Dry Times Continue – But For How Long?

By: Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher
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Good thing we haven’t been roasted by persistent summer heat! Many of us would be complaining about dried up lawns and parched gardens if that were the case. The lack of 90+ heat has been a blessing in a summer that hasn’t featured much consistent rain. High evaporation rates would have sucked the landscape dry by now. But be that as it may, we could still use a good drenching, and there isn’t much on the way.

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Some stressed trees already starting to drop leaves in Christopher Columbus Park along the Boston waterfront. Photo: Eric Fisher

Now there *have* been a few big events in the area, but they haven’t managed to nick everyone. The southeastern corner of the state got a widespread 2-5″ of rain from Arthur back in early July, with some up to 10″! But others missed out, especially off to the north and west. We’ve had some rounds of thunderstorms that put down torrential rains (an afternoon with 2-5″ in the Sudbury area comes to mind) – but those are often hit or miss in nature. Last Wednesday was a nice event for many of us (better off than Islip, NY with a whopping 13″ of it) but even then not everyone filled up their cup, so to speak.

There’s one spot in particular that has a gripe with Mother Nature, and it’s the corridor from the Worcester area down toward the Mansfield area. Time and time again, this strip of communities has been passed over by the rain gods. The tropical activity too far east, the general thunderstorm track too far north. A lot of the systems we’ve seen this summer have been powered by upper-level energy across the eastern Great Lakes, all moving up toward northern New England and Canada. This helped produce storms tracking SSW to NNE, mainly for western and central New England. But most of that energy stayed too far west to kick rain into the southeast part of the state.

By the numbers, we only have a couple climate sites readily available to us – Boston and Worcester.

City                   June           July       August

Boston               -1.06″          +1.14″       -1.05″

Worcester         -2.63″          +2.05″      -0.22″

Those two cities of course can’t really tell us the whole story, but a wider (Doppler estimated) precipitation analysis can. You can see the haves and have nots. The area I described above being very dry over the past 90 days, but numerous storms soaking parts of New Hampshire, WMass, and Vermont.

drytimes Dry Times Continue   But For How Long?

AHPS Precipitation Analysis for the past 90 days across southern New England. Source: NOAA

We’re certainly not in dire straits here. The lack of a hot summer, combined with non-critical rain shortages, mean we haven’t seen much of an impact. The area is showing up as ‘abnormally dry’ on the Drought Monitor. It’s more of a ‘raised eyebrow’ situation for now that we’ll have to monitor going forward. Many of you have already noted some leaves dropping off trees or starting to change color. A dry summer into the start of fall can accelerate that leaf drop (it’s always the less healthy/more stressed trees that start to do this first).

droughtmonitor Dry Times Continue   But For How Long?

Latest U.S. Drought Monitor. Source: USDA

So that brings us up to the outlook going forward – any wet stuff headed our way? Short answer is – not much. High pressure anchored over Maine/eastern Canada will keep a flow of relatively stable, cool air going through this weekend. This flow will keep a warm front at bay to our west, and is not a good setup for significant rain. I wouldn’t rule out a couple showers or sprinkles Thursday and Friday, but anything significant (say, more than 1/4″) is definitely not in the cards. High pressure will take firmer control as the weekend rolls on, ruling out any more rain.

somewarmth Dry Times Continue   But For How Long?

Then heading into next week, a ridge is expected to build over the Northeast. While it may not be too strong or too long-lasting, it should keep us dry through at least Wednesday and likely even longer. Temps should also rise with this pattern, getting many towns back into the 80s for at least a couple days. Safe to say we should not have any impactful rain anywhere in the area for the next 7 days.

What *may* end this stretch is a trough digging down into the Northeast late next week, and its interaction with potential tropical activity. Right now, there’s very low confidence on what, if anything, Invest 96L will do. It’s likely to stay fairly disorganized and weak over the next few days. Its exact track and intensity beyond that is uncertain. The NHC is going with a HIGH likelihood of it developing over the next 5 days, but that says little of its intensity. It would be considered ‘developed’ if it was a weak, 35mph tropical depression. Some models (like the 18z GFS, which is probably out of its gourd) bring it up the East Coast. I consider this unlikely for now, but we’re talking a week out so as always changes will likely come to the forecast between now and then. Something to keep an eye on, no pun intended.

rb animated Dry Times Continue   But For How Long?

tracks Dry Times Continue   But For How Long?

Spaghetti plot for Invest 96L, trending farther east than 36 hours ago. Just something to keep tabs on for now. Source: Weatherbell

 

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