Mar 25, 2012: Colder Pattern; Little Rain In Sight

Forecast Highlights:

– Winter’s cold makes one last comeback
– Cold Monday night, lows drop into 20s for most
– Temperatures remain near average most of this week
– Concerns for drought conditions into the long range


Today’s Observations:

Cloudy skies continued across the area today with isolated showers observed, making today the first rain event for parts of the area since March 13, and the first widespread light rain event since March 8. Only light rain amounts fell today, generally up to 0.1 inch and locally up to 1/4 inch, with the area still well below the average March rainfall. Temperatures also ended up a few degrees colder than expected, with highs reaching the mid 50s to lower 60s north and west of NYC, and the upper 40s to lower 50s across Long Island and southern CT.

Throughout this entire so-called winter, the large scale pattern has been stuck in place with minor changes at times that failed to bring cold/snow into the area, keeping the region warmer than average with almost no snow. Now that winter has ended, the pattern is starting to change again, and the pattern developing is shaping up to be a colder one. Widespread lows in the 20s are expected on Monday night, with temperatures staying in the 50s to possibly low 60s for highs throughout this week. Despite the change to average temperatures instead of warmer-much warmer than average temperatures, the aspect of the pattern that still hasn’t changed is the precipitation; with today’s rain event producing very little rain, NYC is on track to record its driest or second driest March on record. The entire area, including nearly half of the Northeast, is already covered by a growing area of “D0”, or abnormally dry, conditions according to the US Drought Monitor, and while there is still plenty of time for the dry pattern to change, should this dry pattern continue, drought conditions may become a concern later on in the season.

Monday – Tuesday: Cold Returns, Freeze Expected

With a much colder air mass starting to move into the region, partly sunny skies are expected on Monday with windy conditions, with gusts up to 45 mph expected across the area. Temperatures are expected to remain nearly steady through the early afternoon in the lower to mid 40s inland and the upper 40s to lower 50s across the rest of the area, with temperatures dropping by the late afternoon.

The coldest temperatures will be on Monday night with clearing skies and a cold air mass in place. Temperatures will drop into the lower to mid 20s for most places north and west of NYC, with mid to upper 20s in NYC, its north/west suburbs, and closer to the coast. It is not out of the question that far NW NJ/SE NY drop below 20 degrees. With an unusually early start to the growing season this year, the cold will put some vegetation at risk.

Mainly sunny skies are expected for Tuesday with the cold air mass in place, with temperatures expected to remain colder than average. Highs will reach the mid 40s inland and the upper 40s across the rest of the area, getting close to 50 degrees near NYC.

Wednesday – Beyond: Still Chilly, Dry

The next low pressure will approach the area for Wednesday into Thursday, with cloudy skies expected again. Although the low pressure will track to the north of the area, the warmer temperatures will struggle to reach the area due to the cold still in place, with a brief warm up into the mid to upper 50s expected towards the evening hours west of NYC, possibly getting to 60 degrees near NYC. In fact, with the cold air mass ahead of the storm, parts of interior New England will see some light snow at the start of the storm before changing over to rain. For the NYC area, the storm will be in the form of scattered showers, with at least 0.1 inch of rain expected, possibly up to 1/4 inch or a little higher especially north of NYC. Scattered showers will continue into Wednesday night, with highs on Thursday reaching the mid to upper 50s across most of the area, getting close to 60 degrees again near NYC.

Temperatures for Friday and the weekend are expected to remain in the mid 50s for most of the area, reaching the upper 50s near the immediate NYC area, which is near the average temperatures for this time of the year. Some uncertainty returns into the forecast towards the Sunday-Monday time frame, when a low pressure is modeled to approach the region. Should the latest models end up correct with their handling of the cold air mass for the late week, this storm would not be likely to track too far north of the area; some models currently keep this suppressed, and those that do show the storm affecting the area show a cold rain, along with snow in parts of the interior Northeast. The smaller parts of the set up cannot be nailed down yet as this is still in the medium range, but the overall idea at this time is that a storm could affect the area around this time frame. Stay tuned for more information for the late weekend and early week outlook.

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