About David Epstein

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturist for three decades. He spent 16 years on-air at WCVB in Boston and currently is a meteorology professor at Framingham State University Colby College. Dave's weather, climate, and gardening content can seen, heard and read regularly on the following media outlets: boston.com, Portland Press Herald, WBUR Boston, WBZ-TV, WGME CBS 13 Portland and here at growingwisdom.com

Container Gardening Is A Great Way To Grow Nearly Anything

Container gardening is a great way to grow almost anything Over the past several years the container industry has brought us lots of new types of containers which make growing everything from carrots to trees a lot easier.

 

I partnered with Lowes to make this video and they provided the materials.  I got to choose what I liked so these products are things I actually use myself.  In this video I show you several different types of containers. there are wooden containers, self-watering containers, traditional clay pots, and the newer felt containers. All of these work really great four different applications.

 

When you grow in containers it’s important to choose the right soil. you can use a container soil for you can use regular garden soil and make your own containers while using some of the Amendments that are available. I like to use perlite vermiculite and coco blends in order to loosen up traditional soil. for those plants that like it on the driver side I tend to have a very well drained soil.

 

when you go to feed your plants be sure to use a mixture of granular as well as liquid fertilizer. I recommend using organic liquids and granular products if you are going to eat something that you are growing in your container if you’re just growing ornamental plants then it won’t matter.

 

Be sure to place any of your containers in the right location you don’t want to put a container growing shade loving plant in direct sun or vice versa.  When choosing plants to put in your containers mix plants together which enjoy the same growing conditions.

 

Containers take a good deal of water as they dry out quickly.  The plants themselves can also block even rainwater from getting to the soil.   Use a good quality hose and watering wand to make watering easier for you.

 

Remember, soil, light and food are the key ingredients to help plants in containers thrive.  The sky’s the limit with what you can grow in a container so let your imagination run wild and have fun!

Hermine will bring some showers and wind to parts of the region

9/4/16 - Woods Hole, MA - Rachel and James Whelen, cq, of Old Saybrook, CT, were led by their 4-month-old puppy Indy off the ferry at Woods Hole. They were returning a day early from Martha's Vineyard because of the advancing storm and worries of ferry disruptions. Passengers disembarked ferries at Woods Hole on Sunday afternoon, September 4, 2016. The Steamship Authority has not cancelled any trips yet due to approaching storm, but advised customers that trips may be cancelled late Sunday afternoon and that they should check the website for updates. Story by Alex Koktsidis and Jeremy Fox/Globe Staff. Photo by Dina Rudick/Globe StaffRachel and James Whelen, of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, were led by their 4-month-old puppy Indy off the ferry at Woods Hole on Sunday. They were returning a day early from Martha’s Vineyard because of the advancing storm and worries of ferry disruptions. —Dina Rudick / The Boston Globe

The storm named Hermine continues to influence our weather Monday, but the impact to the area won’t be significant.

Hermine is no longer a tropical system, rather it’s a post-tropical one, meaning the storm has lost many of its tropical characteristics and in many ways resembles a winter type of storm.

Hermine was located east of New England Labor Day morning.Hermine was located east of New England on Monday morning. —NOAA Satellites

As is the case in winter, there will be some beach erosion during the time of high tide, around 2 a.m and 2 p.m.  The persistent wind coming from the east creates larges swells, which move large amounts of sand from the beaches.

We do know the storm won’t create large damage or massive flooding, but it is still an ocean storm with a good deal of wind and rain.

Since Cape Cod and the Islands are closest to the storm, they will bear the brunt of its effects and see the most wind and rain. Even their rainfall totals will remain under 2 inches, not a number which promotes flooding beyond some street-type issues during the heaviest downpours.

The latest track of Hermine from the National Hurricane CenterThe latest track of Hermine from the National Hurricane Center. —NHC

In and around the Greater Boston area, rainfall will be limited.

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The best chance of getting to the rain shield will be areas inside of I-495, but really it’s those areas within the Route 128 belt and east of I-95 which may see a quarter-inch of rainfall.

Projected rainfall amounts through Wednesday.Projected rainfall amounts through Wednesday. —NOAA

The loop below from one of the models shows showers rotating west across the region through mid-week.

via GIPHY

This amount of rainfall is not only small, but won’t be enough to quell the drought. If you don’t see any rain, the cloud shield will thicken throughout Monday, so there won’t be much, if any, sunshine either.

