Beyond The Forecast: Warm January Not A Sign Of Early Spring In New England

BOSTON (CBS) – Is winter over? Are we in for an early spring? These are some of the common questions coming into our weather office today.

Come on New England, you’re better than that! Really? One record setting warm day and you are ready to pack up the boots and jackets and break out the shorts?

Don’t get me wrong, it certainly was hard not to catch a little spring fever today – a record tying 61 degrees in Boston will tend to do that. In fact, this was the first 60-degree day in January in quite some time, 4 years to be exact.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

But winter over? Nope. Not even close. How quickly we forget, just a few days ago, many folks were digging out from a foot and a half of snowfall!

Where else but New England can you go from 18 inches of snow to 60 degrees in the blink of an eye. So what is in store for the rest of our winter? When will it return?

The Short Term

Looking for winter? It is literally just a few hundred miles away. As we speak, there is a very sharp cold front just to our west. Temperatures drop some 20 to 30 degrees behind this front and it is steaming towards Southern New England.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

Friday will be one of those upside-down days with the high temperature actually occurring just after midnight (low 50s). By the time the sun comes up, temperatures will already be in a free fall. Low 40s during the morning, 30s in the afternoon, 20s by nightfall and teens/single digits by Saturday morning.

Most places won’t get out of the 20s on Saturday. We get a bit of a recovery on Sunday with more “seasonal” highs in the low to mid 30s.

The Medium Range

Even though we are about to crash back to a cold reality in the next 24 hours, overall things look quite mild in the days ahead. For most of next week, the entire Country will be in a January thaw.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

A strong Pacific jet (also responsible for all the rain and snow in California) will dominate the weather across the United States in the coming days, pushing the cold, Arctic air back to the pole.

Temperatures in New England will be well above average for a good portion of the next 7-10 days. Very little, if any snowfall is expected in this time period.

The Long Range

We are sticking with our initial predictions of a fairly “average” winter here in the Boston area. Up until now, for the most part, that has been exactly the case.

Temperatures in December and January have been just about average and Boston’s 14.2” of snowfall is less than an inch shy of our average to date. So, that means we still have PLENTY of winter left to go.

There are some fairly significant signs that our atmosphere is likely to rearrange itself during the last week of January. Temperatures in the stratosphere (tens of thousands of feet up) are forecast to dramatically warm as we head into February.

Who cares what the temperature is up there, you may ask?  Well, typically where there is stratospheric warming (expanding of the atmosphere at those levels), the air below in the Troposphere (where we live) gets cold.  This is currently happening over in parts of Europe and a big flip-flop could mean a cold and snowy February for the northern tier of the United States.

A cold and snowy finish to winter would be nothing new. Just think back to our last few winters, both back loaded with snow and cold. Last winter was incredibly mild and we didn’t get our first inch of snow in Boston until January 17.

But remember how cold March and April were, more than 6 inches of snow fell in Boston April 3-4. And need I remind you of the winter of 2014-2015? Through mid-January just a few inches of snow had fallen. By the time spring finally arrived we had shattered records with more than 110” of snow in Boston.

So, for those silly enough to think winter may be over as we sit here on January 12…think again.

Comments

One Comment

  1. so true….still have long way to go folks.

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