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For close to a decade, Dave has produced and published a regular video blog of topics relevant to diy home gardeners. The entire, searchable GrowingWisdom library of gardening videos are available right here on this website or by visiting our YouTube Channel. Below is Dave’s latest video.
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While there might be a few showers this morning, we are generally in a dry stretch of weather. April can bring lots of rain, “April showers,” or it can sometimes turn quite dry as it did last year and appears to be doing so again. The forecast for the rest of the month only gived southern New England about 25 percent of the normal rainfall we would expect. While I wouldn’t panic about the lack of water just yet, we definitely don’t want to see this pattern continue through May.
Very strong sun in April
The sun is very strong from now until Labor Day. We are entering the period of the year with the greatest amount of daylight, and the sun is as strong as it would be on August 23. This means you can get quite burned rather quickly. Also cars with windows closed can heat up very fast if you park in the sun.
—Time and Date
Winds Tuesday will continue to come from the east. You likely noticed how much it cooled off Monday afternoon as the sea breeze moved further and further inland. On Tuesday, all of us will remain in the 50s, but the cool weather will be relatively short lived. I am already forecasting a return of near 70-degree temperatures for both Thursday and Friday.
A cold front and associated low pressure will pass through early Tuesday. This will bring some showers, but not much rain. The ground is still rather moist, but we could use some of those April showers to keep things growing well. Any rain we do see won’t amount to much, but could leave roads wet as you drive to work this morning.
The weekend may start with some showers and cooler air, but it looks seasonable overall and there will be times of sunshine to enjoy another April weekend.
Pollen counts remain very high as the trees are in full bloom and the lack of rain keeps the pollen grains from falling out of the air. It will take a heavy rain or at least half a day of rain to get the air cleaned up. This time of the year with so much coming into bloom it’s definitely difficult for allergy sufferers.
You can follow more of my forecast here and on Twitter @growingwisdom.
Marathon Monday will begin cool for the runners, but quickly warm. If a sea breeze never materializes, then from about 11 a.m onward, temperatures will be between 65 and 72, quite warm for running, but nearly ideal for spectating.
A cold front with marine air on the other side of it will make its way south Monday night and Tuesday, bringing colder air and returning temperatures to seasonable levels from above average ones. While there will be a frontal passage, it will likely come with not anything more than clouds.
The spell of dry weather will resume next week with the next chance of significant rain perhaps until as long as 10 days from now. That’s about the time I’ll start getting nervous about the prospects for summer drought.
The jet stream is stuck, and this time it’s good for us
Stunning stretch of blue sky as far as I can see, that’s my forecast for the next several days and beyond. We are locked in a blocking pattern where the weather gods are smiling down on New England. The jet stream is stuck in a position such that storms will not be able to penetrate into the area and therefore sunshine, and eventually a few days of warm weather, are in the offing.
Meteorologists call the present jet stream configuration an omega block. This blocking pattern takes on the shape of the Greek letter omega: Ω. This is depicted in the image below.
—Tropical Tidbits/Dave Epstein
It’s not always sunshine and tranquil weather in these blocks. The block has three parts, low pressure, then high, then low again. If New England were influenced more by the low pressure sides, then we’d have clouds and precipitation.
Check out the forecast for the next five days. How often do we see so many days of sunshine in April?
Now look at what’s going on in parts of Colorado, they are under the influence of the omega block as well, but the inclement side of it.
Spring is typically when these stuck jet streams set up. The atmosphere is in deep transition from its winter mode to summer. In the readjustment, things can get stuck.
While the block is slow to move, it’s not in the exact same position every day. There will be some changes heading into the weekend and early next week.
This year’s Boston Marathon marks the 40th anniversary of the so-called “Run for the Hoses” Marathon—it took place on April 19, 1976 and has become a bit of a legend.
Patriots’ Day that year was hot and humid, with a Bermuda-type high pressure system off the coast, which pumped summer heat northward for several days. The day before was Easter Sunday, and Logan Airport reached a record 94 degrees.
