Cloudy Cool Weekend…Looking For Winter Warmth

By Meteorologist Joe Joyce, WBZ-TV

Clouds are on the increase ahead of  a cold front which will push through New York then New England by the end of the day. Winds will pick up out of the SW ahead of this front with gusts to 30 mph. After a cool start, highs will climb into the mid-upper 30’s with the Cape edging near 40 this afternoon.

We are going to see a series of disturbances tracking out of Canada thanks to the NW flow aloft and trough in place across the Northeast. These weak fronts will periodically trigger snow showers and flurries. The best chance  for steadier snow showers remains in northern New England through the weekend into Monday night. Accumulating snowfall in the Northern mountains could exceed 6″ for ski country.

So let’s start with the first batch. We are tracking snow showers in New York state and PA. These will spread into New England this afternoon and weaken as the go over the hilly terrain.  The Greens, Monadnock, Berkshires and Litchfield hills have could see a brief coating of snow in a brief band of passing snow showers from midday into the mid afternoon. Not much more than a few flurries once east of Worcester.

Skies will quickly clear behind the front with a lows falling into the single digits and teens. Clouds will quickly advance by dawn Sunday ahead of a warm front. This front will come with just enough lift and moisture to trigger a few more passing snow showers or flurries into the midday and early afternoon. Again the best chance will be along and North of the MA Pike. An additional coating to 1″ of snow will be possible in the NW hills. Sunday will be another cloudy but cooler day in the lwr-mid 30’s

The last piece of energy in this parade of pulse snow showers will be the most impressive. This will be a clipper Low diving from Canada through the Great Lakes which will eventually track through Northern New England. As the warm front pushes through milder sw winds will develop as this low approaches. Valentine’s day will be fairly mild with some areas in southern New England climbing to 40-45 degrees with mixed skies. Again the best lift will be across the north who will have the best chance of accumulating snow showers…primarily in the mountains.

Behind this low cold gusty winds out of the NW will usher in one more shot of Cold air for Tuesday as highs will remain in the 20’s. Building high from Canada will make for sun-filled skies from Tuesday into the weekend. A nice storm free stretch of weather! Now what about the warmth?

Once the trough lifts out of the northeast, the upper level ridge will shift east. High pressure off the coast will wrap in warming SW winds. Warm air from the southern states will shift east and then northeast and finally arrive here Thursday, Friday and may even last into Saturday before a cold front will put an abrupt end to the thaw and return temps to more seasonal levels. Temps will climb into the 40’s to near 50. If Saturday’s front slows just a bit this could allow the warmth to come even further north and bring us into the 50’s to end the week by Friday. We will have to for that. It’s a quick burst of warmth..too short!

Looking further down the road…the ridge tries to re-establish itself…by the 21st….but the polar jet will not be denied.  A general flat zonal flow will be in place for the week of the 21st through the 25th of Feb which will keep storms at a minimum and much of the nation happy in milder air. Unfortuantely, we may be on the outside looking in.  We will be close enough to the cool to prevent any more big warm ups, yet close enough to the warmth that We may find a stationary front sitting south of New England separating the two airmasses…we will likely be on the colder side of the front. The trough and Colder air will make it’s return back to the Northeast and New England by February 26th..and likely a return to the fun and games heading into March. This time of year you have to take what you can get. I guess beggars can’t be choosers.

  • Kent

    Joe now that you are calling for big storms too start march do you think we will get warm again after that?

  • Doane

    Joe, I agree.. looks like a repeat (maybe worse) March from last year. With the heavy snows making the rivers and water tables high and the footplus of rain we’re getting in March the flooding will be impressive and worth watching

  • Eric B

    Thanks, Joe, for an informative blog. Now that we’re on a break between big storms, I wonder whether the WBZ mets and other folks here could provide some insights on the different ways this massive snowpack will disappear in the coming weeks. I have some ideas about this (below), but also several questions. As a weather lover, I think it would be great to learn the answers just for the fun of knowing. But as one of many homeowners whose basement flooded last March, this topic also has practical interest for me.

    As I see it, there are many factors to can go into losing our snowpack and the inches of water it contains.

    Air temperature: This one seems pretty obvious: Higher temperatures – especially when there’s no refreezing at night – mean more melting.

