Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Evening Update: Stormy, Interesting 24 Hours Vermont, Rest Of Northeast

A tree toppled by strong winds near Watertown, New York blocks
traffic Wednesday. Photo from Watertown Daily Times.  
If you live anywhere in the Northeast, you probably already noticed it's been an unpleasant day out there.

Here in Vermont where I live, it's raw, with drenching rain and occasionally gusty winds.

Over the next 24 hours, expect the weather to yo-yo all over the place as a series of fronts associated with a strong storm system sail through.

What's impressive about this storm system is the screamingly strong winds just above the surface, maybe a couple, few thousand feet up.

At times, atmospheric conditions will allow the strong winds to dip down to the surface, causing damaging winds in various locations.

That has already happened in a few places today, and that will continue tonight into tomorrow.

Here in Vermont, it's been really interesting today. A temperature inversion has kept the strong winds above us from coming down to the surface, except in a few locations and only occasionally.

Outside my house in St. Albans, Vermont, winds today beneath the inversion and in the drenching rains have been mostly under about 15 mph almost all of the time. But every once in awhile, maybe once every hour or two, we get a rogue gust to roughly 45 mph as the winds manage to break through the inversion.

A temperature inversion, which is cold air in the valleys and warm air aloft, acts as a lid preventing the strong winds aloft from penetrating the top of the cold air and making it into the valleys.

There are exceptions to this. Winds from the southeast are going up and over the Green Mountains, and up and over the northern Adirondacks of New York. When the wind gets to the peak of the mountains, it can grab some of those strong winds, and blast them down onto the valleys just to the west of the Green Mountains, and just to the northwest of the Adirondacks.

That's why gusts have been close to 50 mph on some of the western slopes of the Greens today, and may increase a little more tonight.  Sometimes, the strong winds struggle to break through the inversion, which explains the spotty but strong wind gusts outside my house today.

As warm air comes in overnight, the chances of some of those strong gusts will increase.

That massive surge of warm air  coming in ahead of an approaching cold front tonight is another slightly odd aspect of this storm.

As this surge of warm, humid air comes in and the winds continue to scream strongly a few thousand feet overhead, there's a minimal, but not zero chance of severe thunderstorms or even a brief tornado from southern New England down the coast to the Carolinas tonight.

It's been raw in New England today, but overnight, temperatures will rise through the 50s into the low 60s by dawn in some areas. A few record highs might be set in New England Thursday before the cold front crashes through.

There will probably be a break in the rain during the warm part of this storm system on Thursday.   A gusty line of showers and thunderstorms might accompany daybreak in southern New England.

Then the cold front blusters through during the day, and it means business!  It will probably be accompanied by a narrow band of showers or even thunderstorms, which will have a brief period of strong gusty winds with it.

Here in Vermont, temperatures will probably climb well into the 60s to low 70s before that band of gusty showers arrive, but then temperatures will probably fall by something like 20 degrees in an hour or so as the quick downpours and cold front pass through.

In other words, when you leave for work tomorrow, pack changes of clothes so you'd be ready for approximately 1,458.298 different kinds of weather on Thursday.

The band of strong showers, and the tumbling temperatures after it, will race into New Hampshire and Maine during the afternoon and evening.

After that, things settle down into the usual not that extreme pattern of temperatures and precipitation for the next few days.

By the way, this gusty, wet, strong storm we're getting now is partly energized by the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, which was briefly last week the strongest hurricane on record in the Northern Hemisphere as it spun off the Mexican coast.

I guess we're lucky we might get wind gusts in the 50 to 55 mph range, and not 200 mph, right everyone?

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