World and Nation

The First Winter’s Snow

The First Winter’s Snow

After a bitterly cold weekend, conditions were primed for our first accumulating snowfall of the season. Although only a couple inches fell on campus early Monday morning, it was enough to change the landscape from fall’s dying colors to a layer of white.

Determining the precipitation type in New England is trickier than simply forecasting rain or snow. Often, warm southerly winds ride up over a dense, cold dome of air at the surface causing a temperature inversion where the ground is below freezing but the air a kilometer or two aloft is above freezing. This can wreak havoc with what falls from the sky. For instance during this past storm, the depth of the cold air was very shallow over central Massachusetts leading to an extended period of freezing rain causing tree branches and power lines to fall. If the depth of the cold air was thicker, the rain would have had time to freeze before hitting the ground resulting in sleet. Further north, the entire atmospheric column stayed below freezing. Consequently, ski resorts in northern Vermont received 7–10” of new snow early Monday with more on the way delighting early season skiers and boarders.

No more big storms are on the horizon the next few days, but the temperature will be running below average, so watch for areas of ice as wet spots freeze up nightly.

Extended Forecast

Tonight: Mostly cloudy and breezy. Low 25°F (-4°C).

Tomorrow: Mostly cloudy to cloudy and not as windy. High 35°F (2°C).

Tomorrow night: Cloudy early, then clearing toward dawn. Low 23°F (-5°C).

Thursday: Sunny and breezy. High 34°F (1°C).