    Rainfall: Rainfall, particularly when accompanied by temperatures in the 40s or higher, would likely aid in melting and increase the density of the remaining snowpack. I’m thinking that cold rain (with temperatures near freezing) might not do much actual melting of a major snowpack, though it would reduce the volume.

    Sunshine (both hours of sunshine and intensity): Sunshine heats up the air and ground, in particular, dark-colored surfaces. As we’ve seen in the past week, snow and ice can melt substantially on and near dark pavement even on days when the air temp stays below freezing. As the days lengthen and the sunlight intensity gets stronger, this is likely to reduce the snowpack to an ever-greater degree. For example, after the 1997 April Fool’s snowstorm, over 2 feet of snow disappeared in less than a week.

    Sand, dust, and grime: This gunk, which is common along the side of streets, is darker in color and absorbs light/heat better than pristine, white snow. This accelerates melting there, especially during sunny periods. Likewise, leftover salt also enhances melting.

    The consistency of the snowpack: From what I’ve observed, it seems to be more difficult to melt very compressed, icy snow than it is a much higher volume of fluffy snow that contains equal water content. I’m not sure if this is actually true, but if it is, it could affect how fast our increasingly dense snowpack melts. Anybody know the answer?

    Wind: When it’s not raining or snowing, I’d guess that windy weather would aid in reducing the snowpack through evaporation (sublimation) more so than calm air at the same temperature would. Wind might also prevent a relatively dense, cold layer of air from pooling just above the surface of the snowpack at night.

    Humidity: I’m not sure what effect this has. On the one hand, I’ve heard of dry, thermal winds (chinooks) that can ‘eat away’ snow through melting and sublimation. So it seems to me that low relatively humidity might be favorable for reducing the snowpack, because the air has the capacity to readily absorb any evaporated moisture. On the other hand, when it’s comparatively warm and humid, the moisture in the air contains latent heat. Could that latent heat accelerate melting? Or is low humidity more conducive to melting/sublimation? Also, when the air is moist, could condensation of moisture onto the snow surface add to the total water content of the snowpack?

    Factors that will affect runoff: I’m thinking that the temperature of the frozen ground and the penetration of cold beneath the surface could have a big effect on what happens to any melt water, especially the sudden release of snow melt from a mild, heavy rain. It may seem hard to believe now, but before December 26, the ground in areas near Boston had been largely snow-free. Since December had many nights in the 20s (and even a few teens), this might have allowed the cold to penetrate to some depth beneath the ground surface. The insulation provided by our nearly continuous snow cover during the past 7 weeks has probably kept that frozen ground from thawing, and if anything, the freeze might even have spread a little deeper.

    So I’m thinking that the water from any big runoff rainfall/melt event won’t get absorbed well by the frozen ground. Where would it go? Downslope into creeks and rivers, with ponding in any low-lying areas, including our yards and possibly basements. Or would the frozen ground actually help prevent saturation of soil and water seepage into basements?

    I know this has been a long entry, but I’m hoping the questions raised will stimulate discussion, and will give weather watchers and homeowners some things to look for in the forecasts during the weeks ahead.

  • Chris 72

    I didn’t see him indicating we are getting big storms in March. He indicated things could get interesting. Besides once you head into March the sun is at a higher angle so even if you get snow it is tougher to stick and it melts faster. A 6 inch snowstorm is easier to handle in March than early January

  • JimmyJames

    Kent look at long range forecasts as POTENTIAL. As I have blogged a few times this week were not done with the snow but I don’t see us having a snow event to the magnitude of the post Christmas blizzard.
    In my winter outlook back in November I said the second wave of winter would end in early March and I am sticking with that. I am happy I was off with the snowfall since I am huge snow lover and this winter delievered a lot more than I expected.

  • Hadi

    Thanks Joe!!

    Below is current snow depth.

    • shotime

      Good Morning, Hadi! Thanks for the link… great map!

  • Topkatt88

    I think we’re going to melt most of the snowpack during the next 3 weeks only to get whacked 1 or possibly 2 more times between the last week of February & mid March. After the zonal period, the meridional period will return with conditions not that far removed from those in place previously. Leaves the door open for high-impact storms at the end of the season. Not that I’m wishing for such events, I just feel they remain possible late into the snow season this time.

    • southshoretom

      absolutely……….something like 64F one day, snowing by nightfall the next day……like the idea below……..some mall parking lot in the region is going to have a snowpile last past May 1st.

