Northeast Weather Blog

Showers/storms south, pleasant north

By: sullivanweather, 9:06 AM GMT on May 31, 2009






Fig.2 - USDA plant hardiness zone map of the eastern United States circa 1990. Credit: USDA

Garden Series

Blog 1: Planning the Garden


Blog 2: Cool season crops


Blog 3: Companion Planting


Blog 4: Container Gardening


Blog 5: Warm Season Crops(1)


___________________________________________________________

Soil Conditions

**Please note**
These soil condition charts are self-updating and occasionally display corrupted data (more often than not lately).


Soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm
Soil moisture 0-200cm
Fig.3 - Weekly averaged soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature 0-10cm
Soil temperature 0-10cm
Fig.4 - 6-hourly updated 0-10cm soil temperature. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature and anomalies 10-40cm
Soil temperature 10-40cm
Fig.5 - Weekly updated 10-40cm soil temperature and anomalies. Credit: NOAA


Kelvin temperature scale
273.15°K = 0°C


___________________________________________________________



**Updated with data to May 31st**


Julian Day 145

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,873,594……..……….-36,094
2004 – 11,375,313……..……….-1,406
2005 – 11,652,031……..……….-51,875
2006 – 11,270,781……..……….-53,750
2007 – 11,500,781………………-70,938
2008 – 11,674,375………..…….-22,813
2009 – 11,739,063………..…….-99,218

-------

Julian Day 146

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,799,688……..……….-73,906
2004 – 11,355,313……..……….-20,000
2005 – 11,583,906……..……….-68,125
2006 – 11,216,094……..……….-54,687
2007 – 11,438,125………………-62,656
2008 – 11,625,938………..…….-48,437
2009 – 11,669,531………..…….-69,532

-------

Julian Day 147

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,720,313……..……….-79,375
2004 – 11,351,875……..……….-3,438
2005 – 11,519,844……..……….-64,062
2006 – 11,179,531……..……….-36,563
2007 – 11,401,563………………-36,562
2008 – 11,586,250………..…….-39,688
2009 – 11,624,375………..…….-45,156

-------

Julian Day 148

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,689,844……..……….-30,469
2004 – 11,364,688……..……….+12,813
2005 – 11,455,000……..……….-64,844
2006 – 11,145,156……..……….-34,375
2007 – 11,398,906………………-2,657
2008 – 11,534,531………..…….-51,719
2009 – 11,586,719………..…….-37,656


-------

Julian Day 149

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,646,250……..……….-43,594
2004 – 11,362,500……..……….-2,188
2005 – 11,389,375……..……….-65,625
2006 – 11,104,531……..……….-40,625
2007 – 11,368,750………………-30,156
2008 – 11,497,031………..…….-37,500
2009 – 11,552,656………..…….-34,063


-------

Julian Day 150

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,611,719……..……….-34,531
2004 – 11,340,625……..……….-21,875
2005 – 11,340,156……..……….-49,219
2006 – 11,058,594……..……….-45,937
2007 – 11,307,188………………-61,562
2008 – 11,490,156………..…….-6,875
2009 – 11,478,125………..…….-74,531


-------

Julian Day 151

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,578,438……..……….-33,281
2004 – 11,325,313……..……….-15,312
2005 – 11,270,156……..……….-70,000
2006 – 11,009,375……..……….-49,219
2007 – 11,258,594………………-48,594
2008 – 11,448,750………..…….-41,406
2009 – 11,398,125………..…….-80,000

-------


Sea-ice notes this week:

·As expected, 2009 slipped into 2nd on the JAXA AMSR-E time series on May 23rd. 2003 is now the highest daily extent over the last 7 years, 71,407km^2 higher than 2009, for Julian Day 144.

·With continuous 24 daylight now over much of the arctic snowcover on the ice will melt into ponds, supported by the ice below. These melt ponds are sometimes mistakenly processed as open water on the current processing algorithm. On June 1st, in recent years, the JAXA AMSR-E data shows a jump in sea-ice extent on/around this date. This is due to a change in the processing algorithm to account for these melt ponds as ice covered.

·Over the last 9 days the average decline in extent has been 67,014km^2. This is a highest rate of decline for the same 9 days in any of the last 7 years and far exceeds the runner-up, 2008, which saw an average rate of decline of 60,503km^2 over the period.

·Ice-melt through the end of May should be strong in Baffin Bay and especially so along the Labrador Coast, where much of the ice left will be eroded by the 30th and 31st as warm air and moist southeasterly winds move into this region. Sea-ice melt will be less than average over the Barents Sea and the Bering/Chukchi Seas as cold air moves down from the high arctic due to a developing low pressure over mainland Alaska. Meanwhile, the consolidated area of ice Sea of Okhotsk will begin to fracture and break up. There may also be increasing fracturing of ice in the Kara Sea as warmer temperatures spread over this region during the next 3 days.


Extent difference


Fig.6 - Difference in sea-ice extent between 2009 and recent years.



Melt Rate


Fig.7 - 2009(blue) daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2008(red).

-------


Fig.8 - 2009(blue) daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2007(magenta).

*Data retrieved from JAXA


___________________________________________________________




Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.9 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

--------

Forecast Discussion


Synopsis - Issued - 5/31 @5:10am


A vigorous shortwave trough will rocket through the Northeast today setting off showers and thunderstorms, some of which may be severe. An anomalously cold airmass will blast into the region following the passage of the trough with widespread frost and freezing conditions expected over much of upstate New York and western New England. The airmass moderates considerably by Monday as the flow shifts from the west in advance of an approaching trough. This will be the first of several shortwave disturbances to move along an increasingly baroclinic environment from the Mid-Mississippi Valley region, through the Ohio Valley to southern New England. By weeks’ end the Hudson Bay low responsible to the recent string of cold air outbreaks will once again flex its muscles as troughing digs into the Upper Midwest and heads east. Southward shifted and anomalously strong jet stream over the Great Lakes and Northeast could lead to a significant severe weather outbreak next weekend.


Short-term - Issued - 5/31 @5:10am


Showers, some with a rumble or two of thunder, are traversing western and central New York out ahead of an approaching trough of low pressure. These should persist during the overnight hours and continue pushing east into the northern Catskills and Mohawk Valley by daybreak. The remainder of the region is precipitation free with mainly clear skies over much of New England. High cloudiness extends over much of central and eastern Pennsylvania as a shield of cirrus spreads north and east from MCS activity entering western Virginia. Across northern New York and Vermont mid/high levels clouds will increase towards daybreak in advance of the trough. Temperatures will begin the day in the 40’s across much of interior New York and New England with 50’s across Pennsylvania and the coastal plain.

