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A New England Classic, But With Black Ice Concerns

By: Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher
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A 'Polar Vortex' is causing Arctic air to pour into the region. (WBZ-TV)

A ‘Polar Vortex’ is causing Arctic air to pour into the region. (WBZ-TV)

WBZ-TV's Eric Fisher Eric Fisher
Eric Fisher is Chief Meteorologist for CBS Boston’s WBZ-TV News and...
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Hey folks! A heads up – after many years of being blind as a bat, I decided to get LASIK eye surgery last week. Was quite an interesting stretch. Did ~22 straight hours of live coverage, then went straight to the surgery center from my live shot while still in snow pants and ski goggles. The doctors were pretty amused. Anyhoo – my eyes are recovering on schedule but my vision is still pretty blurry. This is expected to slowly improve over the next week or two. So while I can go about my job; I can’t read prompter very well yet and am going to try to spend some time away from computers to avoid additional eye stress. These blogs may be a bit more abbreviated than usual because of that. Hopefully the world will be in focus shortly!

For tonight – black ice is the main concern. An Arctic front will bring an abrupt end to the spring-like weather we saw on Monday. Many towns will see a 50º temperature drop in less than 12 hours (50s in the afternoon, 0s by daybreak). Never a dull moment in New England. All the rain water and snow melt will be freezing up rapidly from west to east tonight. So bottom line – be very cautious of potentially hazardous travel on the streets and sidewalks. Lots of black ice could develop in short order, and there’s not much you can do to mitigate the impact of black ice. The temperatures will continue to tumble all night, settling in the 0s and 10s by daybreak Tuesday. Perhaps the only good news is that a gusty wind bringing in all that cold will also help to dry many surfaces out as we head toward Tuesday morning.

850mb temps will drop an astounding 30ºC over an 18 hour time frame, down to about -24ºC by Tuesday morning. That means are temps at the surface will go *nowhere* tomorrow, generally hovering in the single digits and 10s. I’d say get ready, but we just did this last weekend! So you know the drill. This is pipe-bursting weather, keep kids and yourselves covered up in layers weather, and keep pets from being outside for too long weather. Wind chill values will be in the 0 to -20 range pretty much from midnight tonight through Wednesday morning. Pretty nasty stuff. We’ll be well back into the 0s if not below zero Tuesday night, and stay in the 10s/20s on Wednesday. A gusty breeze will be around all day Tuesday and return on Wednesday, albeit a bit less frisky.

In terms of sky cover – a cyclonic flow aloft should create a scattered deck of clouds for late morning through early evening on Tuesday. More cloudiness can be expected across the Cape & Islands, along with some ocean-effect snow showers dusting up the ground and perhaps even accumulating to around an inch. Snow showers will be persistent across the Berkshires and southern Vermont as well. On Wednesday – skies look a little brighter and the snow potential appears to be a bit lower.

By Thursday the air mass will moderate enough to get us close to the freezing mark (which should feel delightful after the next 36 hours), and we’ll be well into the 30s for Friday. A disturbance may bring a few snow showers on Friday, but that action currently looks pretty limited.

The next storm to impact the region will be a mild one like what we just dealt with today. Rain looks likely on Saturday, and southerly winds may once again help us reach the 50s! Weird stretch of weather to be sure. So no Snow Bowl game for the Patriots Saturday night. It looks unusually mild and damp as well. Bitter cold won’t follow that storm, but another rainstorm may for Mon/Tue time frame.

And just a note on the U.S. cold – some pretty remarkable numbers out there. If you’re looking to escape it, SoCal will be your best bet. Even nearly the entire state of Florida has wind chill advisories up with this one! While many record lows may be set, it doesn’t appear that many (any?) all-time records will fall with this surge southward of the Polar Vortex. It’s the coldest outbreak in 10-30 years, depending on where you live, and is still dangerous, but not the worst we’ve seen in recent memory. The good news for many Americans is that the bitter cold will be fleeting. The main impacts are through Wednesday morning, with the cold moderating heading into the end of the week.

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