Chance for snow remains in forecast for Saturday
A look at the surface map via Ocean Prediction Center at 7 AM Sunday illustrates two key elements. A departing low that will be rapidly intensifying on its way to Newfoundland, along with a weak frontal boundary from Long Island New York into the Canadian Maritimes.
It will be that front that that will dictate just how close that low comes to Maine. It's a good bet that that the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England will get some plowable snow. The precipitation shield lurks very close to the Maine shorelines.
As that weak front drops through the region Friday night into Saturday, I expect it to bring snow showers with it, primarily in the north and mountains. As moisture tapped that it is and with the region being in a bone dry air mass, it may only amount to flurries and isolated squalls.
I am keeping the chance for snow showers in the forecast for the south and east due to the proximity of the low to the coast. Be advised that any slow down of that weak front may bring steadier snow for the coast. For now, it does not appear that way, but I refuse to dismiss any snow activity just yet. At the very least, clouds will be more prevalent, but that weak front will reinforce the frigid cold already in place.
Cold to linger through the first week of January at least
Take this idea with a grain of rock salt for now, but there may be light at the end of the cold roughly around the first full weekend in January. Given the cold, their may be a storm involved to tip the scale to a more seasonable or slightly above normal period to break the snap. Outside of Saturday, the region appears to remain in a frigid, dry pattern for the remainder of the New Year's weekend and into the following week.
The 5-Day Outlook page has been updated through New Year's Day.
Freezer burn in the forecast for the near future
In the wake of the Christmas storm comes the coldest air mass of the season thus far. This is only the beginning of the cold snap that will affect the region and much of the country.
As guidance comes to grips with the cold, the forecast gets even colder. The deepest valley of the cold occurs on Thursday morning, with all areas likely to wake up to -20° to -40° or worse wind chill values. The polar air mass will modify a bit heading into the weekend, but it will hardly be noticeable to most.
The mountains and north are likely to go roughly a week with double digit below zero actual temperatures, with highs struggling to get to zero.
The Capital District is a bit "warmer" but overnight lows are very similar.
Way DownEast may manage to stay above zero during the span, but with wind speeds in the teens to 20 mph range, it certainly will not feel like it. The year of 2018 will begin as 2017 ends... with temperatures firmly in the basement.
With the frigid cold, a reminder to keep an eye on your senior neighbors, friends and relatives. With dew points in the cellar, drink plenty of water. Pets should not be outside for as long as necessary. These temperatures are likely to freeze pipes. It will also make weak car batteries fail to start vehicles, make diesel fuel coagulate and freeze any water content in gasoline. Expect tow trucks and AAA to be very busy assisting vehicles that are non-starters for the next week and beyond. Frost bite will occur in mere minutes. Dress accordingly. Snow covered roadways in low-salt areas around lakes, rivers and streams are likely to stay snow covered as it will be too cold for any melting to occur. Expect spotty slick areas while driving.
New Year's Weekend Snow A Close Call
For now this storm appears to have impact for the Mid-Atlantic and Southern New England, but it is early to dismiss this storm for Maine. While this model idea indicates it passes well southeast of the benchmark location (40°N / 70°W... the pink "X"), there remains the possibility of the storm tracking closer to the coast. As we saw with the most recent Christmas storm, it "backed in" closer to the shorelines about 72 hours out. For now, I have put a chance for snow in the 5-Day Outlook (click on menu above) for Saturday for the south and east, and a chance for snow showers for the mountains and north. It is still early, and the forecast could change.
Bundle up, and stay tuned.
A messy Friday and Saturday
How about some meteorological football play planning? If you've ever seen a football playbook or drafted one if you are a coach, you'll appreciate this post. If you don't like football or not into the X's and O's part of the game, you'll have to ride this one out. Like a pigskin plan on a napkin is how the first half of the weekend is going to play out.
Strong high pressure to the northeast is going to wreak havoc with the surface as warm air overloads aloft. The initial push comes as snow. It begins in southern areas Friday morning and moves northeast during the day and into Friday night. Dry air from the strong high may eat up precipitation at the onset, but as the air column becomes more saturated, snow will reach the surface statewide. For The County, the day escapes with increasing clouds with snow developing after dark.
I have tweaked the snow fall projections a bit to account for the fluff factor of the snow. For southern areas, most of this is down by around daylight, western areas by mid-morning, eastern areas by around noon, northern areas by mid to late afternoon.