The last weekend of May will close with quite an active day of weather for the Northeast. An anomalously strong mid/upper level low will race through northern New York and New England today. In fact, this afternoon the lowest 500mb heights in North America will be located just along the US/Canadian border of only some 528dm! Intense vorticity advection in addition to the rapid movement of the shortwave will provide strong forcing out ahead of this system to support the development of several lines of showers and thunderstorms. A dynamically favorable upper atmosphere will also be present, with a coupled jet structure in place during the afternoon hours, each with 100kt+ jet streaks. On the downside, the atmosphere isn’t particularly moist with surface dewpoints in the upper 40s to low 50’s and precipitable water values barely cracking three-quarters of an inch in the ribbon of moisture preceding the front. However, given the cold, dry airmass that will be moving into the region, the current moisture present should be more than sufficient. Once storms get going they may quickly become severe. 850mb winds will be in the 30-35kt range with 500mb winds in the 60-65kt range, yielding 30-40kts of effective shear. This should organize storms into bowing line segments capable of damaging winds. In addition to the high wind threat, freezing levels will be quite low, in the 6-7,000asl range as convection moves through across the north and 8-9,000asl across the south. Hail over 1” in diameter may occur in a few of the stronger cells. The highest concentration of storms will be across central and northern New England with more cellular and isolated activity south of the NY/PA border and across southern New England where the atmosphere will be drier, displaced to the south of the core of the disturbance. The airmass behind the cold front, as mentioned, will be anomalously cold. 850mb temps fall to -3°C to -6°C by evening across northern New York and Vermont with snow levels dropping to ~2,500’! Any leftover precipitation across the higher terrain may coat the summits with a light accumulation of snow. Something to look out for if you live surrounding Mt.Marcy or Mt.Mansfield on the first morning of meteorological summer! There will be a wide range of temperatures across the region today. Across the southern tier of Pennsylvania and the coastal plain temperatures should easily make it into the 70’s under bright sunshine for much of the day. As one heads further inland, closer to the core of colder air, the temperatures will drop off dramatically. 60’s will do for the northern tier of Pennsylvania, interior southern New York and interior New England. Further northwest into upstate New York and Vermont temperatures will likely remain stuck in the 50’s and may actually fall after noon into the 40’s and even 30’s in the higher terrain as strong cold air advections ensues. It will also be quite blustery behind the front as good momentum transfer of winds in the boundary layer to the surface will result in 20-30mph winds with higher gusts, especially across elevated terrain above 2,000’.

The cold front blasts offshore tonight with northwesterly winds delivering much colder and drier air to the Northeast. Showers and a few storms may begin the period over Maine but these will quickly be swept offshore by the front. Orographic lift in cyclonic flow may yield a few rain showers or even some snow showers across the higher terrain of northern Vermont and New Hampshire during the first half of the overnight before the atmosphere become too dry to support precipitation. Weak high pressure will slide across Pennsylvania during the overnight allowing winds to become light under the clear skies and dry atmosphere. These ideal radiational cooling conditions will lead to the development of frost across northern Pennsylvania, much of upstate New York and western New England. The normally colder locations across sheltered valleys where cold air drainage is maximized, temperatures will even dip below freezing for a couple hours just before daybreak. The growing season is many weeks old across the region and the late nature of the upcoming frosty weather may have consequences for the agriculture industry and home gardeners. Low temperatures in the above mentioned areas will fall into the upper 20’s to mid 30’s. The presence of winds across the remainder of New England will inhibit any frost development but it will be quite brisk and wind chills, yes wind chills, will likely fall into the 20’s and 30’s as lows dip into the mid 30’s to mid 40’s from north to south. Along the coastal plain and across the southern tier of Pennsylvania, the airmass will be considerably warmer, but still below normal for the first morning of June. Lows will bottom out in the mid 40’s to low 50’s, warmest in the urban centers and along the immediate coast.

A sunny start to the morning across much of the region will quickly give way to advancing mid/high level cloudiness as another rapidly moving shortwave heads into the Great Lakes region. Temperatures will quickly recover from their chilly, some cases, frosty, start but as clouds move in that rise will be capped, especially across upstate New York where clouds are expected to be the thickest. Further south and east, the cloud cover will be less extensive and the moderating airmass will actually make for a stunning day, with low humidity levels and temperatures in the mid 60’s to lower 70’s. Under the cloud canopy temperatures will only rise into the 50’s and 60’s.

Precipitation from the weakening shortwave moving into the region from the Great Lakes will begin Monday night, mainly across the northwestern portions of the region, around the lake shores of Erie and Ontario. Will need to keep an eye on any MCS development in the warm sector south of the front that may sneak into western Pennsylvania, but these chances are rather low. Elsewhere across the region skies will be partly to mostly cloudy helping to keep temperatures mild during the overnight, in some cases, up to 30 degrees higher than the night previous. Lows will range from the 40’s over northern New York and New England to the 50’s across much of the remainder of the region. The urban centers and along the coast temperatures may even hold in the low 60’s.



Mid-term - Issued - 5/31 @5:10am

The building of heights over the Southeast due to the western extension of the Bermuda High combined with the unrelenting Hudson Bay low spinning in place over eastern Canada will yield a strengthening west-east flow over the eastern half of the United States along with a steepening baroclinic environment during the midweek period. A couple of shortwaves will move along this west-east boundary spawning showers and thunderstorms. Though difficult to time at this juncture, the best chances for precipitation appear to be Tuesday night and Wednesday late afternoon into the overnight. Temperatures are expected to be below normal across the north with near to slightly above normal temperatures across the south.


Long-term - Issued - 5/31 @5:10am


The midweek pattern quickly breaks down as the Bermuda high pulls back east and a trough sharpens across the center of the country. Another rather potent shortwave is expected to rotate down from northern Canada and become incorporated into the westerlies, forming low pressure over the Northern Plains Thursday, moving to the Great Lakes by Friday. This buckling of the jet stream will allow warm moist air to flow north from the Gulf, eventually making it into the Northeast leading to a warm and humid Friday with the chance for scattered diurnal convection. The cold front associated with the low looks to come through the Northeast on Saturday. With the warm, moist airmass in place out ahead of the front and stronger winds aloft it would not be surprising to see a widespread severe weather outbreak. This situation will be monitored throughout the week as we draw closer to the potential event.

Deep trough settles over the eastern half of the nation behind the cold front for the second half of next weekend. Temperatures will once again dip well below normal as the 850mb 0°C isotherm may once again make a visit into the Northeast. This cool weather may persist into the beginning of the following week.


___________________________________________________________


Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.10 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


___________________________________________________________

Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.11 Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


___________________________________________________________



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Updated: 8:57 AM GMT on June 02, 2009

Permalink

Warm front to bring rain, some thunder

By: sullivanweather, 11:53 AM GMT on May 24, 2009





Fig.2 - USDA plant hardiness zone map of the eastern United States circa 1990. Credit: USDA

Garden Series

Blog 1: Planning the Garden


Blog 2: Cool season crops


Blog 3: Companion Planting


Blog 4: Container Gardening


Blog 5: Warm Season Crops(1)


___________________________________________________________

Soil Conditions

**Please note**
These soil condition charts are self-updating and occasionally display corrupted data (more often than not lately).


Soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm
Soil moisture 0-200cm
Fig.3 - Weekly averaged soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature 0-10cm
Soil temperature 0-10cm
Fig.4 - 6-hourly updated 0-10cm soil temperature. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature and anomalies 10-40cm
Soil temperature 10-40cm
Fig.5 - Weekly updated 10-40cm soil temperature and anomalies. Credit: NOAA


Kelvin temperature scale
273.15°K = 0°C


___________________________________________________________



**Updated with data to May 26th**


Julian Day 140

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,006,250……..……….-38,750
2004 – 11,560,938……..……….-64,375
2005 – 11,984,219……..……….-42,344
2006 – 11,524,688……..……….-35,156
2007 – 11,810,156………………-42,188
2008 – 11,871,875………..…….-127,188
2009 – 12,096,250………..…….-1,094

-------

Julian Day 141

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,958,750……..……….-47,500
2004 – 11,498,125……..……….-62,813
2005 – 11,932,969……..……….-51,250
2006 – 11,496,406……..……….-28,282
2007 – 11,755,313………………-54,843
2008 – 11,777,500………..…….-94,375
2009 – 12,054,219………..…….-42,031

-------

Julian Day 142

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,933,281……..……….-25,469
2004 – 11,439,219……..……….-58,906
2005 – 11,865,156……..……….-67,813
2006 – 11,425,781……..……….-70,625
2007 – 11,709,063………………-46,250
2008 – 11,748,281………..…….-29,219
2009 – 11,977,500………..…….-76,719

-------

Julian Day 143

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,925,313……..……….-7,968
2004 – 11,403,906……..……….-35,313
2005 – 11,790,156……..……….-75,000
2006 – 11,371,250……..……….-54,531
2007 – 11,641,875………………-67,188
2008 – 11,728,281………..…….-20,000
2009 – 11,908,906………..…….-68,594

-------

Julian Day 144

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,909,688……..……….-15,625
2004 – 11,376,719……..……….-27,187
2005 – 11,703,906……..……….-86,250
2006 – 11,324,531……..……….-46,719
2007 – 11,571,719………………-70,156
2008 – 11,697,188………..…….-31,039
2009 – 11,838,281………..…….-70,625

-------

Julian Day 145

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,873,594……..……….-36,094
2004 – 11,375,313……..……….-1,406
2005 – 11,652,031……..……….-51,875
2006 – 11,270,781……..……….-53,750
2007 – 11,500,781………………-70,938
2008 – 11,674,375………..…….-22,813
2009 – 11,739,063………..…….-99,218

-------

Julian Day 146

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 11,799,688……..……….-73,906
2004 – 11,355,313……..……….-20,000
2005 – 11,583,906……..……….-68,125
2006 – 11,216,094……..……….-54,687
2007 – 11,438,125………………-62,656
2008 – 11,625,938………..…….-48,437
2009 – 11,669,531………..…….-69,532



Sea-ice notes this week:

·As expected, 2009 slipped into 2nd on the JAXA AMSR-E time series on May 23rd. 2003 is now the highest daily extent over the last 7 years, 71,407km^2 higher than 2009, for Julian Day 144.

·With continuous 24 daylight now over much of the arctic snowcover on the ice will melt into ponds, supported by the ice below. These melt ponds are sometimes mistakenly processed as open water on the current processing algorithm. On June 1st, in recent years, the JAXA AMSR-E data shows a jump in sea-ice extent on/around this date. This is due to a change in the processing algorithm to account for these melt ponds as ice covered.

·Over the last 9 days the average decline in extent has been 67,014km^2. This is a highest rate of decline for the same 9 days in any of the last 7 years and far exceeds the runner-up, 2008, which saw an average rate of decline of 60,503km^2 over the period.

·Ice-melt through the end of May should be strong in Baffin Bay and especially so along the Labrador Coast, where much of the ice left will be eroded by the 30th and 31st as warm air and moist southeasterly winds move into this region. Sea-ice melt will be less than average over the Barents Sea and the Bering/Chukchi Seas as cold air moves down from the high arctic due to a developing low pressure over mainland Alaska. Meanwhile, the consolidated area of ice Sea of Okhotsk will begin to fracture and break up. There may also be increasing fracturing of ice in the Kara Sea as warmer temperatures spread over this region during the next 3 days.


Extent difference


Fig.6 - Difference in sea-ice extent between 2009 and recent years.



Melt Rate


Fig.7 - 2009(blue) daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2008(red).

-------


Fig.8 - 2009(blue) daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2007(magenta).

*Data retrieved from JAXA


___________________________________________________________




Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.9 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

--------

Forecast Discussion


Synopsis - Issued - 5/24 @7:50am


A cold front will drop through the Northeast today, sparking off scattered showers and thunderstorms, some of which may be severe. Cool, dry Canadian high pressure builds down behind this front giving New Englanders another frosty pair of mornings while the remainder of the region sees fair skies as the front settles down to the Mid-Atlantic. This feature will return north as a warm front Tuesday and Wednesday spreading precipitation back across the Northeast. These precipitation chances continue into the end of the week as the low pressure that moved out of the Gulf over the weekend finally makes it way to the Northeast on Thursday, ahead of a northern stream trough slated to come through on Friday. High pressure may return to dry things out for next weekend.


Short-term - Issued - 5/24 @7:50am


A cold front currently over southern Canada will push southeastward, into the Northeast today. This front is marked by a steadier area of rainfall extending from the northern shores of Lake Ontario to the western Adirondacks. There’s also some scattered thundershowers along a broken line extending from northwestern Pennsylvania to the Finger Lakes region of New York. Along the coastal plain scattered thunderstorms have been firing up thanks to a weak mid-level disturbance passing overhead and low-level convergence boundaries leftover from overnight convection. Otherwise skies are mostly cloudy area-wide with temperatures near 60°F across the southern half of the region with 50’s across the north.

Sunshine will struggle to penetrate the cloud cover over the region but enough will make it through to modestly destabilize the atmosphere. By late morning mlCAPE values should range from the 500-1,200J/kg range ahead of the front. The region will also come under the favorable dynamics of the right rear quad of a developing 120kt jet streak over New England, fairly impressive for late May. Thundershowers marking the pre-frontal trough ahead of the actual front should intensify as diurnal heating increases during the morning hours with additional cells firing along this broken line by noon. Speed shear of 35-40kts should organize storms into line segments with the potential for damaging straight-line winds but the flow below 5,000ft will be fairly light, thus a widespread severe wind event isn’t expected with any damage limited to isolated areas. Freezing levels will be coming down below 10,000ft by late afternoon making increasing the threat for pea to marble-sized hail, especially in any storms to develop along the actual cold front, closer to the pocket of colder air aloft. Precipitable water values will range from the inch to inch and a half range so heavy downpours will be likely but the fairly dry ground should handle this moisture without much problems aside from isolated areas of eastern Pennsylvania and the Catskills of New York which saw 2-4 inches of rain in slow-moving thunderstorms on Saturday. With the clouds limiting the sunshine and a colder airmass moving in behind the front, temperatures won’t rise far from their morning readings. 60’s should do across much of the northern half of the region with low to mid 70’s across the south.

