Remember that “window of opportunity” that we talked about starting around January 24 and going into February? Well, the window may not be open yet, but it’s unlocked. Now you know that I am a no-hype forecaster. I don’t believe in throwing details on potential weather events out there too early. Too many things can change over a short period of time with our repeated attempts to simulate the behavior of the atmosphere (i.e., model runs) despite all the technology we have available. The simple fact remains, weather is predictable, but not THAT predictable. So before anybody gets the idea that we’re about to get hammered with snowstorm after snowstorm here in southern New England, let me put this filter in place. Yes, the pattern is getting a little more active, and there will indeed be increased opportunities for significant snow events in the coming weeks. After all, it is Winter, we’re in the climatological cold zone, and well, this is often the time of year that some of our more significant storms develop and travel that lofty highway called the jet stream. None of that should surprise you. Still, that doesn’t mean that every Winter is cold and snowy, and this Winter, so far, has not been all that snowy by climate average standards. It has also shown different moods regarding temperatures with a cold November (some people regard November as early Winter, so for that reason we include it here), a mild December, and a cold January. Back in November, the seasonal forecast issued here indicated that once we got to February we’d see a moderation in temperature from the cold January and also an increased risk of snow events. This may indeed be the pattern unfolding, with the change already underway. But patterns don’t always just flip like somebody turns a switch. These changes often occur in stages. We have seen systems sneak out under southeastern New England (passing to the south) with cold/dry air dominating. We’ve also seen systems that have a more direct impact, but these have been coinciding with brief warm ups and resulted in rain events for much of the region, such as the one that just went by. But since we have seen both of these miss/hit scenarios, does that mean that during the transition we can get a storm or 2, or 3, that take a track that delivers precipitation and cold air at the same time? Absolutely. Will it happen for the entire region? That question does not have a definite answer yet, but in the forecast portion that follows this, we’ll try to figure out if that is going to happen one or more times during the next 7 days. So, what is this about 8 being a lucky number? It refers to MJO, or the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which is in phase 8 at this time. Phase 8 in late January is often a phase in which East Coast storms occur. So there you have it. There are other factors that come into play of course, but up to this point, MJO has not been too favorable or in the phase that would easily allow for East Coast storms to deliver widespread snow to the Northeast. If you want to read more about MJO, please click the 2 links in the comments section below.
A weak area of high pressure will force a small low pressure area coming from the Midwest to pass south of New England tonight and Thursday as it redevelops. As the high slips northeastward we will see a northeasterly flow set up in southern New England. The combination of these things will result in a light snow event for parts of the region, with the best chance of accumulating snow tonight along the South Coast and across Cape Cod and the Islands. After this event concludes we’ll see another high pressure area move in on Friday with dry and chilly weather. The next storm threat comes over the weekend, specifically Saturday afternoon and evening, when low pressure, this time infused with Gulf of Mexico moisture, will make a run up the East Coast. Now that does not mean we’re a lock for a big storm here just yet. There are several things to take into account at this stage. They include the fact that model trends do not always mean the correct outcome is being forecast. Also, there are some somewhat reliable guidance that indicate a miss for southeastern New England. At this point, either outcome can be argued for and supported by meteorological analysis. Assuming for a moment that the storm does indeed come close enough, it’s not likely be an all-snow situation as temperatures will be marginal at least at the start, especially in coastal and southern areas. We’ll also be dealing with a very rapidly-moving system, limiting the amount of time precipitation can occur. So as you see, this threat is far from a big snowstorm certainty, and there are details to be ironed out yet. Even further out in the future is another storm threat for later Monday into Tuesday of next week. Early indications are that the air mass would be colder leading to this potential event, but there is still plenty of unknowns regarding this threat, given the fact it’s days away.
SOUTHEASTERN NEW ENGLAND FORECAST…
TODAY: Sunshine followed by increasing cloudiness. Highs 30-37. Wind light variable.
TONIGHT: Cloudy. A period of snow South Coast, Cape Cod, and Islands with around 1 inch possible but potentially up to a few inches on Nantucket. Occasional light snow or flurries developing elsewhere with dustings and coatings. Lows 18-25. Wind NE up to 10 MPH except 10-20 MPH and gusty Cape Cod and Islands.
THURSDAY: Cloudy to partly sunny. Any snow and flurries ending early. Highs 30-37. Wind NE to N 5-15 MPH except 10-20 MPH and gusty Cape Cod and Islands.
FRIDAY: Mostly sunny. Low 15. High 30.
SATURDAY: Increasing clouds. PM rain/mix coast, mix/snow possible inland, ending as snow all areas night. Greatest chance for precipitation southern and eastern areas. Low 20. High 40.
SUNDAY: Clearing. Low 20. High 30.
MONDAY: Increasing clouds. Chance of snow late. Low 15. High 25.
TUESDAY: Cloudy. Chance of snow. Low 20. High 25.