Saturday features all four meteorological food groups
Back to the playbook. The surface warm front hasn't gained a whole lot of territory since last visited Friday evening. The high to the northeast is still hanging on strong. Low pressure over New York hits the wall of cold and tries to find an escape and begins to transfer energy over the Gulf of Maine. While that battle rages on, the wintry mix becomes a real problem for western, southern and eastern areas as the cold at the surface just will not budge.
As you look at this projected ice accretion chart, don't get caught up in the localized amounts as they are likely inflated. The key here is to look at the widespread area that could get freezing rain for at least part of the storm. If you're area is in the pink, expect at least some ice accretion to happen during the day on Saturday.
As I have mentioned previously, a lot has to go right for freezing rain events. Any nose of cold air that holds on changes the outcome once it reaches terra firma.
And it will be that nose of cold that holds below the warm where sleet is likely to be an issue. Any sleet that falls will eat away at freezing rain accretion, and for northeastern areas, snow. My snow map illustrates that chance.
You may not see orange where you are, but that does not mean you won't see any. Just remember... cold air and weather models do not get along very well.
All four food groups are on display for Friday and Saturday on this chart. All areas see snow. Best chance fora change over to rain is east of Penobscot Bay. West of Penobscot Bay depends on the cold. NOTE: This NAM model runs on the warm side. This chart is for discussion purposes only, and should not be used to indicate outcome. This is a very complicated set up, which this chart is being used to define it.
And then there is the wind...
This is where it becomes a concern for any event with ice as a potential. As the low transfers energy over the Gulf of Maine, it intensifies. With any intensification, comes wind. Given the projected track, western and southern areas may escape the strongest wind, that is track dependent however. With the icing that could come out of this, at least some power outages can be expected.
The main area of concern for the strongest wind is for Lincoln, Knox and Waldo County eastward by Saturday evening. Western and southern areas are in for a fairly stiff breeze also. If the freezing rain does accumulate over the southwest interior up into the western mountains, power outages are possible there until the wind diminishes overnight into Sunday morning.
Due to low tide occurring Saturday evening, I do not expect any coastal flooding issues.
Futurecast radar from the 18z NAM model in three hour increments presented for time frame purposes, and not for precipitation type. Precipitation begins Friday morning and is expected to end Saturday night or the wee hours of Sunday.
Sunday may see some widely scattered snow showers in the mountains and north, but otherwise should be void of precipitation.
And then there is Christmas...
I mention model volatility from time to time and also advise to beware of the foolish snow fall charts that go viral on social media. This type of science fiction causes more harm than good, and causes panic and fear which is unnecessary and false.
Here's a perfect example in regards to Christmas. This is the European 00z run from Wednesday evening showing this outcome of potential snowfall accumulation from Friday to Tuesday ...
And then the same model pitches this idea in data collected just 12 hours later for the same time frame...
A very stark difference in snow totals from the same model. While the image shows the epic snow gets spread around, this one won't get a whole of traction, and chances are it won't get shared. This leads to my point about what to expect for Christmas Day...
A look here at the GEFS ensembles shows most of the members with the storm offshore. The European model has changed its tune and is very similar. This has exploited a known bias in the European model on how it handles southwestern energy. Consequently, the energy has flattened out. What that means is snow is still in forecast, but at this point not a high impact event. The mountains and north see snow showers, the south and east higher accumulations due to proximity to the coastal storm. By higher, I am roughly thinking 2-5", but it is still early in the ballgame to nail down. If the storm shifts west, that raises totals; further east, lessens totals. Expect some snow, with more details to come on amounts and timing.
The 5-Day Outlook page has been updated through Tuesday. The link on the menu above will get you there.
The big picture
In order to get a perspective on how the weather pattern will play out for Maine over the next week, the activity in the Pacific holds the key. A look at the upper level energy shows the players better than any surface map.
The first hurdle will be for Friday afternoon through Saturday night. That energy is over the Pacific northwest of the United States. That will flatten out and tap into moisture from the south, and create an inside runner system that will impact the beginning of the weekend.
Christmas Eve Sunday continues to appear to be the best day of the weekend with varying amounts of clouds that are on track to increase in the afternoon. Effects from the energy south of Alaska Wednesday morning arrives in Maine around the time Santa arrives overnight.