The front will continue to press south and east through the evening pushing convection into southern New Jersey and offshore all points north. Behind the front skies will clear and the air will be noticeably drier as high pressure builds south. The combination of clear skies and light winds towards daybreak may allow for frost formation across far northern New England. Elsewhere across the Northeast it will be superb sleeping weather for city dwellers and a chilly night for Memorial Day campers. Only a few clouds and perhaps a scattered shower or two will extend along the Mason-Dixon line in the southern portions of the region. Lows will drop into the 30’s across the far north with 40’s most everywhere else across the interior. Along the coastal plain and across the southern tier of Pennsylvania temperatures will fall into the 50’s.

High pressure will be in control during the day on Monday for most areas. The only exception being extreme southern New Jersey in the Cape May area where the front will hang up close enough to the general vicinity to keep clouds and showers around the area. Elsewhere skies will be mostly sunny with some fair weather cumulus clouds over the terrain. Decent mixing should bring down a 15-20kt flow over New England increasing the fire threat in the very dry airmass but vegetation has now taken hold and recent precipitation will make for less than ideal ground conditions for fire. Highs will be on the cool side, some 5-10 degrees below normal, with 50’s across northern New England transitioning to the 60’s across much of the remainder of the interior. 70’s will be found along the urban corridor from Philadelphia to New York to Boston and across the southern tier of Pennsylvania as well as the Hudson and Connecticut River valleys.

Another clear cool night is in store for the northern half of the region Monday night while clouds and precipitation increase from the south across New Jersey and Pennsylvania as the weekend cold front lifts back to the north as a warm front. Under the dome of high pressure, ideal radiational cooling will allow temperatures to plummet during the overnight. By daybreak lows across northern Maine and some of the sheltered valleys of northern New York, Vermont and New Hampshire may drop into the upper 20’s! Elsewhere across this region temperatures will still fall into the frosty low to mid 30’s. South of I-90 the frost threat will be nearly non-existent with lows expected to be in the 40’s while across the southern half of the region where clouds will be increasing lows will only fall into the 50’s.


Mid-term - Issued - 5/24 @7:50am

As the warm front lifts north Tuesday and Wednesday moisture will greatly increase with the front serving as a focusing mechanism to produce precipitation. High pressure will slowly transition offshore but won’t move very far offshore. This will act to slow the front’s northward movement creating the potential for up to 1-2 inches of rain with this feature, with locally higher amounts where convection lingers. Aloft, the nose of a 30-40kt low level jet, advecting air with origins from the sub-tropics, will meet the warm front over the region making for fairly efficient rainfall production. The rain will be focused on the southern half of the region on Tuesday, moving into the central parts of the region on Wednesday with much of northern New England escaping most of the precipitation until showers arrive late in the day on Wednesday. The southern half of the region, under the humid airmass, will see near to slightly above normal daytime temps with much above normal temps at night. Meanwhile to the north, in the cooler, drier airmass, temperatures will run below normal until Wednesday night when clouds bring temperatures back to normal.


Long-term - Issued - 5/24 @7:50am


Low pressure will move through the Northeast on Thursday, continuing the wet pattern. This area of low pressure has a long history, developing on the tail end of the strong front that moved into the Gulf of Mexico early last week, the same front that brought a widespread freeze to the Northeast last Monday morning. Low pressure developed along the southern tip of the front off the southwest coast of Florida and interacted with an area of disturbed weather moving north out of the Caribbean into the Bahamas, drawing deeper tropical moisture into the system and an upper level trough cut-off from the main flow over the Southeast. Encountering dry air and shear in the Gulf, the low struggled to acquire organization into a tropical cyclone, and ultimately failed before coming ashore the Gulf Coast this weekend. This low is now crossing the Mississippi into Arkansas spreading a shield of rain into the Mid-Mississippi Valley with what can be best described as ‘feeder bands’ rotating through Alabama. This low will take the long route getting here, moving as far west as western Missouri before encountering the westerlies and swept eastward ahead of a northern stream trough dipping into the Great Lakes, a full five days after ‘making landfall’.
Deep, almost tropical, moisture will be in place over the region ahead of the arrival of this low. At this point clouds look to limit heating potential and winds aloft aren’t strong at all, lessening the convective threat, but low-level convergence with the area of low pressure moving through along with the now stationary front over northern New England, the threat remains for heavy rainfall. In fact, 570dm thicknesses penetrate into the southern half of the region indicating a fairly thick warm cloud layer, hi-lighting the heavy rain threat. This low will exit the coast by Friday as a northern stream trough acts as the kicker. There may be some scattered showers or storms along this front as it blows by, but the precipitation threat should end with its passage as a much cooler and drier airmass arrives to open next weekend. Once again, frost may develop across northern New England in the wake of the front but a pronounced moderating trend will develop during the second half of the weekend into the following week as southwesterly flow develops over the eastern half of the nation.




___________________________________________________________


Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.10 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


___________________________________________________________

Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.11 Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


___________________________________________________________



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Updated: 8:33 AM GMT on May 28, 2009

Permalink

Spring again!

By: sullivanweather, 10:18 AM GMT on May 18, 2009





Fig.2 - USDA plant hardiness zone map of the eastern United States circa 1990. Credit: USDA

Garden Series

Blog 1: Planning the Garden


Blog 2: Cool season crops


Blog 3: Companion Planting


Blog 4: Container Gardening


Blog 5: Warm Season Crops(1)


___________________________________________________________

Soil Conditions


Soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm
Soil moisture 0-200cm
Fig.3 - Weekly averaged soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature 0-10cm
Soil temperature 0-10cm
Fig.4 - 6-hourly updated 0-10cm soil temperature. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature and anomalies 10-40cm
Soil temperature 10-40cm
Fig.5 - Weekly updated 10-40cm soil temperature and anomalies. Credit: NOAA


Kelvin temperature scale
273.15°K = 0°C


___________________________________________________________





Julian Day 134

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,246,719……..……….-26,250
2004 – 11,825,313……..……….-46,093
2005 – 12,129,375……..……….-15,156
2006 – 11,785,781……..……….-13,282
2007 – 11,985,469………………-23,594
2008 – 12,285,625………..…….-23,906
2009 – 12,473,125………..…….-37,500

