PLEASE CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST UPDATE ► A Sloppy, Slick Weekend Ahead For Maine
A Rough Weekend Ahead
Wind chill has been the talk for most of the week, and it arrives in earnest Friday. The good news is the Arctic Express will make a brief stop before moving out the region by the end of the weekend. Between now and then, it will be a bit of a challenge for even the heartiest, dye-in-the-wool Mainers.
While it will be nasty cold, the sun will be out to brighten the spirits. Outside of a few clouds early on for the High Peaks region, skies appear clear statewide. The wind from overnight settles down a bit, but it will still be an attention-getter. The pinks above on the map note the “feels like” temperatures. The idea of some shoreline areas reaching +10° may be a bit generous. The north & western mountains will do very well if the mercury reaches zero, with single digits as highs for the south and east. Wind out the northwest ranges in the 5-15 mph level with gusts near 25 mph at times before subsiding late Friday afternoon.
Clouds will increase Friday night as snow bears down on the region early Saturday. Lows Friday night appear to be a tad warmer than Thursday night’s lows, in fact, temperatures appear to hold steady by-in-large, with the shorelines seeing the thermometer tick up a bit at a southwesterly flow develops, which will bring in warmer air off the water.
A Snowy Saturday… Until Evening
If there has been one consistency in the weekend forecast, it is that all areas see snowfall. Given the deep cold of Friday, it will take awhile for the warm air to get the upper hand with this event. Guidance has more or less settled on a St. Lawrence River track, or just south. Since this type of track is known as a “Colorado Low” or an “inside runner” system, Maine ends up on the warm side of the event. With the deep cold slowly giving way to the warmer airflow off the ocean, this will help keep areas snow for much of the day.
With the cold firmly in place with highs in the single digits north to 20s at the coast, add the enhancement of ocean moisture, and snow to water ratios roughly 12:1, the state appears to receive several inches of fresh powder to the landscape. By Saturday afternoon, rain is likely to flirt with the immediate shorelines, which will knock accumulations down. It will take the storm moving closer to the state, as well as intensifying in order for wind to stir the cold air to move it. This begins late day Saturday for southern areas, and overnight for interior areas.
Freezing Rain Likely Saturday Night Into Sunday
With the bulk of the moisture appearing to fall as snow, the general forecast idea is for minor impacts from the freezing rain. As I mentioned in previous updates, color me skeptical that there will be enough wind to be able to wash the cold air out from the foothills, mountains, and the central and northern part of the state. Too many times forecasters have been bit by models fooling them into thinking the cold air is just going to get out the way and let warm air take over. The law of science: heat rises, cold air sinks. Given the terrain, I do expect the coastal plain to eventually turn to rain to end the event. How far inland the rain makes it is the big question mark, and it may not be determined until midday Sunday just how this is going to work out.
There are several schools of thought on how much ice accretion may happen. There is a reason to believe all areas away from the immediate shorelines will at least see trace ice. Given the amount of projected moisture that is predicted to fall during this time, I have a hard time believing there would be as much as the tenth of an inch of ice accretion. One of the more bullish models, the NAM, worries me a bit because it’s idea from this morning was for up to a quarter inch in the usual suspected locations (the foothills on up to Baxter State Park region) whereas others like this model idea here confines the icing to occur primarily in the north and mountains. I’ll be honest, I have been fretting on this for the past couple of days because as the storm exits Sunday afternoon, the northwest wind fires up once again by evening. Any areas that see a quarter inch of ice may have to deal with power outages if that idea becomes reality. My confidence in this part of the forecast continues to be low.
Given that rationale, high temperatures for Sunday are a bit of challenge. The GFS & European models are showing a discrepancy of as much as 15° – 20° between the maximum high and minimum low from Fort Kent to Kittery. When I see this much of a difference, red flags fly everywhere. I am still in the camp that this system will fool man-made guidance. To take a stab at it, the mountains and northern Maine may not break freezing, 30s for southern & eastern zones, and low to mid-40s for the shoreline towns & islands.
I will update again tomorrow.
~ Mike Haggett
Special thanks to Tropical Tidbits and Pivotal Weather for their written permission to use their graphics in this post. Use of WeatherTAP images used within their written permitted terms of media use policy. Additional forecast information supplied by the National Weather Service, WeatherBELL Analytics and AccuWeather Professional.
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