Last week when I picked up my regalia, I was warned that the fabric’s dye could run if the temperatures were warm or if it rained. Thankfully, it looks like our chance for rain during Commencement will be minimal. Highs should be reasonable as well, near 76°F (24°C). (With any luck, I’ll wear the white dress sitting in my closet.) Skies during commencement should be partly cloudy, with clouds increasing overnight. The chance for rain will also increase overnight and into Saturday as a shortwave moves through. The chance for rain will continue through Saturday night into Sunday as a weakly unstable air mass continues over the region. Temperatures through the weekend should remain comfortable with highs in the mid-70s, and lows in the 60s. A weak cold front will pass through Sunday night, followed by drier conditions and a more stable synoptic setup through the beginning of next week. And thus concludes my last Tech forecast as an MIT student. Good luck to the Class of 2010!
After yesterday’s thunderstorms and downpours of rain, a cold front passed through the area, bringing drier air behind it. Today, we get to enjoy it with mostly sunny skies as high pressure builds in the region. There will likely be a few clouds given leftover moisture, but the skies will clear more through the afternoon. The high for this afternoon will be around 63°F (17°C) and the winds will be 10–15 mph mostly from the northwest. Tonight should also be clear with lighter breezes still from the northwest. Enjoy Saturday, as similar conditions will remain in place during the daylight hours: sunny skies and spring-like temperatures. Beginning Saturday evening, the next weather system starts to make itself seen. Winds shift and come from the southwest, bringing warmer air and clouds with it. The various weather models are not yet agreeing as to the timing and amount of the Sunday’s potential rain. As I write this, the bulk of the rain is predicted to be to our south, and any rain that we do will likely be light. Accumulations will be probably less than 0.10”. Conditions will be cooler and wetter into the beginning of next week, so enjoy today’s sun!
As you read this, we are surpassing the record for Boston’s rainiest March in the last century. As of last night, we have seen a total of more than 11.2 inches of rain this month, while the rainiest March prior totaled 11.0 inches in 1953. Flooding throughout the region will occur; the NWS has flood warnings out for all of Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island, as well as much of New York and New Jersey. Today, a strong southerly low-level jet stream from the E/SE feeds lots of moisture over us. Upper level winds slowly push the low pressure system directly on top of us, centering a strong region of convergence right over Massachusetts. We should see the heaviest rain today around noon; totals for the day will be around three or more inches. Surface winds will be predominantly from the north/northwest and reaching a maximum speed of 20 mph.
The past few days have given us a taste of the spring weather to come with sunny skies and comfortable highs approaching 60°F (16°C). A cold front that moved through New England last night will keep highs a little cooler than the past few days, although still well above the normal high for this time of year. High pressure in the region will allow us to keep these dry conditions and mostly clear skies for today and tomorrow. Tonight’s clear skies and light winds will also be ideal for radiational cooling: Expect temperatures tonight to dip into the low 30s on campus, and into the 20s further inland. Clouds will begin to build in our region throughout Thursday, as the next storm system further strengthens over the mid-Atlantic and begins to move our way on Friday. Ample moisture means that we could see plenty of rain (potentially a few inches) for the whole weekend starting sometime Friday afternoon or evening. But for today and tomorrow, enjoy the sun — nothing but blue skies do I see.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but this week is going to be wet. Yesterday’s clear skies and relatively comfortable temperatures are gone. As I write this, certainty in the various models is not particularly high as to when the rain will start today. There is a low system, headed up the coast, that will bring much moisture our way. However, the type of precipitation, rain or snow, is going to depend on the timing of the storm and how much warm air is advected northward.
NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, recently stated that El Niño would be a dominant factor in this winter’s climate. But how is it that one phenomenon apparently restricted to the tropics can affect climate around the world? Well, it’s all due to the circulations in the atmosphere and ocean in the equatorial Pacific. Normally, there is great upwelling of the waters to the west of Peru; cold, nutrient-rich water is brought up and is blown westward by the trade winds, creating a “cold tongue” of water near the equator. More convection is seen to the west; but when El Niño conditions set up, the trade winds decrease; cold, nutrient-rich water does not upwell as much; and warmer waters set up further to the east than normal. As low pressure tends to coexist with warm waters, the pressure field in the Pacific tropics shifts, changing surface pressures and weather patterns, across the globe. However, despite all of these changes in the atmosphere, New England will not be affected significantly. For us, there are equal probabilities for a relatively cold or warm winter and for a relatively wet or dry winter.
After Sunday’s overcast rain, yesterday’s sunny blue skies (and its beautiful high of 75°F) were quite wonderful. However, last night we saw a large cold front pass that stretches down from Canada all along the Eastern seaboard and curves around through the gulf of Mexico. As it moved through our region, it brought clouds and rain.
A friend of mine once said, “You can tell that it’s fall when the skies are clear and blue.” And while this did apply to many of our high school afternoons, it isn’t quite as cut and dry here in Cambridge, where the weather varies more dramatically. Yesterday was such a day with completely clear skies due to high pressure off the coast. Today should also be fairly clear, with a few clouds here and there.