-------

Julian Day 135

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,209,688……..……….-37,031
2004 – 11,775,000……..……….-50,313
2005 – 12,108,750……..……….-20,625
2006 – 11,754,688……..……….-31,093
2007 – 11,950,625………………-34,844
2008 – 12,241,719………..…….-43,906
2009 – 12,441,406………..…….-31,719

-------

Julian Day 136

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,169,375……..……….-40,313
2004 – 11,726,250……..……….-48,750
2005 – 12,079,063……..……….-29,687
2006 – 11,685,781……..……….-68,907
2007 – 11,905,313………………-45,312
2008 – 12,182,188………..…….-59,531
2009 – 12,389,375………..…….-52,031

-------

Julian Day 137

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,144,219……..……….-25,156
2004 – 11,680,938……..……….-45,312
2005 – 12,058,438……..……….-20,625
2006 – 11,618,438……..……….-67,343
2007 – 11,885,781………………-19,532
2008 – 12,133,594………..…….-48,594
2009 – 12,305,156………..…….-84,219

-------

Julian Day 138

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,106,094……..……….-38,120
2004 – 11,669,063……..……….-11,875
2005 – 12,033,438……..……….-25,000
2006 – 11,592,656……..……….-25,782
2007 – 11,878,906………………-6,785
2008 – 12,088,750………..…….-44,844
2009 – 12,213,281………..…….-91,875

-------

Julian Day 139

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,045,000……..……….-61,094
2004 – 11,625,313……..……….-43,750
2005 – 12,026,563……..……….-6,875
2006 – 11,559,844……..……….-32,812
2007 – 11,852,344………………-26,562
2008 – 11,999,063………..…….-89,687
2009 – 12,097,344………..…….-115,937

-------

Julian Day 140

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,006,250……..……….-38,750
2004 – 11,560,938……..……….-64,375
2005 – 11,984,219……..……….-42,344
2006 – 11,524,688……..……….-35,156
2007 – 11,810,156………………-42,188
2008 – 11,871,875………..…….-127,188
2009 – 12,096,250………..…….-1,094

-------

Sea-ice notes this week:

·2008, which has been runner-up to 2009 in the JAXA time series since Julian Day 129, sees a drop in extent of over 400,000km^2 over the next 5 days, bringing 2008 to 4th place, behind 2003 and 2005, by Julian Day 141.

·2005 has a remarkably slow melt rate for the 10-day period of 5/12-5/21 with an average daily decline of only 20,016km^2, however, the following 10 day period from 5/22-5/31 the melt rate jumps to 59,500km^2. The average daily melt rate for 2005 from May 1st through June 30th is 50,089km^2.

·The melt rate for May 2009 through the first 16 days of the month is 46,250km^2. If this rate continues over the next week by May 23rd 2009 may slip into 2nd place behind 2003 for the first time since April 16th. However, current model runs show a pattern developing over the sub-arctic unfavorable for large drops in daily extent beginning mid-week with below normal temperatures and cloudy skies expected over the Barents and Labrador Seas.




Extent difference


Fig.6 - Difference in sea-ice extent between 2009 and recent years.



Melt Rate


Fig.7 - 2009(blue) daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2008(red).

-------


Fig.8 - 2009(blue) daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2007(magenta).

*Data retrieved from JAXA


___________________________________________________________




Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.9 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

--------

Forecast Discussion


Synopsis - Issued - 5/18 @6:15am


The week will begin quite chilly and even frosty, for many locales from the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey and eastern Long Island to the Hudson and Connecticut Valleys. Many of the normally colder locations throughout the interior will even see temperatures dip into the mid 20’s both this morning and Tuesday morning. Beyond Tuesday a significant pattern change is in store as it begins to look quite summer-like for a good portion of the country. Strong H5 ridging will build east from the Four Corners/Intermountain region to the Ohio Valley/Mid-Atlantic region by Thursday. Broad southwesterly flow will develop in the return flow around this ridge pushing a warm front through the Northeast Wednesday and Wednesday night. By Thursday much of the Northeast will be experiencing summer-like warmth with temperatures running 10-15 degrees above normal. Also in the cards may be a developing sub-tropical system around the vicinity of the Florida Straits. With strong H5 ridging anchored to the systems’ north/northeast by weeks’ end any possible development will move into the Gulf of Mexico with eyes on the northern Gulf Coast. Regardless of development, humidity levels over the eastern half of the country will increase greatly Friday through the weekend with boundary layer-H85 flow from sub-tropical Atlantic waters. Chances for convection will also increase as moisture interacts with northern stream disturbances scooting by the region.


Short-term - Issued - 5/18 @6:15am


A very chilly airmass for mid/late May rests over the Northeast early this morning on the heels of a strong cold front to blow through the region this past weekend. H850 temperatures are below 0°C over most of the Northeast with the exception of southeastern southern New England. The aforementioned cold front, although offshore, continues to affect the sensible weather, especially over the eastern half of the region. With the flow aloft now aligned to the frontal boundary offshore this feature has taken on anafront characteristics with scattered showers falling along the coast as several disturbances work northeastwards along it. The proximity of the front has also kept clouds shrouded over much of the eastern half of the region helping to keep temperatures from free-falling, despite the very chilly airmass in place. However, west of the Appalachians where skies have managed to clear temperatures fell quite rapidly overnight. Bradford, PA is reporting 26°F at the time of this writing and many other areas are around the freezing mark with frosty conditions.
There should be a decent recovery in temperatures today across the western half of the region under bright May sunshine though highs will still run several degrees below normal in the mid to low 60’s. Across the east it will be more of a struggle under the core of the cold airmass and clouds passing overhead. In fact, it will be quite raw along the immediate coast with a stiff northerly/north-northeasterly breeze and a cold rain falling at times thanks to a shortwave ejecting up the coast via the Mid-Atlantic. Water temperatures offshore are still only in the 40’s and locations such as Cape Cod, eastern Massachusetts, eastern Long Island may only see highs in the 40’s. Further inland away from maritime influences temperatures will be somewhat warmer but mid/high clouds filtering the sunshine and highs only in the 50’s will give the feel of early April. Winds will continue out of the north around 5-15 mph.

As shortwave exits stage right during the overnight it will help to drag the front further offshore, ending the precipitation threat across coastal regions during the evening hours. Skies will clear and with high pressure moving overhead, winds will become calm. Combine this with the chilly, dry airmass over the region the stage will be set for a night of freezing temperatures across a good portion of the interior away from the larger river valleys. Even the Pine Barrens of southern New Jersey and eastern Long Island where radiational cooling effects are maximized areas of frost will develop. Since most areas are several weeks into the growing season many sensitive plants can potentially be damaged due to the frosty conditions expected overnight. Preparations should be made to protect these plants from the cold by covering with frost blankets or bringing potted plants indoors for the night. Temperatures should drop into the mid 20’s to mid 30’s across much of the interior, along with the aforementioned Pine Barren locales. Elsewhere along the coastal plain temperatures should remain warm enough to preclude frost development with overnight lows in the upper 30’s to low 40’s. The urban centers of New York and Philadelphia should remain in the mid to upper 40’s.