Christmas Monday is on track to be a cold and snowy one, tapering from southwest to northeast in the afternoon into the evening.
A big blast of Siberian cold shows up for Boxing Day on Tuesday.
Friday / Saturday Concerns
Travel Friday afternoon into Saturday morning could be rather greasy for a good portion of the state, and it does not appear to improve much during the day.
If you happen to be in an area that shows green on the forecast chart here, don't bet on it being rain. With cold air damming likely to play a factor, a mix of sleet, snow and freezing rain is likely to impact much of the region. This is likely to make travel even more difficult. Given the cold air mass that takes over Thursday into Friday with temperatures near to below zero for overnight lows, the cold air is likely not going to cooperate. Precipitation is expected to continue into Saturday night, with conditions improving for Christmas Eve Sunday.
A White Christmas
With cold air restoring its grip over the region Christmas Eve, that sets the table for what now appears to be a widespread snow event for Monday. It is a bit early to get into specifics on accumulations, but a 6"+ event is possible for at least the mountains and north. Track will be key as for now appears close to the 40°N / 70°W benchmark point. It will also be dependent on how firmly entrenched the cold air will be over the state. There is wiggle room as there always is this far out in the forecast. For those traveling for Christmas, it would be wise to get to where you want to go on Christmas Eve and if you can, stay there until Boxing Day on Tuesday.
The Siberian Express Arrives Midweek
This is the kind of cold that is likely going to hurt. High pressure is on tap to settle in during the day on Tuesday. Temperatures that day appear to stay above zero. For Wednesday, temperatures may struggle just to get to zero over southern areas, and -10° for a high may be a struggle for the mountains and north by the middle part of the week.
NOTE: I am still taking life day-by-day due to health issues with my father-in-law. I will do my best to continue to update when I can. Thank you for your continued prayers and comments of support.
The 5-Day Outlook page has been updated through Christmas Monday. Click on the link above to get you there for the forecast for your region.
NOTE: The forecast has been updated. Please click on the DISCUSSIONS tab above for the latest information.
A brief rain shower / mix possible south
For Tuesday, it will be the time for the north to get in on the snow action as a cold front sweeps west to east across the region today. With warm air nosing in over the south and east, there is a chance for a brief rain shower or freezing rain pending on surface temperature. As discussed yesterday, precipitation appears to stay north of the Route 25 corridor between Parsonfield and Portland.
The heavier snow falls appears to fall over the international border with Quebec. I expect higher elevations around Katahdin to do well with this also. The ski hills have a nice treat heading into the holiday weekend.
For the more populated areas of the south and east will benefit with some above freezing temperatures for the day to help clean the streets up of some ice and snow. For the mountains and north, the mercury will flirt with 32° with cooler highs projected for the crown.
For areas that do thaw out Tuesday will see it freeze back up Tuesday night. This may create some untreated slick spots on roadways, parking lots and sidewalks going into Wednesday morning.
Outlook into the holiday weekend
Christmas weekend starts off with the chance for snow Friday. For what now appears to be an "inside runner" event kicks off with snow for the state during the day. Cold air damming will play a role in precipitation type heading into Saturday.
I will forewarn that there is plenty of time for a track shift with this one. The key element of this forecast chart that I believe is on the right course is the potential for sleet and freezing rain for interior areas. Where you see green, just think cold air damming may get a final say in all of this. Models and cold have a tough time agreeing with each other, and for an event this far out, there are reasons to be skeptical.
Christmas Eve Sunday appears to be the best day of the weekend for travel.
For those inviting friends and family in for the holiday, you may want to consider your guests having an extended stay. Guidance is in good agreement for a storm Christmas Day. Way early to get into specifics, but confidence for now is good to expect a weather event with some sort of travel impact to occur.
The 5-Day Outlook page has been updated through Sunday. You can click on the link above to get you there.
To make you all aware, my father-in-law is not doing well. At the time of this post, I am not sure how this is going to play out. My family has endured the loss two dear family members unexpectedly in the last 13 months, and we could be dealing with a third one on short notice. We had a trip planned for the holiday weekend that may or may not happen at this point. The short of it is I am taking everything day by day and moment by moment for now. If I drop out of sight, you'll know why. I will try my best to keep you updated, but family comes first.
Any prayers and words of support would be appreciated.