As the student population returns to MIT, it hardly seems the time to be looking ahead to the end of the semester and beyond. However, meteorologists must be aware of the atmosphere’s current patterns, and what can be expected to come; being aware of the climate in the next few months is both economically and socially advisable. For example, if drought is expected, farmers and economists alike can prepare for and hopefully mitigate any losses.
Ever since the gorgeous weather during CPW, I have been receiving more “Nice job with the Weather Machine” comments than ever. As one of the few undergrad meteorologists, I usually just laugh it off. But recently, the rate at which I’ve been asked “Why did you make it rain all week?” has begun to annoy me. Let me set the score straight: the weather machine is a myth.
If you thought yesterday’s rain was miserable, just imagine what residents along the Red River of the North in North Dakota and Minnesota are going through! Frozen, saturated ground with melting snow and the rain from a few storms spelled a worsening disaster. There were massive sand-bagging efforts by residents to keep the river’s waters in its banks. The recent flood crest of 40 ft. in Fargo (March 28) has since started to decline; the water level is now at 33 ft., which is still considered a flood. But those upstream of us in Canada are not safe yet. The Red River is expected to crest for them sometime between April 8 and 17. They are also still dealing with ice jams blocking and clogging the river.
By now, the semester has hit you like a bus; we’re three weeks into term and the problem sets are stacking up. You’re probably starting to get stressed with the first round of tests and chilly weather isn’t helping. “When’s winter going to end?” a Texan friend asked as it was snowing this Wednesday night. But never fear, spring’s almost here! The daily highs are increasing, slowly but certainly. The normal high for today is 40˚F (4˚C), and the low 25˚F (-4˚C). By next week, climatology for Boston shows highs increasing to 41˚F (5˚C) by next Friday, but by the following Friday (March 6th) we could be seeing temperatures reaching from 43˚F (6˚C) to 29˚F (-2˚C). And a month from now, we’ll be seeing an average high of 48˚F (9˚C), and the average low will finally be above freezing.
It appears as if this year’s cold and snowy season is not yet over! In the wee hours of Monday (around 3 a.m. when I was up pondering today’s forecast), I noticed sleet. When I woke up a few hours later, I witnessed another attack from the snow gods. And what was there yesterday afternoon? More snow. This weekend’s glorious 60 degree temperatures are gone. We move from spring to winter in 24 hours, such is the will of the weather of Cambridge, Mass. But never fear, spring is nearly here! The temperatures this week aren’t returning anywhere near the January abyss, with highs in the mid 40s, and lows no lower than the low 30s. And after tonight, all the potential precipitation this week is more likely to be of the liquid variety.
A storm that just left the South and Midwest hits us today, bringing the Boston area snow, freezing rain and sleet within the next 12–24 hours. This storm affected many communities from Texas to Ohio yesterday. Arkansas, Kentucky and Oklahoma were especially hard hit by ice from the storm; power lines and tree branches were downed, and many lost electricity. Snow fell to the north of the ice belt, with white accumulations from Illinois to Ohio. The storm moved our way into the northeast early in the am. The commute this morning should be hit by the hardest of the snow and sleet from this storm. This afternoon, Boston should see the snow changing into sleet and freezing rain as warmer air will be move in. How much snow and how much frozen stuff will we see? Expect from 3–6 inches of snow, with more emphasis on the lower side of this estimate. After 3 p.m., rain and sleet could total as much as a half of an inch or more.
Tonight marks the second presidential debate at Belmont University’s Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Unfortunately, moderator Tom Brokaw and the two candidates are in for rain, preceding a cold front that should pass through Nashville on Wednesday. Weather has long had a psychological effect on the human psyche. How will this affect the debate? Will the rainy skies cast shadow on either candidate, making either seem unqualified? Will McCain make use of the thunder for dramatic effect? Or perhaps, Obama will show flashes of clarity with every lightning strike.
Well, I’m sorry to get your hopes up; Boston just isn’t far enough inland for that delightful white fluffy stuff. We get rain. Sorry. I feel your loss, really: after half of a semester of Experimental Physics 1, I’m more than ready to throw snowballs at all my friends. So, why are we not getting snow? It’s simply not cold enough here yet; remember how unseasonably warm it was on Sunday with a high of 66°F? The source of today’s storm is a low that strengthened as it moved from off the middle Atlantic coast to New England. It has enough moisture to give us anywhere from a quarter to a half inch of rain today in Cambridge (grab your umbrellas!), and drop anywhere from a few flakes to a few inches in the Berkshires and at other high altitudes far inland. Don’t worry too much though about your missed snowball fights; we’ll get our wintry weather soon enough.
It was only last week that Hanna swung through and drenched our Saturday night, and now Hurricane Ike is preparing to hit Texas. Ike, the fifth hurricane of the season, developed off the coast of Africa, and reached the status of Category 4 last Thursday with a low of 935 mb and peak winds at 145 mph (230 km/h). After drenching the Turks and Caicos Islands, it was downgraded to a Category 3; in Haiti its floodwaters and mudslides were the cause of 74 deaths; it dropped to a Category 1 after soaking Cuba. Ike now approaches Galveston with winds stretching 115 miles from the center. Storm surges are expected to reach up to 20 feet with 5-10 inches (125-250 mm) of rainfall on Saturday across the Louisiana and Texas coastline. It’ll weaken as it makes landfall turning up eastward through Arkansas and Missouri.