A historical weather map for the day of the 1976 Boston Marathon. —NOAA
The high on Marathon Monday in 1976 was 82 in Boston, but in Worcester it was 91! (Interestingly enough, in 2004 and 2012, it was actually several degrees warmer at the finish line.)
Early leader Richard Mabuza getting hosed in Framingham. Mabuza led until “Heartbreak Hill” but finished in 36th place. —Frank O’Brien
Since the route runs from Hopkinton to Boston, we can assume it was in the upper 80s and lower 90s for much of the race before it cooled off a bit at the finish line. Add in the sunshine and the pavement, and you have the makings for an uncomfortable run, to say the least. It wasn’t, however, 100 degrees anywhere along the route, as some have been known to say—even if it felt that way to some of the runners.
Winner Jack Fultz in Newton is followed by an official bus with a “Hose the Runners” sign. —Frank O’Brien
The Boston Athletic Association used to begin the Marathon at noon, but in 2007, it was moved earlier to have the elite runners avoid the heat of the day.
On Monday this year, there will be cool ocean air trying to push in, but most of the race will be finished before it arrives. Temperatures should be in the 50-72 degree range from early morning until midday across the Marathon route. In other words: no repeat of four decades ago.
High temperatures for Marathon Monday 2016. —Dave Epstein/@growingwisdom
Follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom
April can be a frustrating month.
In southern New England, there’s often some snow. In towns within 20 miles of the Vermont or New Hampshire border, the ground can be covered in the white stuff. And along the coast, the region’s famed sea breeze often makes things feel less than spring-like, despite of what the calendar says.
We’ve seen some fluctuations in the weather since the first day of spring, from 70-degree warmth to snow. There have also been a lot of days with wind, including some bone-chilling mornings. But that’s about to change.
Tuesday’s rainfall won’t amount to much. Most of you will see a quarter to perhaps half an inch of rainfall, which is enough to keep the plants happy.
Rainfall Tuesday April 14th 2016 —NOAA
Once this system moves by, high pressure will build in the area and protect us from any weather systems through the weekend and into next week. Expect light winds for several days, and a sea breeze may keep the coast cooler than the rest of the region.
I expect temperatures to fall into the 30s to near 40 at night. There might be a frost or light freeze, but I don’t foresee any widespread sub-30 degree weather ahead.
This stretch of fine weather might get you thinking about planting a few things. Seeds of cool weather crops need to germinate in soil that’s at least 40 degrees. Some seeds, like kale, collards and lettuce, prefer temperatures around 70 degrees for optimal germination. There’s no way our soil will get that warm in the next few days, so you could cover it with a clear plastic sheet to heat it up. Just be sure you remove the plastic as soon as the seeds put out roots or you could cook them.
Peas, radish, carrots, choys, and kale should be able to germinate if you want to plant directly into the ground. The map below shows the expected soil temperatures for later this week. It’s still on the cool side, but warming slowly.
Projected Soil Temperatures 4-14-16 —WeatherBell Analytics
The next chance of widespread rain doesn’t appear to come for another eight to 10 days. There may be a few sprinkles from a back door cold front Monday, but temperatures look rather comfortable for spectator and runner alike at the Boston Marathon.
It appears we have finally turned the corner to a more enjoyable April weather pattern. You’ll be able to get outside a lot over the next week to 10 days, which is something that’s not always available in early spring.
The upcoming weather pattern isn’t going to be warm and sunny with the feeling of spring in the air, but we will at least have days with some sunshine. With the second weekend of April upon us, we’re also closing in on the home opener for the Red Sox.
The bottom line on Monday’s weather is it won’t be anywhere near picture perfect, but the game is likely to be played. There won’t be any snow (that’s good), but there is the chance for showers during the game.
A cool weekend before the game
If you are wondering about the weather the next few days, it looks fair, not great. Lots of clouds will be around Friday with some breaks of sunshine and a brief passing shower.