Monday night and Tuesday bring the best chance for showers with the same pattern of coverage in play. In other words, the further west you live, the drier it will be. Showers will remain in the forecast through Wednesday when the storm finally either moves too far away or falls apart. There is still some question how Hermine will actually end.

As the storm departs Tuesday night and Wednesday, warmer and more humid air will push back into the region. Temperatures will make it into the 80s by Wednesday afternoon away from the coast and start heading for the 90s Thursday and Friday. This is 10 to 15 degrees above normal for early September.

Hermine will bring some showers and wind to parts of the region

9/4/16 - Woods Hole, MA - Rachel and James Whelen, cq, of Old Saybrook, CT, were led by their 4-month-old puppy Indy off the ferry at Woods Hole. They were returning a day early from Martha's Vineyard because of the advancing storm and worries of ferry disruptions. Passengers disembarked ferries at Woods Hole on Sunday afternoon, September 4, 2016. The Steamship Authority has not cancelled any trips yet due to approaching storm, but advised customers that trips may be cancelled late Sunday afternoon and that they should check the website for updates. Story by Alex Koktsidis and Jeremy Fox/Globe Staff. Photo by Dina Rudick/Globe StaffRachel and James Whelen, of Old Saybrook, Connecticut, were led by their 4-month-old puppy Indy off the ferry at Woods Hole on Sunday. They were returning a day early from Martha’s Vineyard because of the advancing storm and worries of ferry disruptions. —Dina Rudick / The Boston Globe

The storm named Hermine continues to influence our weather Monday, but the impact to the area won’t be significant.

Hermine is no longer a tropical system, rather it’s a post-tropical one, meaning the storm has lost many of its tropical characteristics and in many ways resembles a winter type of storm.

Hermine was located east of New England Labor Day morning.Hermine was located east of New England on Monday morning. —NOAA Satellites

As is the case in winter, there will be some beach erosion during the time of high tide, around 2 a.m and 2 p.m.  The persistent wind coming from the east creates larges swells, which move large amounts of sand from the beaches.

We do know the storm won’t create large damage or massive flooding, but it is still an ocean storm with a good deal of wind and rain.

Since Cape Cod and the Islands are closest to the storm, they will bear the brunt of its effects and see the most wind and rain. Even their rainfall totals will remain under 2 inches, not a number which promotes flooding beyond some street-type issues during the heaviest downpours.

The latest track of Hermine from the National Hurricane CenterThe latest track of Hermine from the National Hurricane Center. —NHC

In and around the Greater Boston area, rainfall will be limited.

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The best chance of getting to the rain shield will be areas inside of I-495, but really it’s those areas within the Route 128 belt and east of I-95 which may see a quarter-inch of rainfall.

Projected rainfall amounts through Wednesday.Projected rainfall amounts through Wednesday. —NOAA

The loop below from one of the models shows showers rotating west across the region through mid-week.

via GIPHY

This amount of rainfall is not only small, but won’t be enough to quell the drought. If you don’t see any rain, the cloud shield will thicken throughout Monday, so there won’t be much, if any, sunshine either.

Monday night and Tuesday bring the best chance for showers with the same pattern of coverage in play. In other words, the further west you live, the drier it will be. Showers will remain in the forecast through Wednesday when the storm finally either moves too far away or falls apart. There is still some question how Hermine will actually end.

As the storm departs Tuesday night and Wednesday, warmer and more humid air will push back into the region. Temperatures will make it into the 80s by Wednesday afternoon away from the coast and start heading for the 90s Thursday and Friday. This is 10 to 15 degrees above normal for early September.

What we know about how Hermine will impact the Greater Boston area

As of Saturday afternoon, there were still tropical storm watches posted for the south coast of New England, including the islands.

A tropical storm is a warm core (the center of the system is warm), low pressure area with winds of at least 39 mph and no more than 73 mph. If the winds reach 74 mph, it becomes a hurricane. The term tells us nothing about rainfall, coastal flooding, or any other variable associated with the storm.

Our strong nor’easters frequently have winds of tropical storm force.

Tropical Storm Warnings South Of Nantucket—NOAA

I recommend thinking of the upcoming weather and tropical storm conditions in some areas as similar to a typical-to-strong nor’easter.

The forecast for Hermine keeps southern New England on the western fringe of the storm for the next three days, perhaps into Wednesday or even Thursday. The farther south and east you are, the greater the impact from Hermine. Areas along part of the mid-Atlantic coast could see devastating beach erosion from the persistent flow of the air off the water day after day.