A nice moderation trend begins throughout the region on Tuesday as warm advection ensues. High pressure nearly overhead will provide a mostly sunny start to the day as H85 temperatures warm some 6°C from 24 hours prior. Some Mid/high level clouds will begin to filter into the region from the north as a backdoor cold front drops southward from Canada but with the dry airmass in place not much precipitation will be associated with this feature. Highs will climb into the 70’s across most of the southern half of the region aside from the Allegheny Front, Laurel Highlands and immediate lake shores of the Erie and Ontario. Further north the filtered sunshine will knock a few degrees off the highs with most locations climbing into the 60’s. Across the higher terrain of the ‘Dacks, Greens and Whites highs will only make the 50’s.

The backdoor front will slide down into northern New England and become hung up just south of the border. A sharp temperature gradient will set-up across the region due to the location of this front with northern New York and New England dropping into the upper 20’s to mid 30s under partly cloudy skies. Meanwhile, south of the front temperatures will run 15-25 degrees warmer under the much milder airmass and scattered cloud cover limiting nocturnal cooling. Here lows will range from the upper 40’s to mid 50’s. Winds will be fairly light with surface high pressure entrenched over the region.


Mid-term - Issued - 5/18 @6:15am


Surface high pressure slips offshore Wednesday morning as heights build throughout the column. Return flow around the surface high will drive the front hung up over the region back north as a warm front by afternoon. Temperatures may one again reach above normal readings with highs across the southern half of the region well into the 70’s and a few locales even approaching 80°F! Meanwhile, over northern New England, the front won’t clear this area until late in the afternoon or early evening and clouds will help to keep temperatures down in the 50’s. In the immediate vicinity of the front (Adirondacks-Boston metro) the forecast becomes much more difficult as timing the fronts’ return north is very low confidence; so 60’s should do. The front will move into the Canadian Maritimes overnight with mostly clear skies and mild temperatures for the region Wednesday night.

A very warm day is on tap for Thursday and the region will be under deep southwesterly flow and H85 temps in the 14-16°C range. This should push highs well into he 80’s for most locales with 70’s confined to the higher terrain of northern New York and New England. There may even be a spot 90°F reading or two along the coastal plain. A very similar airmass in late April pushed temperatures into the 90’s for many locations but with trees now in foliage adding evapotranspiration and higher soil moisture due to recent rainfall, temperatures will aren’t likely to attain those readings, despite the higher sun angle and longer days.


Long-term - Issued - 5/18 @6:15am


Somewhat complicated forecast in the long-term as there may be a sub-tropical storm to deal with over the southern states. Obviously, should such a feature form, there will be a more consolidated area of moisture moving into the South and spreading over the eastern half of the country. Meanwhile, to the north, a broad longwave trough will reside over eastern Canada with several shortwaves rippling along it. It remains unclear whether or not these two features will interact but should they do so, chances for showers and thunderstorms will increase each day in the long term period. At the time activity appears it will be scattered but should a stronger shortwave sharpen the trough chances for widespread precipitation will ensue. Temperatures will run slightly above normal with the humid airmass expected to be in place.



___________________________________________________________


Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.10 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


___________________________________________________________

Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.11 Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


___________________________________________________________



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Updated: 7:35 PM GMT on May 21, 2009

Permalink

Arctic sea-ice watch/warm season crops(1)

By: sullivanweather, 8:48 AM GMT on May 12, 2009





Fig.2 - USDA plant hardiness zone map of the eastern United States circa 1990. Credit: USDA

Garden Series

Blog 1: Planning the Garden


Blog 2: Cool season crops


Blog 3: Companion Planting


Blog 4: Container Gardening


___________________________________________________________

Warm season Crops (1)

Corn

A favorite at summertime barbecues, corn is a great crop to have in the garden, especially if you have the space for it. Corn requires rich soil, which must be of at least 60°F to germinate the seeds properly, and a full sun location. At minimum, to ensure a proper harvest, corn will occupy at least 60 sq.ft of garden space - 4 rows, of at least 4 feet in length, 3 feet apart (and room to maneuver around the periphery). Sow the corn seeds at least 1/2” deep, one inch apart down the rows and water in thoroughly. After germination, thin the seedlings to 6 inches apart and eliminate any weeds that pop up to compete with the corn (they are not good competitors early in life). Depending in variety, corn will be ready for harvest in as little as 60 days (an early variety), or as many as 95 days (a long season variety). What I have found is that the longer season corn is usually sweeter in taste. Although corn will set its roots deep and can tolerate heat and drought, water corn in times of dry weather, especially if no rain has occurred in a 7 day span.

Common pests of corn include the corn earworm and silkworms, which enter the ear of corn through the silk. Keep tomatoes and corn away from each other in the garden due to the corn earworm which will attack both plants. Crows and jays may also try to snack on the crop. When harvesting the corn pull the ear down and twist in the same motion. Corn also loses its sugars to starches quickly after harvesting but corn will keep well on the plant for several weeks before needing to be harvested. In other words, to keep sweet corn on your plate night after night, harvest only what you intend to use that night before making a final harvest. Corn stalks also make great Halloween decor and compost. However, one must be careful. If your corn crop had died back due to fungus you could spread the spores into your compost so only add ‘healthy’ plants.


Curcubit Family

The Curcubita family, which includes cucumbers, gourds, squashes and pumpkins. There are two methods of growing the members of the Curcubit family in the garden, each of which require rich, well-draining, high humus soil. The first is planting them in a row, with a fence or trellis alongside the row to support the vines (works best for non-heavy curcubits such as cucumbers and lighter gourds). The second is planting a hill, leaving the vines to sprawl out across the garden(works best with melons, squashes, pumpkins and heavier gourds). The latter method (with cucumbers and gourds) will usually yield more fruits as the vines grows secondary roots where they come in contact with soil, tapping more nutrients. The prior will yield less fruits due to the vines being suspended in air, but will also require much less space in the garden and an ideal method for smaller gardens. Sow seeds in soil of at least 60°F (in rows, seeds should be sowed 2 inches apart, in hills, around 8 seeds per hill) to around an inch in depth and water immediately. Then again after 2 or 3 days, if no rain has fallen to ensure a high percentage, timely germination. Once seedlings begin to develop their second sets of leaves thin them out to 4 inches apart in rows or leaving the strongest 3-4 seedlings per hill. Curcubits are a heavy feeder and will require scheduled fertilization, usually once every other week. As the plants grow, train them to climb the support given by twining the vines through a few openings in the support. Most cucumbers and squashes will begin to produce in 60 days while pumpkins and gourds will take as many as 100 days or more.

