentrated mixed showers are possible on Cape Cod Tuesday evening through Thursday, owing to the cool, northerly wind over the ocean water, gathering moisture along the way and providing just enough temperature contrast from ocean water temperature to air aloft for clouds to gain some enhancement.  As a large dome of high pressure muscles in Friday, the big storm east of New England is ushered away and more sunshine returns, though the next storm will already be moving east across the Great Lakes.  This coming weekend, that energy arrives to the Northeast and appears nearly certain to reposition around a developing storm center off the New England coast Saturday into Sunday, but questions linger as to how this repositioning evolves: a fast hand-off of energy to the newly developing storm would mean a quicker moving storm that leaves New England in relatively light accumulating snow mixed with rain as we would be positioned between the old and new storm.  A slower hand-off of energy to the coast and closer-in development of the new storm would raise the stakes for a more substantial storm of rain and snow.  For the timebeing, our Weather Team holds off on placing a First Alert on the weekend, as we usually issue such alerts when impact is likely – in this case, a lighter precipitation wouldn’t have high impact and that’s still just as likely as a big storm.  Of course, we’ll keep you posted!

Friday Night to Saturday Wintry Mix May Deliver Blizzard Conditions to Maine Coast

LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53) LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53) LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53) LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53) LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53) LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53) LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53) LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53) LKS_MATTS_MEMO (53)It’s hard to believe snow is on the way given how our Friday is unfolding in New England – and for some, it won’t be much snow that falls, but for others, nature will pull a rabbit out of a hat for over half a foot of snow.  Of course, it’s not magic – in this case, it’s dry air: when air is dry – measured as low dew point temperatures in meteorology – it can cool effectively at night, or when moisture is added.  Friday night, we’ll do both – moisture will advance into New England during the overnight, cooling temperatures from daytime highs around and just over 40° to either side of freezing.  At first, a couple of degrees either side of freezing won’t make a huge difference and a combination of rain and snow developing from southwest to northeast across Southern New England between 8 PM and Midnight will swing to snow at least briefly in most spots, excepting perhaps the immediate South Coast.  Snow will quickly change to rain for extreme Southern New England and the immediate South Shore of MA with a slowly strengthening east and southeast wind off the ocean, but a burst of a couple inches of accumulation is likely just inland from the coast.  The farther inland one is, the colder temperatures will be and the more snow that will fall before sleet and rain mix in, with spots like North-Central MA to the Berkshires points northward seeing mostly snow and picking up over half a foot of snow – our First Alert Team believes even the Route 495 belt northwest of Boston may approach or exceed half of foot of snow, with only about 15 miles separating a forecast of 2”-4” along the North Shore from 6”-8” in the Merrimack Valley!  Of course, with temperatures so marginal and such tight margins, our team is preparing viewers for a possible surprise either way if that rain/snow line jogs one way or the other, but our forecast is always what we believe to be the most likely scenario.  Wind gusts will increase from the east and northeast Saturday, topping 40 mph along the coast from mid-morning through mid-afternoon, with Cape Cod exceeding 50 mph by afternoon!  With a change to rain in coastal communities, widespread power outages aren’t expected from this wind, but isolated outages will result.  Coastal Maine is a different situation – strong gusts will combine with heavy snow for near-blizzard conditions Saturday morning to midday, making travel disorienting.  By Saturday afternoon, gusty wind will continue at the coast but the worst will have passed and precipitation will steadily taper, ending last in Maine Saturday evening.  Sunday looks far quieter with clouds and sun yielding a few afternoon snow showers in the mountains and flurries elsewhere, previewing a bright and quiet day Monday.  Next week, our exclusive First Alert forecast delivers two disturbances – one with rain and snow showers Tuesday and another Friday into Saturday that may prove to be more organized.

Snow Set for Friday Night to a Mix Saturday

LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA (73) LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA (73) LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA (73) LKS_FRONTS_BOSDMA (73) LKS_SNOW_RANGE_NEWENG_ACTIVE_2 (14)Thursday morning’s rain associated with a fast-moving disturbance fell as freezing rain in parts of Central New England and snow in Northern New England, where two to four fresh inches fell in the mountains of Ski Country.  While snow and mix continues through much of the day in Central and Eastern Maine, the bulk of New England sees a dry afternoon with breaks of sun emerging through the clouds during the late day as a clearing trend ensues Thursday night. The clearing is a product of drier and colder air draining south on a northwest breeze, dropping overnight temperatures into the 20s for most.  Friday dawns with some sun but clouds increase during the day as our next, much advertised storm system draws closer.  This is the same atmospheric energy that dropped snow on the Desert Southwest Wednesday and Thursday, helping Flagstaff, Arizona, set their snowiest season to date, and as the storm moves east into the Upper Ohio Valley, it will translate its energy to the East Coast, where a new storm will develop just south of Long Island Friday evening.  This transfer of energy and newly developing storm help to thrust moisture into New England from southwest to northeast Friday evening and night, with seasonable temperatures near 40° during the day falling at night for widespread snow.  The overnight burst of snow will drop a quick 3” to 6” for much of New England by dawn Saturday, though there will be some exceptions: along the South Coast of RI and MA, warmer air off the ocean will change snow to rain after only a coating to 2” of snow, though more may fall at the South Coast of CT; snow will develop later and therefore not add up to as much by dawn Saturday in northeast New England, but the snow will fall for a longer time Saturday; and…the deep interior of Southern New England will still see accumulating snow even after crossing the 6” threshold early Saturday morning.  This time of the year, the sun angle is equally strong to that of October, meaning in the absence of very cold air, treated roads often see daytime improvement, even as snow falls, and accumulation rates drop dramatically.  For this reason, our First Alert Team believes even as snow and mix continues to fall periodically throughout Saturday, additional accumulation will be limited except for in VT, NH and ME, where colder air hangs on and snow can continue to accumulate.  At the coast, a gusty east wind will top 40 mph at times Saturday morning, perhaps even over 50 mph briefly on Cape Cod for a windswept rain before both precipitation and wind die down later Saturday.  Sunday will be quieter, with clouds filling the sky at times and a few snow showers.  Next week our exclusive First Alert 10-day forecast looks like a first week of March should: seasonable temperatures and a disturbance bringing rain or snow showers Tuesday, then again Friday into Saturday, with exact timing TBD.