Hermine will remain a factor in the weather through much of this week.Hermine will remain a factor in the weather through much of this week. —NHC
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In the Greater Boston area, you can expect some beach erosion, gusty winds along the coast, and a few periods of showers or tropical downpours beginning Monday and continuing in the forecast through midweek. There will also be many dry hours when it’s just windy.

There could be scattered power outages from some fallen trees, and if winds do reach tropical storm strength, tree brittleness as a result of the current drought could create more tree damage than would be typical for winds this speed. (Speaking of the drought: There won’t be enough rain to alleviate it, and areas northwest of Boston will see very little—if any—rain at all.)

Eventually, Hermine will stir up cold water in the ocean beneath it.

This upwelling will also finally weaken the storm beginning Tuesday, but it will take until as long as next weekend for the storm to dissipate.

In summary: Think of the upcoming weather as a long storm event with some wind and showers, but not much total rainfall. 

The winds will be strong enough to create some minor damage, but a widespread major weather event isn’t going to be part of our forecast.

Once this weather system departs, it’s back to the heat and humidity, with at least a day or two of possible 90-degree heat at the end of the week.

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I’ll be updating the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom.

What we know about how Hermine will impact the Greater Boston area

As of Saturday afternoon, there were still tropical storm watches posted for the south coast of New England, including the islands.

A tropical storm is a warm core (the center of the system is warm), low pressure area with winds of at least 39 mph and no more than 73 mph. If the winds reach 74 mph, it becomes a hurricane. The term tells us nothing about rainfall, coastal flooding, or any other variable associated with the storm.

Our strong nor’easters frequently have winds of tropical storm force.

Tropical Storm Warnings South Of Nantucket—NOAA

I recommend thinking of the upcoming weather and tropical storm conditions in some areas as similar to a typical-to-strong nor’easter.

The forecast for Hermine keeps southern New England on the western fringe of the storm for the next three days, perhaps into Wednesday or even Thursday. The farther south and east you are, the greater the impact from Hermine. Areas along part of the mid-Atlantic coast could see devastating beach erosion from the persistent flow of the air off the water day after day.

Hermine will remain a factor in the weather through much of this week.Hermine will remain a factor in the weather through much of this week. —NHC
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In the Greater Boston area, you can expect some beach erosion, gusty winds along the coast, and a few periods of showers or tropical downpours beginning Monday and continuing in the forecast through midweek. There will also be many dry hours when it’s just windy.

There could be scattered power outages from some fallen trees, and if winds do reach tropical storm strength, tree brittleness as a result of the current drought could create more tree damage than would be typical for winds this speed. (Speaking of the drought: There won’t be enough rain to alleviate it, and areas northwest of Boston will see very little—if any—rain at all.)

Eventually, Hermine will stir up cold water in the ocean beneath it.

This upwelling will also finally weaken the storm beginning Tuesday, but it will take until as long as next weekend for the storm to dissipate.

In summary: Think of the upcoming weather as a long storm event with some wind and showers, but not much total rainfall. 

The winds will be strong enough to create some minor damage, but a widespread major weather event isn’t going to be part of our forecast.

Once this weather system departs, it’s back to the heat and humidity, with at least a day or two of possible 90-degree heat at the end of the week.

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I’ll be updating the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom.

Weekend weather: What you need to know for every activity you have planned

This is what many consider the final weekend of summer and the forecast hinges on exactly what tropical storm Hermine does.

Even though it’s Friday, there are still questions about how Hermine will move over the next 72 hours, and this will certainly affect how much sunshine, cloudiness, rain and wind we all experience.

Not matter what the storm does, the best weather will be the further north and west you are this weekend: these areas are furthest from the effects of Hermine.

The best weather will also definitely occur tomorrow. Saturday features the most sunshine and the warmest temperatures.

Sunday brings clouds and a chance of showers, and Monday offers the best chance of rain especially south of a line from Hartford, Conn. to Boston.

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Today features a nice day of weather to end the work week with low humidity and plenty of sunshine. If your weekend plans start this evening, look for temperatures falling through the 60s with clear skies.

Hermine will move north along the mid-Atlantic coastline and then stallHermine will move north along the mid-Atlantic coastline and then stall, —Hurricane Center

If you are going hiking, biking or running…

Saturday is definitely dry with no chance of rain. There will lots of sunshine, and with low humidity it’s a nice day for a long trek or run.

Temperatures will be mostly in the 70s SaturdayTemperatures will be mostly in the 70s on Saturday. —NOAA

Sunday is also dry, at least in the morning. I do see a chance of showers in the afternoon on the south coast, but just a chance. Look for clouds to be on the increase and sunshine to fade.

