Temperatures Struggle To Rise Into 2018, Storm Threat Thursday

BOSTON (CBS) – It’s all about this extraordinary cold that has become entrenched across much of the northern United States including New England.

Despite afternoon sunshine through some patchy high cloudiness, the temperatures will struggle to reach the middle teens in the Boston area and 10 degrees farther northwest of the city.

The wind will be blowing at 12 up to 28 mph in some gusts thus creating “real-feel” temperatures below zero much of the time.

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As the temperatures continue to drop accompanied by wind that will sting, the National Weather Service has issued a Wind Chill Advisory effective at 8 p.m. until noon Monday.

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The wind chill temperatures will fluctuate in the range of about 5 below to 20 below zero overnight.

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The dangerous wind chills will certainly impact some plans and celebrations for ringing in the New Year Sunday night. If your steppin’ out, dress in layers and cover all skin to avoid any frostbite. At midnight, the zero line will be near the I-95 corridor down to the Massachusetts Turnpike.

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By dawn, much of the region, except most of Cape Cod, will be subzero, likely yielding some records in a few locations. My projected min of -1 in Boston will not break the record of -3 set in 1918. A new record of -7 is possible at the Worcester Airport.

We are accustomed to arctic blasts here in New England. Most of them are quick-hitters lasting a couple days such as the one that struck on Valentine’s Day weekend in 2016. That is when Boston shivered through 2 consecutive new record low temperatures at -4 on 2/13 and a whopping -9 on 2/14! Most of the rest of that winter was warm with above to much above average temperatures especially during the month of December which had a mean temperature of an astonishing +10.6 degrees!

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The longevity of this current cold spell is remarkable. Through Sunday, the temperature has failed to rise above 20 degrees for 5 straight days. A repeat performance is a sure bet for Monday and the probability is high for Tuesday too. As long as it doesn’t rise above 20 Tuesday afternoon, Boston will have 7 consecutive days at 20 degrees or less which would tie the record of 7 set 100 years ago in January 1918!

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For consecutive days below 32 degrees, the record is 17 set in that super cold winter of 1917-18. More recently, in the snow blitz of February 2015, there were 15 straight days under 32 in the month which had a mean temperature of a gargantuan -12.7 degrees! It is possible that there will be 12-14 days under 32 in this current cold spell if the track of an approaching storm is far offshore negating any appreciable warming.

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The storm threat exists for Thursday and Thursday night. Presently, it is too premature to be highly confident about the specifics on this storm. It has the real potential to explode into a monstrous beast over the western Atlantic. Its precise path is not etched in stone yet and that will be crucial in determining the magnitude of impact on New England.

A closer track would suggest a flow of milder air in from the ocean causing a mix to rain over southeastern Mass. and perhaps up into the immediate Boston area. A shift farther offshore favors a fluffier snowy scenario generating several inches for most of the region.

One thing is quite clear and that is the wind should reach gale strength. This will be monitored closely especially along the coast due to extra high tides all week generated by Monday’s super moon called the Full Wolf Moon. Presently, most signs suggest more of an offshore rather than onshore component to the wind reducing the threat of major coastal flooding.

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HAPPY NEW YEAR!