Curcubits have many pests and diseases they are susceptible to. Cucumber beetles can be a big problem, as they eat all parts of the plant and will do so quickly. Radishes planted close by curcubits will deter these pests but most often other measures must be taken. Picking them off by hand is effective but tedious or applying insect deterrents such as hot pepper spray have shown results. Squash Vine Borers also will attack curcubits, eating their way into the vine at its junction with the soil and tunneling through the plant. Fungus will also attack curcubits. The most common fungus is a white powdery like substance, powdery mildew, which covers the leaves. Remove any leaves showing signs of this problem.

Harvest cucumbers and summer squashes the first day they appear to ‘stop growing’. Cucumbers and summer squashes grow very fast and are usually ready for harvest between 4-5 days after forming. Leaving them on the plant too long will cause the plants to curtail its production. Winter squash can be picked as soon as the skin shows a noticeable change in colour. Plants usually produce fruits until frost.


Eggplant

Enjoyed the world over, eggplant has found its way into international cuisine and can into your dinner plate straight from your garden very easily. Eggplant prefers hot weather and will not produce well if started before nighttime temperatures climb above 45°F. In northern climes this means starting the plants indoors at least 6 weeks before setting them outside, or buying them from the local nursery. You may still get fruit by direct seeding them into your garden, but an early frost in September will just about eliminate the possibility of seeing any fruit. Eggplant needs a soil rich in organic material and as much sun as possible. Eggplant would most like the sunniest location in your garden. If starting by seed, they only need to be pressed firmly into the soil and watered in. Plants should be placed 2 feet apart in rows 2-3 feet apart. Eggplants also do not like competition with weed, so cultivate the beds often, especially while young. The plants typically take 10-12 weeks to mature.

Common pests include aphids, red spider mites and whiteflies. Other pests, such as the leaf-hopper beetle are less common, but more damaging. They will bullet-spray the leaves with holes as they feed very quickly while young, eventually turning into larger ever more consuming insects. Hot pepper spray works well in control, as well as picking them off by hand.

Harvest when the fruit is young and firm. Letting the fruit grow too much will allow for seed development inside the fruit which robs it of flavor. Cut fruit off the plant with a good sharp pair of durable scissors or pruners, they are very tough.

___________________________________________________________

Soil Conditions


Soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm
Soil moisture 0-200cm
Fig.3 - Weekly averaged soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature 0-10cm
Soil temperature 0-10cm
Fig.4 - 6-hourly updated 0-10cm soil temperature. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature and anomalies 10-40cm
Soil temperature 10-40cm
Fig.5 - Weekly updated 10-40cm soil temperature and anomalies. Credit: NOAA


Kelvin temperature scale
273.15°K = 0°C

___________________________________________________________





Julian Day 128

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,402,344……..……….-54,844
2004 – 12,020,469……..……….-40,625
2005 – 12,360,000……..……….-45,156
2006 – 11,916,563……..……….-26,562
2007 – 12,284,688………………-33,593
2008 – 12,630,313………..…….-50,156
2009 – 12,805,000………..…….-48,750

-------

Julian Day 129

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,356,406……..……….-45,938
2004 – 12,003,594……..……….-16,875
2005 – 12,343,594……..……….-16,406
2006 – 11,901,563……..……….-15,000
2007 – 12,229,688………………-55,000
2008 – 12,569,531………..…….-60,782
2009 – 12,757,656………..…….-47,344

-------

Julian Day 130

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,317,813……..……….-38,593
2004 – 11,971,250……..……….-32,344
2005 – 12,278,906……..……….-64,688
2006 – 11,873,125……..……….-28,438
2007 – 12,174,844………………-54,844
2008 – 12,495,156………..…….-74,375
2009 – 12,683,281………..…….-74,375

-------

Julian Day 131

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,299,219……..……….-18,594
2004 – 11,932,813……..……….-38,437
2005 – 12,197,969……..……….-80,937
2006 – 11,850,469……..……….-22,656
2007 – 12,105,156………………-69,688
2008 – 12,461,406………..…….-33,750
2009 – 12,641,250………..…….-42,031

-------

Julian Day 132

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,294,531……..……….-4,688
2004 – 11,901,406……..……….-31,407
2005 – 12,133,125……..……….-64,844
2006 – 11,826,406……..……….-24,063
2007 – 12,038,906………………-66,250
2008 – 12,376,719………..…….-84,687
2009 – 12,557,656………..…….-83,594

-------

Julian Day 133

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,272,969……..……….-21,562
2004 – 11,871,406……..……….-30,000
2005 – 12,144,531……..……….+11,406
2006 – 11,799,063……..……….-27,343
2007 – 12,009,063………………-29,843
2008 – 12,309,531………..…….-67,188
2009 – 12,510,625………..…….-47,031

-------

Julian Day 134

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,246,719……..……….-26,250
2004 – 11,825,313……..……….-46,093
2005 – 12,129,375……..……….-15,156
2006 – 11,785,781……..……….-13,282
2007 – 11,985,469………………-23,594
2008 – 12,285,625………..…….-23,906
2009 – 12,473,125………..…….-37,500




Extent difference


Fig.6 - Difference in sea-ice extent between 2009 and recent years.



Melt Rate


Fig.7 - 2009(blue) daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2008(red).

-------


Fig.8 - 2009(blue) daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2007(magenta).

*Data retrieved from JAXA


___________________________________________________________




Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.9 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

--------

Forecast Discussion

Coming later


___________________________________________________________


Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.10 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


___________________________________________________________

Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.11 Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


___________________________________________________________



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Updated: 5:42 PM GMT on May 15, 2009

Permalink

Wet pattern cometh/Container gardening

By: sullivanweather, 7:43 AM GMT on May 03, 2009





Fig.2 - USDA plant hardiness zone map of the eastern United States circa 1990. Credit: USDA

Garden Series

Blog 1: Planning the Garden


Blog 2: Cool season crops


Blog 3: Companion Planting




Container Gardening



The most recent heat wave is now behind us with little chance for freezing temperatures in the near future for regions where the growing season starts on or prior to May 1st. With the threat of frost now on the wane we can expand further into other aspects of gardening, namely container gardening. A thought did pass my mind to move on to warm season crops but for most of us soil temperatures are still too low. In addition, while many of us have a yard to install a garden there are those of us out there that don't. There's many ways one can garden using containers (flowers, conifers, vegetables & herbs). What this blog will focus on is vegetables and herbs. After all, this series of garden blogs is geared towards growing your own food - organically.