Clouds will increase Sunday, but it will still be pleasantClouds will increase on Sunday, but it will still be pleasant. —NOAA

Monday presently has the highest risk of a steady rain. If you are in northern New England this weekend it will be dry all three days, with the exception of the south coast of New Hampshire and Maine, where a few showers could occur Monday.

If you’re going beaching and boating…

North Shore of Massachusetts, New Hampshire Seacoast, and the coast of Maine: Tides are high in the 1 o’clock hour this weekend. The tides are not particularly high, which is good because with an onshore fetch Sunday and Monday some beach erosion is likely. The way Hermine moves over the weekend will determine the extent of any wind issues, but seas will be rough and you should be very cautious about going into the ocean Sunday and especially Monday.

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via GIPHY

If you’re playing soccer, softball, baseball, or golf…

Saturday’s forecast: Sports enthusiasts will enjoy a picture perfect Saturday and mainly dry Sunday.  Monday’s outings may need to be canceled or postponed with a high likelihood of at least some wet playing surfaces. There’s even a chance areas south of Boston become wet late in the day Sunday.

If you’re gardening…

The drought has gotten worse over the past seven days, and areas of extreme drought are also bigger. The best thing you can do as a gardener is to try to give the larger trees and shrubs some water.  Allowing a hose to slowly drip water around a plant is best. Please read my article about caring for you plants during the drought here.

If you’re running errands…

Plan on doing errands on Sunday or Monday if it’s feasible for you. Sunday will see an increase in clouds, and Monday looks to be at least very gray with possible steady rain.

If you’re going to a concert, outdoor party, or wedding…

There won’t be any issues with other outdoor events this weekend until later on Sunday and Monday. The rain shield may or may not penetrate very far north of the south coast. Keep checking my forecast for updates on the progress of Hermine all weekend.

I will be updating the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom throughout the weekend.

Weekend weather: What you need to know for every activity you have planned

This is what many consider the final weekend of summer and the forecast hinges on exactly what tropical storm Hermine does.

Even though it’s Friday, there are still questions about how Hermine will move over the next 72 hours, and this will certainly affect how much sunshine, cloudiness, rain and wind we all experience.

Not matter what the storm does, the best weather will be the further north and west you are this weekend: these areas are furthest from the effects of Hermine.

The best weather will also definitely occur tomorrow. Saturday features the most sunshine and the warmest temperatures.

Sunday brings clouds and a chance of showers, and Monday offers the best chance of rain especially south of a line from Hartford, Conn. to Boston.

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Today features a nice day of weather to end the work week with low humidity and plenty of sunshine. If your weekend plans start this evening, look for temperatures falling through the 60s with clear skies.

Hermine will move north along the mid-Atlantic coastline and then stallHermine will move north along the mid-Atlantic coastline and then stall, —Hurricane Center

If you are going hiking, biking or running…

Saturday is definitely dry with no chance of rain. There will lots of sunshine, and with low humidity it’s a nice day for a long trek or run.

Temperatures will be mostly in the 70s SaturdayTemperatures will be mostly in the 70s on Saturday. —NOAA

Sunday is also dry, at least in the morning. I do see a chance of showers in the afternoon on the south coast, but just a chance. Look for clouds to be on the increase and sunshine to fade.

Clouds will increase Sunday, but it will still be pleasantClouds will increase on Sunday, but it will still be pleasant. —NOAA

Monday presently has the highest risk of a steady rain. If you are in northern New England this weekend it will be dry all three days, with the exception of the south coast of New Hampshire and Maine, where a few showers could occur Monday.

If you’re going beaching and boating…

North Shore of Massachusetts, New Hampshire Seacoast, and the coast of Maine: Tides are high in the 1 o’clock hour this weekend. The tides are not particularly high, which is good because with an onshore fetch Sunday and Monday some beach erosion is likely. The way Hermine moves over the weekend will determine the extent of any wind issues, but seas will be rough and you should be very cautious about going into the ocean Sunday and especially Monday.

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via GIPHY

If you’re playing soccer, softball, baseball, or golf…

Saturday’s forecast: Sports enthusiasts will enjoy a picture perfect Saturday and mainly dry Sunday.  Monday’s outings may need to be canceled or postponed with a high likelihood of at least some wet playing surfaces. There’s even a chance areas south of Boston become wet late in the day Sunday.