Clouds increase after morning sunshine on Saturday with temperatures only in the 40s. There may be a few rain showers Saturday night or a flake of snow, but any forecast of accumulation earlier this week doesn’t look valid.
Sunday is a sunny and cool day with highs in the 40s. That sets us up for the home opener on Monday with mostly cloudy skies, a passing shower, and highs in the lower 50s with a southwest wind that will be quite active at times.
On Monday, it may shower
The tarp may need to be kept on the field a bit longer in the morning because of showers in the area. Of course, predicting the location and timing of morning showers three full days before they happen is fairly inaccurate. However, we do know there will be a flow of southerly air by then and a line of showers to the west. In these situations there is often a period before the main line of rain where showers occur.
The map below is for 2 p.m. on Monday; the green area represents the rain. Notice how there is a large concentration of rain to the west of New England in a line: this is a front. The front will take several hours to reach Boston, not doing so until the overnight hours Monday and early Tuesday. It’s then that the rain will mostly fall and the game will have been over for a while.
This surface map is for Monday, the day of the Red Sox home opener. There may be showers before and after the game. —WeatherBell Analytics
There won’t be a lot of sunshine
With the chance of showers there will also be a lot of clouds. The four-panel map below gives us an idea of cloud cover during the game. The upper left panel is overall cloud cover with the other three forecasting the clouds at different levels. Black is clear, white is cloudy. You can see from this map the present forecast calls for a lot of clouds.
Monday will be cloudy. —Weather Bell Analytics
But, hey: Brisk winds mean more home runs!
Winds will be brisk from the southwest, blowing out of the park and hopefully helping the Red Sox start the season with some homers. (Of course, the wind will also benefit the Orioles.) When the winds are blowing from a southerly to southwesterly direction towards the outfield in Fenway, more hits (and home runs) occur.
This graphic shows the relationship between hits and wind direction in Fenway Park. When winds are blowing in a southerly direction towards the outfield, more hits occur. —Data Viz
Friday was Earth Day 2016, that annual event that has been occurring since 1970! I love to garden this time of the year as spring is certainly planting season. Every spring is different, but this one we quite dry with the April showers not really appearing as of yet. All of southern and central Maine are in need of a soaking rain storm. We haven’t seen a healthy dose of rain since early in the first week this month and dry weather continues this weekend.
Red flag warnings have appeared again today and indication of just how dry it’s been. Sunday will be a stellar looking day, but it will be chilly in the morning and only in the low to mid 50s in the afternoon. There is finally a chance of some more significant rain on Monday and perhaps more showers at the end of the week.
With the weather being more conducive to planting let’s think about the one thing you should do this spring to help your garden.
Gardening is an amazing hobby—it’s something you can do your entire lifelong. I’ve spent a bit of time thinking about what aspect of gardening is most critical, and I’ve arrived at the earth itself: the soil, the stuff in which most plants grow.
This weekend is a good time to consider your soil. Whether your garden is something as small as a container or as large as an acre garden, if you don’t have good soil, it’s much more difficult to find success growing. Sounds obvious, right? And you might also not be sure what you can do to have good soil.
Two words encompass something you should be doing each year to your soil: “amend it”—as in, fix it. Amending your soil means adding nutrients or other medium like peat, compost, or even sand to change the consistency. Doing this on a regular basis provides vital nourishment for your plants, allows more oxygen into the soil (which is critical for proper growth), and builds a strong base for all your growing needs.
When amending, go organic and use slow-release fertilizers; strive for a sandy loam, which is great for growing almost everything. If you have specialty plants which require wetter or drier soil, learn what the soil you have needs and build it up with the amendments you need. To take out the guess work for what to add, have your soil tested. There are several places to get your soil test, including the extension service through the University of Maine. It’s easy and a great teaching moment for kids, too.
Remember, you can have the correct amount of sunlight, water, and perfect temperature, but if your soil isn’t good, you’re fighting a battle you might not win.
