A Damp Friday, Arctic Cold on the Way

By: Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher
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Eric Fisher on Mt. Washington. (WBZ-TV)

Eric Fisher on Mt. Washington. (WBZ-TV)

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Wind makes all the difference this time of year, and the lack of it today made for a pretty comfortable November afternoon. Highs in the upper 40s are perfectly average for the date, and brilliant sunshine doesn’t hurt, either! But changes are coming, as you might expect here in New England.

The first change we’re watching is the chance for rain, which will be increasing throughout the overnight. A weak warm front is stretching eastward, which was the culprit for those increasing clouds we saw around sunset. As of 9pm some radar echoes were showing up across parts of VT, NH, and MA – but none of it was reaching the ground. Dewpoints are still in the 10s and low 20s, and so the dry air at the surface is helping that rain evaporate on the way down. Once we pass midnight, the chance of some of those drops reaching the ground will increase. And in parts of northern New England, it may fall as freezing drizzle. If your travels take you in that direction, be very careful walking/driving around.

Locally, we should stay at or above freezing tonight, and so any frozen precipitation seems unlikely. Above-freezing air is moving in aloft, too, which helps to decrease any snowflake chances. A batch of light to moderate rain is expected to cross the area between 6am and 2pm, so roads should be wet for the am commute. In general, a tough morning to get out of bed, and I’d plan for a few extra minutes to get to work. It’ll be a chilly rain at that, with temperatures in the 30s during the morning.

By mid-afternoon the last of the showers should be heading offshore, and the evening looks dry but gray with temperatures in the mid 40s. A cold front will cut across New England Friday night, and should be clearing the coastline by Saturday morning. We’ll live in a little slice of ‘cool but not cold yet’ air on Saturday, so I’m expecting a seasonable day with highs in the upper 40s and a frisky northwest breeze.

The big-time Arctic front will arrive Saturday night, and behind it will come the coldest air since February. If we stay below freezing all day on Sunday in Boston, it will be for the first time since the day after our monster February blizzard. Many towns will stay in the 20s all day Sunday, and the strong NW wind gusts will make it feel more like the teens and single digits. Brutal! Snow showers will also be possible, particularly along NW facing hills and Cape Cod. Absolutely frigid weather in Foxboro for the big Patriots SNF game, so bring extra layers out to the stadium.

As for next week, I haven’t really changed any thoughts from last night (you can read last night’s full blog here). The ECMWF camp still predicts a faster moving storm, arriving by Wednesday morning, moving so close to the coast that all we get is a big soaking of rain while interior snow falls across PA/NY/VT. The GFS camp consistently has put this storm out to sea, although the ensemble mean has shifted a bit back toward the coast today. It’s also slower, not reaching our vicinity until a good 24-36 hours later. In fact, the difference between the ECMWF and GFS storm centers on Thanksgiving morning is 1,200 miles! That’s an absurdly large spread which rarely happens 6 days out. The GEM is between the two, just close enough to graze SNE with snow.

In short, there’s extremely low confidence on what this storm is going to do. The only thing that I’m truly confident in is that it will soak the Gulf Coast, and that it will be quite chilly here all next week. The event is still almost a week away, so we’ve got plenty of time to watch and wish this thing out to sea, since there aren’t many folks who want to hear about a big East Coast storm on one of the busiest days of the year!

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