      • Topkatt88

        I’m guessing around Memorial Day for some, even early June if we end up with any more plowable snow events (and we will).

  • Topkatt88

    I think WBZ should run a contest for the date the last snow pile is completely gone from their parking lot, but only if they show us a picture of the largest snow mound first.

    • shotime

      Great idea, Topkatt!!! I’d be game for a fun blog contest :) Hopefully, the ‘BZ mets are game for the idea, too!

  • Kent

    Now that most people including joe and topkat are calling for more big storms to end the year do you think we might have an ice storm? can joe or topkat anawer this as soon as possible as i am getting ready to go out for the day

    • Topkatt88

      Not being specific, just leaving the door open, because I think the pattern will support it. We’ll see how it goes of course. I just don’t think we’ll have a snowless March like we did last year. Of course I think people would take a couple March snows (provided they are not violent storms) versus the epic flooding events of March 2010. There’s still damage in west Woburn from those floods that has not been repaired yet.

    • pinnacle06

      I recall someone predicting big snow at the end of last years season as well ;-) and sticking with it untill about july 4th… i kiiiid i kiiiiiid

      • Topkatt88

        July 4th! Good one! :-)
        Yes yes, I know very well how bad the end of my winter outlook went last season. But I think some people would have traded some of the March rains for a couple of slowly-melting snowstorms instead.

  • Scott

    Thanks Joe
    after we get through this thaw, probably by next weekend, things should get interesting. with that front south of us dividing the warm and cold will help create large storms. and if we are in the cold sector, with a juicy storm on our door step, we will get whacked.

    • shotime

      Scott, The good news of a thaw before any future snowstorms is that there will be room to pile any new snow! The upcoming warm-up should also help in preventing significant spring flooding. As a matter of fact, wouldn’t the best case scenerio be a pattern of mini warm-up’s to continue in order to prevent a rapid “melt-down”?

      • JimmyJames

        Hey Shotime… I was been talking about the meltodwn of the snowpack and we want to see a gradual melting of the snow without a big rain storm. From the looks of that we are not going to have a big rain storm. The worst of winter is behind us and while I still think we get snow I don’t think were going to see any snow events that will be one for the record books.

      • Scott

        more room will be make shoveling easier :)

  • GiveitupKent

    Listen up everyone – Kent is calling for a massive Ice Storm to hit New England! : )

  • Hadi

    Thanks for your thoughts Andy!! I did not know I wad such an idiot:))

    • shotime

      Hadi, best to ignore. I know that’s hard to do when someone is personally attacking you! Just hit Report Comment! You’ll be surprised how fast they dissapear from the blog!!!

  • Willy13

    Just do not see a return to January conditions with the teleconnections the way they are now and forecasted. Not the same setup at all and different time of year to boot…….worst of winter looks over to me…..

    • Topkatt88

      I do agree the worst is most likely behind us. We’re beyond the coldest days and the relentless storms most likely. Just not ruling out a couple more significant hits. Climatologically, it’s too early to discount it, even with teleconnections. All it takes is an index flip flop of 1 or 2 days, and those forecasts are not always right on.

      March/April 2010 was an anomaly.

      • David White

        Tokatt88. Isn’t the NAO full of surprises? CPC maintains it makes New England harder to make long range forecasting because of NAO, and yet they stick their necks out with fifteen day projections, whereas the only reliability or close to it may lie in the five day projections. So is the NAO nortorious for flipflopping from negative to a quick positive, than back to a longer negative? Thus the brief winter warm ups?

  • Tipsy


    • carl

      You most certainly must be tipsy.

  • hopeimwrong

    the way i see it I F and that is a BIG IF we have a gradual warm up
    and no major rain storms there should be no major flooding .
    help me out here folks

    • JimmyJames

      Hey HopeImWrong… As I have said earlier we want a gradual meltdown of the snowpack with no big rain stoms so there won’t be major flooding problems. It does not look like a big rain storm is coming next week.

      • hopeimwrong

        JJ , i agree with you . quick question , how much
        more snow do you think we will get, I am a landscaper
        who also does plowing and i would like some idea of when
        to convert my equipment from winter to spring and summer
        functions thanks

  • smack

    We still have a very deep snow pack, most of which is dense and icy, so my guess is that it will not go quickly unless we get very mild temps both daytime and night and if we do not add to this in the next few weeks I would guess it would be mid-March before it is gone (those humongous pies will last a lot longer!) Looking for a gradual warming and slow melting to avoid basement disasters…and no rain. Still, it’s only mid-Feb so I think we are not done with the snow yet, however, can anyone foresee anymore 15 inch snowstorms coming? I am reluctant to say they are over given what has happened this winter.