Another very dry day is on tap today with high fire danger and a bit of a breeze. The air continues to void of much of the moisture and with the sunshine this produces an elevated danger of brush fires. There are specific criteria for red flag warnings (highest fire danger) and although those won’t likely be met in Maine, they will be in southern New England.
High pressure brings weather which is typically calm and tranquil. It’s hard to get much, if any, precipitation in these patterns, but depending on the position of the high, it can be cool or warm.
As the high moves off the coast, a return flow on the back side of it will change the wind from the cool north and east direction to a warmer southerly one. This means temperatures into the mid-60s to lower 70s for Thursday and Friday.
In order to move from one air mass to another, a cold front must pass. This front is the focal point for the chance for some Friday evening and overnight showers, but they won’t be very heavy.
I don’t expect much precipitation with these showers. The map below shows total precipitation, including any melted snow, through Tuesday morning. Notice most areas stay under half an inch of rainfall.
After the frontal showers another seasonable air mass will come in for the weekend with highs back in the 50s. There will be plenty of sunshine. Next week could be quite chilly for a couple of days. There is even the chance of a period of cold rain or wet snow (over the interior) Tuesday night or Wednesday. This would be unusual, but not unprecedented. Snow has occurred into May across all of Maine.
This is why it’s way too early to put in certain warm weather plants and or to put away the warm jacket for those chilly April mornings.
The second forecast map I want to show you predicts whether temperatures will be below or above average. This map clearly indicates a cool regime across the northern tier of the United States. You can really get a feeling for where the jet stream, which often divides air masses, will be positioned. Think of the upper winds as blocking the warm and cold air from moving north or south.
I put the upper flow on the map in a black line. Remember, weather generally moves west to east. Eventually the jet stream will head into Canada for the summer and we will warm up. However, with a cold Atlantic Ocean to our east, this part of the country is sometimes the last to really feel like spring until it’s almost summer.
While we do have showers in the forecast tonight, Patriot’s Day 2016, and the running of the Boston Marathon to our south feature great weather. There have been all sorts of weather on this holiday in the past, from snow and rain to wind and cold and even some early season heat. Since Patriot’s Day floats a bit it’s harder to give all the weather that’s occurred on the holiday, but on April 18, 1992, there was 2 inches of snow in Portland! Mid-April can bring almost any type of weather you can think of to southern and central Maine.
High pressure is going to remain in control through the entire day and grace all of New England with blue skies and abundant sunshine. You will likely notice some high clouds filtering the sunshine, but temperatures will continue their rise throughout the early afternoon. The warmest part of the day will occur before 1 p.m along the coast, after which a cooling sea breeze will push temperatures back into the 50s. Inland west of Gray, Gorham and Waterboro the effects of the ocean air won’t be as noticeable. This means warmer readings reaching the mid- to upper 60s.
The sun is very strong from now until Labor Day. We are entering the period of the year with the greatest amount of daylight and the sun today is as strong as it would be on Aug. 23. This means you can get quite burned rather quickly. Also, cars with windows closed can heat up very fast if you park in the sun.
Overall this is going to be a warmer than average week with temperatures reaching the 60s on Thursday and Friday. Tuesday is the cool day this week with highs in the 50s along with some morning showers, but nothing extensive. Since there will be more sunshine on Wednesday it will feel nicer even if actual air temperatures are similar to the day before.
The weekend may start with some showers and cooler air, but it looks seasonable overall and there will be times of sunshine to enjoy another April weekend.
I did get some questions about gardening this weekend. It’s fine to plant cool weather crops like lettuce, kale, choy, onions and beets, but you definitely do not want to be planting warm weather things like beans, tomatoes and peppers. We will have nearly a month to go before it’s safe putting those things in the ground.
“A stunning stretch of blue sky as far as I can see” – that’s my forecast for the next several days and beyond. We are locked in a blocking pattern where the weather gods are smiling down on central and southern Maine. The jet stream is stuck in a position such that storms will not be able to penetrate into the area and therefore sunshine and eventually a few days of warm weather are in the offing.
