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April Brings Volatility Cutoff Lows Warmer Weather
April has a reputation for being a showery month as the old saying goes. It really is a month of conflict between the dying winter season and the accelerating warming occuring in the Northern Hemisphere. Temperatures start the month with highs in the mid to upper 50s and by the end of April, average highs are in the mid to upper 60s. Such a fast rise comes with a lot of noise including thunderstorms under certain conditions. The past several years we have seen colder air dominating to the point where it seemed winter was getting extended until early May. This year it seems that we might see something a bit more reasonable with spring gaining a foothold on time. This DOES NOT mean its sunshine with birds singing every day. It does mean we will be dealing with obstacles like the cold marine layer from the ocean which loves to make things raw and soupy often for days at a time.
Climate models like the one above are fun to look at but not always accurate. In a broad sense beginning today and for the next 6 weeks, this climate model suggests above average temperatures over the Northeast. Remember this doesn’t mean every single day it is in the 70s. It means when you average it all out, colder days and warmer days, we will be on the north side of average. Why will this be the case? When you look at the average jet stream pattern for April climate models suggest that there will be a ridge of high pressure aloft dominating the east and a trough of low pressure dominating in the west. This is the pattern for a warmer than average April.
Never smooth sailing, April is also known for cutoff lows. As the polar jet stream that brings cold air from Canada starts retreating and moving northward it leaves areas of cold air and low pressure behind. The southern end of systems tend to separate and “cutoff” from the normal west to east jet stream flow. They can result in low pressure systems that can park themselves over certain regions and they will sit there for days at a time before something comes along and moves them away.
This map of the upper air jet stream is for two weeks from now and is not a forecast but rather an illustration of what happens during the spring months. Sometimes you get luck and the cutoff lows area to your west and east and you are stuck in an area of nice weather and sunshine for days and days. It is a matter of location. There is a tendency for cutoff lows to impact the Northeast during the next 2 months with winds off the ocean and long periods of clouds and rain. Nothing in the short range weather outlook suggests this is about to happen but it is something we will be keeping an eye on in the coming weeks. Also we will watch for those lovely back door cold fronts that come down and shorten warmups as they turn the air to the northeast and east. This always makes for a rather dreary time when a pattern like that settles in.
The bottom line is look for warmer temperatures to gradually gain the upper hand though it will be a tough battle from time to time. At some point in June the ocean warms up enough to minimize the marine influence to a certain extent. In spite of obstacles, the atmosphere has always warmed in the spring eventually. This year it may come just a bit faster than what we have gotten used to in past years.
MANY THANKS TO TROPICAL TIDBITS FOR THE USE OF MAPS
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