If you’re gardening…

The drought has gotten worse over the past seven days, and areas of extreme drought are also bigger. The best thing you can do as a gardener is to try to give the larger trees and shrubs some water.  Allowing a hose to slowly drip water around a plant is best. Please read my article about caring for you plants during the drought here.

If you’re running errands…

Plan on doing errands on Sunday or Monday if it’s feasible for you. Sunday will see an increase in clouds, and Monday looks to be at least very gray with possible steady rain.

If you’re going to a concert, outdoor party, or wedding…

There won’t be any issues with other outdoor events this weekend until later on Sunday and Monday. The rain shield may or may not penetrate very far north of the south coast. Keep checking my forecast for updates on the progress of Hermine all weekend.

I will be updating the forecast on Twitter @growingwisdom throughout the weekend.

How Tropical Storm Hermine could impact your weekend

September has arrived, and it’s bringing with it peak tropical activity.

A tropical storm named Hermine could impact many of your holiday weekend plans, though there are still numerous questions about the way this meteorological story will unfold. What I’m writing about now is based on the best information that’s currently available. This will change in another 12 hours, so it’s important to check the latest forecast throughout the weekend.

Projected track of Tropical Storm Hermine from NHC as of 8 a.m.Projected track of Tropical Storm Hermine from NHC as of 8 a.m. —NHC

The first thing to know: Any impacts from Hermine won’t move in until Sunday or even Monday.

There may be some cloudiness showing up on Saturday afternoon along the south coast, but there’s also a chance that the clouds hold off until Sunday.

Sunday and Monday are the days that will most likely be impacted by the storm here in Southern New England. (If you are headed north, expect less and less of any influence to the weather from the tropical storm beyond some clouds.) Our chances for rain showers will increase Sunday into Monday, with rain mostly likely on Monday, but still not definite.

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The American model brings the storm the farthest north; other models keep it farther south.

via GIPHY

The reason I can’t be more sure of the weather for Sunday and Monday is because of two meteorological variables. The first is high pressure over northern New England. The strength and exact configuration of this system will help determine how far north the rain and wind shield travel.

The second variable is the strength of Hermine itself. The storm could weaken over the weekend and end up just spinning off the mid-Atlantic coast and not bringing us much rain at all. It could also remain a bit stronger and move farther north, carrying a windswept rainstorm to part of the region. Not matter what happens, Cape Cod and the islands will see the worst weather Sunday and Monday.

The strength and positioning of high pressure north of New England will help determine the path of HermineThe strength and positioning of high pressure north of New England will help determine the path of Hermine. —NHC

The forecast for Sunday and Monday will become clearer later today and on Friday as the storm continues to develop.

We’ll get a better idea of how the steering current of the atmosphere will carry Hermine. At this point, I think it’s a good idea to plan on at least a cloudy finish to the weekend with possible rain.

Remember, we desperately need rain, and missing this opportunity would just allow the drought to develop even further. High pressure has been keeping us dry all summer, and now it might once again keep us from receiving some beneficial rain.

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One final note: I don’t see this as being anything more than a strong nor’easter type of storm in our area, even in the worse-case scenario. In other words, no need to stock up on bread and milk.

How Tropical Storm Hermine could impact your weekend

September has arrived, and it’s bringing with it peak tropical activity.

A tropical storm named Hermine could impact many of your holiday weekend plans, though there are still numerous questions about the way this meteorological story will unfold. What I’m writing about now is based on the best information that’s currently available. This will change in another 12 hours, so it’s important to check the latest forecast throughout the weekend.

Projected track of Tropical Storm Hermine from NHC as of 8 a.m.Projected track of Tropical Storm Hermine from NHC as of 8 a.m. —NHC

The first thing to know: Any impacts from Hermine won’t move in until Sunday or even Monday.

There may be some cloudiness showing up on Saturday afternoon along the south coast, but there’s also a chance that the clouds hold off until Sunday.

Sunday and Monday are the days that will most likely be impacted by the storm here in Southern New England. (If you are headed north, expect less and less of any influence to the weather from the tropical storm beyond some clouds.) Our chances for rain showers will increase Sunday into Monday, with rain mostly likely on Monday, but still not definite.

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The American model brings the storm the farthest north; other models keep it farther south.

via GIPHY

The reason I can’t be more sure of the weather for Sunday and Monday is because of two meteorological variables. The first is high pressure over northern New England. The strength and exact configuration of this system will help determine how far north the rain and wind shield travel.