Weak System Wednesday Night Into Thursday Brings Snow For Some, More Widespread Snow Friday Night

LKS_SNOW_SPECIFIC_NEWENG_ACTIVE (23) LKS_SNOW_SPECIFIC_NEWENG_ACTIVE (23) LKS_SNOW_SPECIFIC_NEWENG_ACTIVE (23)As sunshine fades Wednesday afternoon behind increasing clouds, the next weather system approaches New England, caught in the jet stream winds aloft, moving east out of the Great Lakes. The clouds eventually deliver mixed snow and rain showers to southern New England Wednesday evening, arriving between 4 PM and 7 PM from West to East and mostly falling as snow in central and northern New England.   Coming off a relatively mild day, road temperatures will be warm enough that roads will primarily stay wet during the evening of the first part of the night Wednesday night. As colder air bleeds south overnight Wednesday night, roads will ice for Northern and Central New England and even in some of the high terrain of central and western Massachusetts for slippery spots Thursday morning. At the same time, the next disturbance arrives quickly on the heels of the first and results in renewed rain showers for much of southern New England Thursday morning… Brief freezing rain showers that change to rain from the Worcester Hills to Central New England… And more snow falling Thursday morning in Northern New England. When all is said and done Thursday midday, 2 to 4 inches of new snow will have fallen for much of the northern half of New England. Thursday afternoon brings drier air that will persist through much of Friday but that drier air is also colder in nature as it moves south from Quebec. This sets up a scenario for the next storm, a moisture-loaded one, to deliver a shot of snow Friday night, beginning 6 PM to 10 PM and lasting into Saturday. As the storm center draws closer to New England, precipitation will get heavier Friday night into Saturday morning with heavy snow at times… And enough mild air aloft for a change to sleet in some of Southern New England and warmer of the ocean changing us to rain near the coast after a round of accumulating snow. Right now, it looks like 6 inches or more of snow are possible near and north of the Massachusetts turnpike and with a gusty wind in the early hours of Saturday morning blowing snow is a real possibility, especially in eastern New England before a changeover to mixed precipitation takes place. The intensity of the storm will slowly wane over the course of Saturday and Sunday looks like a better day though a few snow showers may still pop up. Next week, the early call is for classic March weather with a couple of weak disturbances but no major storms apparent at this early juncture.

Monday Night and Tuesday Snow Will Cause Snowy Tuesday Morning Commute

V_LKS_NBCU_PTYPE_NEWENG (13) V_LKS_NBCU_PTYPE_NEWENG (13) V_LKS_NBCU_PTYPE_NEWENG (13) V_LKS_NBCU_PTYPE_NEWENG (13) V_LKS_NBCU_PTYPE_NEWENG (13) V_LKS_NBCU_PTYPE_NEWENG (13)Sunshine fades behind increasing clouds Monday but cold air is well in place as high temperatures struggle to get to the mid 30s even in the warmer spots of southern New England. Unlike previous storms, the approaching storm today will be coming into plenty of cold air so it really is not a question of rain or snow… Snow will fly region wide with this one. Clouds thicken Monday afternoon with first precipitation developing during the early evening at the extreme western border of New England but for most of us expanding between 10 PM and midnight. Northeastern New England will be on a slightly slower timeframe with snow arriving to Southern Maine during the predawn hours. Snow will fall heaviest between 5 AM Tuesday and 10 AM… But will continue to fall periodically throughout the course of the entire day. Forecast snow amounts vary… From two or 3 inches in Southeastern mass, and perhaps a bit less on the Cape, to as much as an 8 inch average in Western New England with Summit amounts in the Berkshires to southern Green mountains that may total 10 to 12 inches. For most of us… We land in between, expected to receive somewhere between four and 8 inches of snow with highest amounts found in hilly terrain and through the interior. Tuesday snow is expected to gradually taper during the evening but road conditions very well may improve for a number of spots earlier in the day, during the afternoon, with what is now October sun strength coupled with temperatures that will be rising to near the melting point, increasing the effectiveness of road chemical treatments. A new disturbance is in the forecast for late Wednesday into early Thursday morning but comes with milder ear so after mixed showers temperatures are expected to rise to as warm as 50° Thursday afternoon! Nonetheless… When the next larger storm comes calling late Friday into Saturday there are indications enough cold air will have returned to set the stage for accumulating snow for many of us, with our exclusive NBC forecast system boasting an early prediction of around a foot of snow in Central and Northern New England...but it's early, our First Alert team will keep you posted.