12-31-2018

Good morning!

2018 has been a crazy weather year all around, and on this New Year’s Eve, I am going to talk about how wild it was at the end of this post for those interested.

Today will get to around 40, with increasing clouds and a south wind near 5 mph. Tonight will feature a mix of rain and snow starting early, then changing to all rain a few hours before midnight.

2018’s “midnight moment” was very cold with temperatures below zero; that won’t happen tonight. Expect heavy rain and a temperature near – or more likely just below – 40 degrees as we cross into 2019. This weather line is virtually identical to the weather when we crossed into 2017 two years ago tonight. Winds will be southeast at 5-10 mph tonight, with gusts up to 20 mph and rain continuing through the night.

Rain will likely end by the first sunrise of 2019, giving way to decreasing clouds and a high around 52. Winds will be southwest at 10-20 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph possible. Tomorrow night will be mostly clear and 23, with winds turning northwest at 5-10 mph and gusting up to 20 mph.

weather 2018-12-31.001.jpeg

Wednesday will be mostly sunny and 32. Wednesday night will be mostly clear and 20. Thursday will feature increasing clouds and a high near 35, and cloudy skies Thursday night and a low around 29. Friday will feature a chance of a rain and snow mix in the morning, followed by a chance of rain, and a high around 43.

weather 2018-12-31.002.jpeg

Now for my long rambling about 2018 weather! The year began in a frigid manner, with an extreme cold snap from the last days of 2017 extending into the first days of 2018. We only got out of the worst of that pattern in the wake of a major winter storm that dropped 15.4″ of snow on January 4th. February featured a wild 5 day stretch during which we went from 8″ of fresh snow on the morning of Sunday, February 18 after an overnight snowstorm, to a 72 degree day on Tuesday, February 20, to an 80 degree day on Wednesday, February 21, and then back to around an inch of snow falling on Thursday, February 22. Other than those snow events, and a a few minor snowfalls in early February, the month was actually quite warm.

March was the opposite of warm: two snowstorms of well over a foot took place in a span of about a week. The first storm dumped around 15″ of heavy wet snowfall on the morning of March 8th. (The measurement was very difficult with this storm as snow compacted quickly during an overnight snowfall, but anywhere from 13 to 17 inches is an acceptable number to me with this stork.) This storm left 94% of Dracut without power for a few days, and the damage to trees and power lines was among the worst in this region in a very long time. Tree damage was visible for months from this storm. Not even a week later, on March 13 and 14, a fluffier snowstorm took place, giving us 27.3″ of snow; this was our largest storm since a 33.1″ snowfall in January 2015. All this meant that 50″ of the 100″ snow of last winter took place in March alone!

April was not very remarkable; just some more cold, including a cold rainstorm on Patriots’ Day during the Boston Marathon that led to my flight home from Washington, DC being delayed.

The summer was remarkable for its heat and humidity, with seemingly every day being in a soupy airmass — very often accompanied by temperatures in the 90s. On a more regional scale, it was an unusually active tornado season; this extended into October even as the summer heat finally escaped in late September. October and November were also remarkable for the constant rainfall – and, once we got into November – a quick start to the snow season.

It was as if the rain couldn’t stop this fall! Our first accumulating snowfall also was our first warning-level snowfall of the year, with 8″ falling on the night of November 15. Another 3″ fell a few days later, and then the snow machine shut off completely as Thanksgiving and the surrounding days were extremely cold. This remarkable cold then yielded to a relatively warm December with very little snow. It’s only snowed twice the entire month: the morning of December 18th yielded some very light non-measurable accumulation in a few patchy spots, while 0.2″ fell the morning of December 28th before very quickly changing to rain and melting rapidly thereafter. Assuming something very weird doesn’t take place tonight, even December 2015 will look better in the snow department than December 2018! This December with 0.2″ snow is pretty much on par with December 2014, which also had less than an inch of measurable snow. (For inquiring minds: December 2015 had 2.9″ of snow.)

The million dollar question now: what path will 2019 take? The first week of the year looks quiet, aside from a potential mix Friday morning turning to rain. Beyond that, there’s uncertainty as to how the rest of January plays out. This entire winter is more uncertain than usual. It could be quite snowy like much of this decade. It could also be relatively quiet in the snow department. Because of the volatility of this type of forecasting, I’m going to punt on an actual long-range forecast and just say enjoy the winter, no matter what happens. The snowless trends of December 2014 and 2015 gave way to two entirely different winters. We all know what went down from late January through March in 2015; we went from 13″ snow for the winter up until January 24 (cobbled together between a Thanksgiving storm and a few small events in early January) to 114″ for the whole winter, most of this having fallen by the end of February. The winter of 2014-15 was an extraordinary fluke in its nature, and such an event is extremely unlikely to happen in our lifetimes again, but an active timeframe is possible. On the other side, the rest of winter 2015-16 stayed fairly quiet, with no single storm reaching 9″ and a final total of 39″ – in large part thanks to two storms in 4 days that February. With all this talk about the winter and no forecast, I won’t even get into the rest of 2019 yet.

Have a great day and happy new year early!
-Nathan

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