The second variable is the strength of Hermine itself. The storm could weaken over the weekend and end up just spinning off the mid-Atlantic coast and not bringing us much rain at all. It could also remain a bit stronger and move farther north, carrying a windswept rainstorm to part of the region. Not matter what happens, Cape Cod and the islands will see the worst weather Sunday and Monday.

The strength and positioning of high pressure north of New England will help determine the path of HermineThe strength and positioning of high pressure north of New England will help determine the path of Hermine. —NHC

The forecast for Sunday and Monday will become clearer later today and on Friday as the storm continues to develop.

We’ll get a better idea of how the steering current of the atmosphere will carry Hermine. At this point, I think it’s a good idea to plan on at least a cloudy finish to the weekend with possible rain.

Remember, we desperately need rain, and missing this opportunity would just allow the drought to develop even further. High pressure has been keeping us dry all summer, and now it might once again keep us from receiving some beneficial rain.

Advertisement

One final note: I don’t see this as being anything more than a strong nor’easter type of storm in our area, even in the worse-case scenario. In other words, no need to stock up on bread and milk.

Are extreme weather events becoming the new norm?

The flooding in Louisiana. The fires burning parched land in California. Our own lack of rain this summer. It all begs the question: Is our weather becoming more extreme?

And what is extreme weather anyway? Superlative descriptions are nothing new, but they often don’t have any scientific basis. If I say there is extreme heat coming, what does that really mean? To some, extreme heat might be a day over 95 degrees, but is that really extreme?

To understand extreme weather, let’s look at a graph from the EPA. The graph shows a typical curve of weather variables, and the peak in the middle is where most weather occurs. These are typical days of warm and cold, average snow, average rain showers, etc.  The ends of the curve are the extreme events—the record cold and record heat, for example. I’ll revisit this chart later.

A typical curve has most weather occuring in the middle, with the extremes at either end.A typical curve has most weather occurring in the middle, with the extremes at either end. —EPA

As the climate has changed over the decades, the curve has shifted to the right into a warmer world.

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(It’s possible the planet would/could trend colder. During colder times, there would still be extreme heat, but not as much of it. However, during the past hundred plus years we’ve been trending warmer.)  As the climate warms, the frequency of extreme cold dissipates, but it isn’t zero.

We only need to go back to February 14, 2016, when the temperature in Boston started the day at 9 below zero and only reached 12. This was the coldest day since the 1950s and now stands as the coldest Valentine’s Day in Boston in the record books.  This period of cold after the mild start to the winter was likely responsible for wiping out much of the peach crop. That’s extreme stuff.

About five years ago, on July 22, 2011, the temperature in Boston reached 103. This was only a degree shy of the all-time record high of 104, set on July 4 100 years earlier in 1911.  Each of these events was certainly extreme.

Of course, there’s also this summer’s lack of rain. This is the driest period ever recorded in the four-month period from mid-April to mid-August.  This, less than two years after the most amount of snow ever recorded in Boston.

Are these types of extremes part of the changing climate? Can we expect them to become more frequent?

The answer to the question of whether or not climate change is bringing us more extreme weather is: It depends. To find the answer, we can look to a relatively new field of climatology and statistics called extreme event attribution.  Scientists perform studies where the results are probabilistic statements. In other words, it’s about odds. We can’t say a particular event or even a  snowy, dry, or cold season was caused by climate change; there are too many other factors at play. It’s not a cause-and-effect problem.

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What we can say, however, is that these events are made more likely by a changing climate, or that a particular event might be more extreme because of climate change. Further, events associated with more warmth, such as heat waves and drought, have a higher likelihood of occurring.

Figure: Global Hurricane Frequency (all & major) -- 12-month running sums. The top time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached at least hurricane-force (maximum lifetime wind speed exceeds 64-knots). The bottom time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached major hurricane strength (96-knots+). Adapted from Maue (2011) GRL.Figure: Global Hurricane Frequency (all & major) — 12-month running sums. The top time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached at least hurricane-force (maximum lifetime wind speed exceeds 64-knots). The bottom time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached major hurricane strength (96-knots+). Adapted from Maue (2011) GRL. —WeatherBell-Ryan Maue

Remember that chart from earlier? Predictions of a warmer world will shift the curve to the right. This makes colder records less likely while warmer ones become more frequent. Scientists are less able to connect other weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and big snowstorms, to climate change because those weather phenomena happen less frequently.

In a warmer world the extremes would be shifted in a warmer direction. Those associated with heat would become more frequent. Record cold would be seen less.In a warmer world the extremes would be shifted in a warmer direction. Those associated with heat would become more frequent. Record cold would be seen less. —EPA

While it may seem like we’ve seen our share of extremes here in New England over the past couple of years, many of the most extreme records still stand.