    • Topkatt88

      Wouldn’t rule a couple more major ones out.

      One thing to keep in mind in terms of the snowpack, regardless of whether it’s an icy or fluffy pack, very dry air can simple evaporate some of the ice directly to water vapor which then of course rises and drifts away. So we can get rid of several inches of this snowpack without even melting it. It just “goes away”.

  • JimmyJames

    HopeImWrong thats a tough call how much more snow we will get. We will get more snow but I think were through with snowstorms that will produce widespread double digit snowfall totals.
    As I said in my winter outlook back in November I thought we would have two waves of winter and the second one would last through early March and I am sticking with it. The thaw came later than I thought and does not look to be as prolonged one like I thought it we would have.

    • hopeimwrong

      thanks jimmy , always enjoy your input and what you have to say

  • Topkatt88

    David White… Correct. But I don’t think you’ll see the 15-day forecasts ever go away. We have to do them daily for the energy industry. Not an easy task.

    • David White

      Thanks Topkatt. When you say “we have to do them daily’ do you put input into CPC’s outlooks?

  • manowx

    I’d be very surprised that the east coast gets a very troughy storm ( embbeded in a highly meridional flow. ) In fact our last one-two punch was embedded in a rather zonal flow. These can still lay down a moderate blanket of snow given enough cold air. The big difference between Jan 2011 and Jan 1966 is that it seems the storms were not as vigorous at lower latitudes. For example on Jan 31 1966 a storm lashed the entire east coast 166 fatalities.

  • southshoretom

    just peaked at the 12z GFS…(I know….its the GFS)…anyway, on or around the 21st, it seems to have a storm around the Newfoundland area, that comes to a complete halt or even moves a bit towards the NW (Davis Straits). Looks like it hits a ridge and is suggesting Negative NAO. Of course, the flow then seems to release a few days later….No resulting storminess in the northeast, but interesting to see if this general forecasted pattern persists.

    • Scott

      i noticed that too

  • metking

    a big positive of this pattern is gradual melting – of course that will accelerate towards the end of the week with forecast temps but by then we will have a much lower base. good to see we avoided a potential disaster -eg) a warm flooding rain


    Why did Barry say in one of his detailed blogs this week that “we will not have a repeat of the flooding rains from last March again this year”? He said it with quite a bit of confidence, but people on this blog seem to disagree.

    • joe

      I saw that too. Anyone have a clue as to why he was so confident?

      • smack

        Last March was mild, perhaps Barry sees a more wintry pattern for March which may not translate into large rainstorms for us. Just a guess, I’m not a met.

    • The Graupler

      Town received 16-20 inches of rain last March. The average is around 4 inches in March. Even if we had a super wet March and DOUBLED the average we’d still be 1/2 – 1/3 of the way towards what we saw that month… If I were a betting man and comparing March rain I’d take the under on the 16-20

  • David White

    To return to a winter pattern similar to the one we are just coming out of. Wouldn’t that mean a return to the equation of negative NAO, AO, and Positive PNA? That doesn’t seem too likely in the immediate future, although one cannot be sure of how the NAO will behave. Is the NAO in fact more “fickle” than PNA and AO?

    • Topkatt88

      It is more fickle, and I suspect it’s going negative again in the not-too-distant future.

      Or let’s put it this way, it will be negative more often than positive between now and the end of April.

      • David White

        Thanks again Topkatt. I wonder when NAO might go into a phase when it is more positive than negative? Perhaps when sunspots are at Maiximum, as they are projected to be by 2013, and/or when AMO is cool rather than its present warm status? I recall it was predominantly negative during the brief El Nino, which suggests that ENSO and possibly any Pacific conditions have llittle if any affect on it?

  • Ron

    topkat what county is lexington and woburn in? southeast middlesex or northwest middelsex?

    • Topkatt88

      Neither. I consider them both in east central. But if you divide the county into ONLY NW or SE then it’s SE.

  • ron

    well i was wondering because what county do we look in when they issue watches and warnings?

    • Topkatt88

      Looks like it’s right to me.
      That system just doesn’t always work well.

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