Meteorologists call the present jet stream configuration an omega block. This blocking pattern takes on the shape of the Greek letter omega and is depicted in the image below where the flow in the atmosphere resembles this: Ω.
It’s not always sunshine and tranquil weather in these blocks. The block has three parts, low pressure, then high, then low again. If New England were influenced more by the low pressure sides we’d have clouds and precipitation
Check out the forecast for the next 5 days. How often do we see so many days of sunshine in April?
Now look at what’s going on in parts of Colorado, which is also under the influence of the omega block, but the inclement side of it.
Spring is typically when these stuck jet streams set up. The atmosphere is in deep transition from its winter mode to summer. In the readjustment process things can get stuck.
While the block is slow to move, it’s not in the exact same position every day. There will be some changes heading into the weekend and early next week. First a surge of warm air brings temperatures into the lower to middle 60s for Sunday and likely Monday as well. Some spots over the interior of York and Cumberland counties could reach 70 degrees.
Since Monday is a holiday you might be joining the thousands of runners and spectators heading for Boston. Monday will begin cool for the runners, but quickly warm up. If the sea breeze never materializes, then from about 11 a.m onward temperatures will be between 65 and 72 degrees, quite warm for running, but nearly ideal for spectators.
A cold front with marine air on the other side of it will make its way south Monday night and Tuesday bringing colder air and returning temperatures to seasonable levels from above average ones. While there will be a frontal passage it will likely come with nothing more than clouds. The spell of dry weather will resume next week with the next chance of significant rain perhaps as long as 10 days from now. That’s about the time I’ll start getting nervous about the prospects for summer drought.
April can be a frustrating month in Maine. There’s often still snow in the north and in the south a cool chill off the water keeps it from feeling very spring-like in spite of what the calendar says.
Since the first day of spring we’ve seen huge fluctuations in our weather from 70 degree warmth to snow. There have also been a lot of days with wind and even some bone-chilling mornings. It’s been as if the atmosphere just couldn’t calm down, but that’s about to change at least for a bit.
Today will feature a period of rain but I’m not expecting much of it throughout the day. The map below from the American model gives some very specific numbers. I show you this to illustrate the range of possible rainfall. You can assume you will see anywhere from roughly a quarter to half an inch. This is a good thing in April as it won’t be too long before our precipitation becomes much more showery in nature and we start watching for areas of drought.
Once this system moves by, high pressure will build in and protect us from any weather systems through the weekend and even into next week. I circled the high pressure system on the image below. This also means light winds for several days, although there could be a sea breeze keeping the coast cooler.
With several days of sunshine and clear skies there will be a large range in temperatures. At night I expect a frost or freeze in most places although right along the ocean, especially south of Portland, temperatures could remain above freezing.
This stretch of fine weather might get you thinking about planting a few things and you could certainly give it a try. Seeds of cool weather crops need to germinate in soil that’s at least 40 degrees and some, like kale, collards and lettuce, prefer temperatures around 70 degrees for optimal germination. There’s not any way our soil will get that warm yet, so you could cover the ground with a clear plastic sheet to heat it up. Just be sure you remove it as soon as the seeds put out roots or you could cook them.
If you want to just plant directly in the ground, peas, radish, carrots, choys, and kale should be able to germinate. The maps below show current soil temperatures and where they are expected to be later this week.
The next chance of widespread rain doesn’t appear to come until sometime after April 20. There might be a few showers from a back door cold front Monday, but if you are running in the Boston Marathon, the weather there looks clear and mild, but not hot.
After a rough start the first 10 days of this month, it appears we have finally turned the corner to a more enjoyable April weather pattern. You’ll be able to get outside a lot over the next week to 10 days, something that’s not always an option in early spring.
You can follow Dave Epstein on Twitter @growingwisdom
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