The wettest year remains 1878, when 65.53 inches of rain and melted snow fell. The coldest winter is still back in 1917-18, and the hottest summer was more than 30 years ago, in 1983. Although it’s been a dry spring and summer, the driest calendar year is still 1965, when only about 23.71 inches of rain fell. Of course, with a full third of the year left, that record could still be in jeopardy.

Weather is, by nature, extreme, and as such, some years or clusters of years can bring more extremes than others. We can observe periods with many extreme events followed by quieter times.  More research in the coming decades will help us understand what  the new normal is and help shape public policy.

Are extreme weather events becoming the new norm?

The flooding in Louisiana. The fires burning parched land in California. Our own lack of rain this summer. It all begs the question: Is our weather becoming more extreme?

And what is extreme weather anyway? Superlative descriptions are nothing new, but they often don’t have any scientific basis. If I say there is extreme heat coming, what does that really mean? To some, extreme heat might be a day over 95 degrees, but is that really extreme?

To understand extreme weather, let’s look at a graph from the EPA. The graph shows a typical curve of weather variables, and the peak in the middle is where most weather occurs. These are typical days of warm and cold, average snow, average rain showers, etc.  The ends of the curve are the extreme events—the record cold and record heat, for example. I’ll revisit this chart later.

A typical curve has most weather occuring in the middle, with the extremes at either end.A typical curve has most weather occurring in the middle, with the extremes at either end. —EPA

As the climate has changed over the decades, the curve has shifted to the right into a warmer world.

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(It’s possible the planet would/could trend colder. During colder times, there would still be extreme heat, but not as much of it. However, during the past hundred plus years we’ve been trending warmer.)  As the climate warms, the frequency of extreme cold dissipates, but it isn’t zero.

We only need to go back to February 14, 2016, when the temperature in Boston started the day at 9 below zero and only reached 12. This was the coldest day since the 1950s and now stands as the coldest Valentine’s Day in Boston in the record books.  This period of cold after the mild start to the winter was likely responsible for wiping out much of the peach crop. That’s extreme stuff.

About five years ago, on July 22, 2011, the temperature in Boston reached 103. This was only a degree shy of the all-time record high of 104, set on July 4 100 years earlier in 1911.  Each of these events was certainly extreme.

Of course, there’s also this summer’s lack of rain. This is the driest period ever recorded in the four-month period from mid-April to mid-August.  This, less than two years after the most amount of snow ever recorded in Boston.

Are these types of extremes part of the changing climate? Can we expect them to become more frequent?

The answer to the question of whether or not climate change is bringing us more extreme weather is: It depends. To find the answer, we can look to a relatively new field of climatology and statistics called extreme event attribution.  Scientists perform studies where the results are probabilistic statements. In other words, it’s about odds. We can’t say a particular event or even a  snowy, dry, or cold season was caused by climate change; there are too many other factors at play. It’s not a cause-and-effect problem.

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What we can say, however, is that these events are made more likely by a changing climate, or that a particular event might be more extreme because of climate change. Further, events associated with more warmth, such as heat waves and drought, have a higher likelihood of occurring.

Figure: Global Hurricane Frequency (all & major) -- 12-month running sums. The top time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached at least hurricane-force (maximum lifetime wind speed exceeds 64-knots). The bottom time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached major hurricane strength (96-knots+). Adapted from Maue (2011) GRL.Figure: Global Hurricane Frequency (all & major) — 12-month running sums. The top time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached at least hurricane-force (maximum lifetime wind speed exceeds 64-knots). The bottom time series is the number of global tropical cyclones that reached major hurricane strength (96-knots+). Adapted from Maue (2011) GRL. —WeatherBell-Ryan Maue

Remember that chart from earlier? Predictions of a warmer world will shift the curve to the right. This makes colder records less likely while warmer ones become more frequent. Scientists are less able to connect other weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and big snowstorms, to climate change because those weather phenomena happen less frequently.

In a warmer world the extremes would be shifted in a warmer direction. Those associated with heat would become more frequent. Record cold would be seen less.In a warmer world the extremes would be shifted in a warmer direction. Those associated with heat would become more frequent. Record cold would be seen less. —EPA

While it may seem like we’ve seen our share of extremes here in New England over the past couple of years, many of the most extreme records still stand.

The wettest year remains 1878, when 65.53 inches of rain and melted snow fell. The coldest winter is still back in 1917-18, and the hottest summer was more than 30 years ago, in 1983. Although it’s been a dry spring and summer, the driest calendar year is still 1965, when only about 23.71 inches of rain fell. Of course, with a full third of the year left, that record could still be in jeopardy.

Weather is, by nature, extreme, and as such, some years or clusters of years can bring more extremes than others. We can observe periods with many extreme events followed by quieter times.  More research in the coming decades will help us understand what  the new normal is and help shape public policy.

Here’s what the weather will be like for Allston Christmas

When you’re moving your stuff into a new building—double-parked with a couch sitting on the sidewalk and trying to lug a mattress up three flights of stairs—you don’t want it to be miserably hot and humid. You definitely don’t want it to rain. The good news for the many of you moving in or out this […]

How to help bees and give back to your community at the same time

Several years ago I watched The Bee Movie, (DreamWorks) an animated full-length feature staring the voices of Jerry Seinfeld, Renée Zellweger and Mathew Broderick to name a few of the stars.   I love the movie and the humor is fantastic, but the main point of the movie is to illustrate the importance of bees and how humans should care of these critical insects.

The Bee Movie (DreamWorks) has an important message about bees and their connection to the entire food chain

The Bee Movie (DreamWorks) has an important message about bees and their connection to the entire food chain

My passion for plants and their pollinators is powerful and extends back over 40 years. As an elementary school student, I began learning about the inner connections of the natural world and how the survival of the planet depends on the success of the individual pieces.

To help the bees, I am teaming up with the Bee Sanctuary, a non-profit program in collaboration with The Best Bees Company’s beekeeping services. In short summary, this is a sponsor-a-beehive program, where select corporations, family foundations, groups of individuals or individuals themselves may sponsor honey beehives.  The donation will allow full beekeeping management services throughout community gardens, schools, libraries, non-profits, farms, and low-income communities. This brings more pollinators to each area and with them more fruits, vegetables, and honey.  Bees are dying nationwide and this is a way to get more bees out there.

I now have been on my own property.

I now have bees on my own property.

We live in a time of the world when it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and frankly nearly impossible to make a difference.  Further, so many organizations can use your time, talent or treasure it’s hard to know who to help.

Philanthropy in itself isn’t something easily taught.  I donate my time to a couple of different organization and my treasure, what I can, to others.  Donating time or money or even your expertise is very personal.  Why each of us gives away something we have worked hard to achieve is unique to the each of us.

The feeling that I can make a positive chance in the world is intoxicating.  The very fact I am writing this blog, hoping someone will read it, get excited about the prospect of helping bring bees to an area, which otherwise could afford to raise them, is exhilarating.

In The Bee Movie, the flowers are all dying because the bees have decided to stop pollinating.  In the real world, bees are in danger of not doing their job not because they don’t want to, but because other factors, including what we humans are doing to our environment are harming this vital link to life as we know it.

Bees don't want to stop working, but we can harm their environment so they won't be able to do their work. (Image Credit:DreamWorks)

Bees don’t want to stop working, but we can harm their environment so they won’t be able to do their work. (Image Credit:DreamWorks)

The Bee Sanctuary 501(c)3 nonprofit program is a tool to help reverse the trend of bee losses.  It’s also a great way to give something back to those communities which don’t have the resources to do these things themselves.   It’s not overstating it to say donating the bees is a gift not only to the neighborhood it will benefit but more importantly to the planet we live as well.  Click here to learn more about the program.

 

 

 

 

Bees can be raised in almost any urban environment

Bees can be raised in almost any urban environment

Weekend weather: What you need to know for every activity you have planned

For thousands of students this is the final weekend of the year before school begins next week, and the weather looks fantastic. A cold front is passing through the area this morning. This is important to our weekend forecast as it will push the very humid air out to sea and take the clouds and any […]

It felt like fall this morning, but summer weather isn’t over by a long shot

Most of us awoke Tuesday morning to temperatures in the 50s, with readings in the upper 40s in the coldest spots. Even Boston’s low temperatures fell to around 60 degrees, giving us that feeling of fall. It felt autumnal because of both the cool temperatures and the very dry air. Low dew points in the 40s […]

This morning’s tornado in Concord, explained

A cold front — and an associated line of showers and storms — swept through the area early Monday morning, bringing briefly torrential rain to many areas in Massachusetts. This severe weather did spawn a tornado inside an area of very strong winds. The strongest part of the line of storms was in the Marlborough to […]