Unlike flowers, most vegetables have extensive root systems which require lots of space to spread out. With this being the case, the bigger the better when choosing a container to grow your vegetables in, although there are a couple of exceptions. A container too small for tomatoes, for example, will produce smaller tomatoes in reduced quantity. Also, once roots bunch up at the bottom of a container the plant will become susceptible to disease, especially in over-watered containers. Hence in choosing a container you’re going to want to make sure you choose one that’s appropriate for the vegetables you decide to grow. Containers come in all shapes and sizes, from plastic to terracotta to wooden whiskey barrels. When choosing a wooden container be sure that it has not been treated with any chemicals to preserve its integrity. You don’t want to plant anything inside a container treated with toxic chemicals that can easily be absorbed through the root systems of your plants.

Tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, cabbage family members and squash all have extensive root systems which will require a large deep container. Root crops such as onions and beets, beans, legumes and herbs can all get away with being planted in smaller, shallow containers. You’ll want to keep this in mind being that some containers can run quite pricey.

After obtaining the containers you’ll need some soil to fill them with. I must add, before filling your containers with soil you’ll want to be sure your containers have proper drainage. Most containers come with drainage holes already in place, however, if it doesn’t you’ll have to add your own. In addition to ensuring proper drainage you’ll want to add a layer of stones or a stone/charcoal mixture to the bottom of the container. This will also help with drainage and the charcoal will help to prevent root disease. Although different plants require different soil types I'll try to make soil selection as straight forward as possible. What I recommend is buying two types of soil, an all purpose organic fertilizer and garden lime. The first soil is a ’soiless’ growing medium that can be found at most nurseries or big box store garden departments. It’s called ‘pro-mix’ and I’ll provide a link at the bottom of this post to their website. It comes in several sizes from 3.8 cu.ft. bails to 2.2 cu.ft. bails as well as smaller sized bags. The second soil type would be a humus rich garden soil marked as organic. Steer clear of humus rich mixtures of soil that contain petrochemical fertilizers such as Miracle Grow. I recommend a soil called ‘Bumper Crop’ which I will also provide a link for. You’ll want to use, on average, a 70:30 pro-mix:bumper crop ratio when filling your containers. You’ll want to leave about an inch or two of space from the lip of the container to the top of the soil level. In addition to the soil you’ll want to amend it with an all-purpose organic fertilizer. As mentioned in previous blogs in the garden series, a great organic fertilizer company is Espoma which is widely available. They have a large line of organic fertilizer products ranging from all-purpose fertilizers, such as garden-tone, to specialized products such as tomato-tone. Add an appropriate amount of fertilizer following the instructions provided on the bags of the product to the soil in your containers and mix it in well. This will ensure that there will be plenty of food for your plants roots as it reaches down into deeper soil strata. Lastly, since pro-mix is a product derived from peat moss it will be acidic in nature. Since some plants such as beets and cabbage family members will find this acidic soil offensive you’ll want to raise its PH level. Garden lime will be needed to add to the soil of such plants to attain a higher level of alkalinity. Of course, always follow instructions on the bag of the product to ensure proper dosage.

Just as important as soil, you’ll also want to give your container gardens proper amounts of water and light. Keeping your containers evenly moist is essential to the health of the plants. Container gardens may also be fickle as once they dry out it’s often quite difficult to moisten the soil once again. This is due to the compaction of the soil as it dries making the dirt less porous. If this happens don’t be fooled! You may water your container garden only to have most of the water drain down the sides of the pot. It will take several doses of water to moisten your soil if it dries out. To make sure that the soil is retaining water once again you’ll have to make a small hole several inches into the soil of your container to check it for moisture retention. Often times the top of the soil will appear wet however just a couple inches below the surface will be bone dry. Due to the small volume of soil containers hold they will dry out quite fast, especially during periods of hot dry weather. Once summer-like temperatures set in be sure to give your containers regular watering once a day, preferably in the morning while the humidity is still relatively high. On extremely hot days (95 degrees or higher) it may be necessary to water your containers twice a day. Over-watering can also be a problem. If you take a pinch full of soil and squeeze out more than a drop of water your soil is likely too moist. It may all sound confusing now but after a couple weeks you’ll find a happy niche in watering your containers properly. Making sure your container gardens receive proper amounts of light is also essential to the health of your plants. Plants such as lettuce and cabbage can be burned by too much sun, especially during hot summer afternoons so you’ll want to provide them with some shade during those hours of the day. Root crops will require higher amounts of light and fruiting crops require the most. So properly placed containers will provide your plants the best health and highest yields.

Companion gardening, as discussed in the previous blog, is a great way to maximize your harvest from your containers. There’s also ‘pigmy’ plants that are suited to be grown in containers that will help with space. As always see your local nursery professionals in helping to choose your plants.

There’s other factors to keep in mind with container gardening concerning safety. When filled with dirt and watered containers can be quite heavy. After full of soil and watered you’ll want to be sure you don’t hurt yourself in moving them. Placing the containers on dowels and sliding them to where you want them will help to prevent potential injury. Also too many containers on a deck, for example, may cause that structure to collapse. Be sure to know how much weight your deck or patio can hold and don’t exceed that limit. Plants produce a surprising amount of yield so there’s no need to go overboard if using containers.

Soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm
Soil moisture 0-200cm
Fig.3 - Weekly averaged soil moisture and anomalies 0-200cm. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature 0-10cm
Soil temperature 0-10cm
Fig.4 - 6-hourly updated 0-10cm soil temperature. Credit: NOAA

Soil temperature and anomalies 10-40cm
Soil temperature 10-40cm
Fig.5 - Weekly updated 10-40cm soil temperature and anomalies. Credit: NOAA


Kelvin temperature scale
273.15°K = 0°C

___________________________________________________________





Julian Day 121


------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,851,094…….....…….-22,969
2004 – 12,494,063….....……….-29,531
2005 – 12,696,406….....……….-58,594
2006 – 12,341,250.....………….-107,500
2007 – 12,627,813….….....……-5,937
2008 – 12,877,969…….....…….-37,812
2009 – 13,135,156…….....…….-26,875

-------

Julian Day 122

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,804,063….....……….-47,031
2004 – 12,440,156….....……….-53,907
2005 – 12,645,156….....……….-51,250
2006 – 12,239,531….....……….-101,719
2007 – 12,597,031…......………-30,782
2008 – 12,865,156….....……….-12,813
2009 – 13,082,188….....……….-52,926

-------

Julian Day 123


------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,742,969……..……….-61,094
2004 – 12,385,625……..……….-54,531
2005 – 12,574,063……..……….-71,093
2006 – 12,191,094……..……….-48,437
2007 – 12,550,000……......……-47,031
2008 – 12,852,344………..…….-12,812
2009 – 13,031,875………..…….-50,313

-------

Julian Day 124

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,699,844……..……….-43,125
2004 – 12,358,750……..……….-26,875
2005 – 12,524,375……..……….-49,688
2006 – 12,092,031……..……….-99,063
2007 – 12,489,375………………-60,625
2008 – 12,802,969………..…….-49,375
2009 – 13,012,500………..…….-19,375

-------

Julian Day 125

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,633,594……..……….-66,250
2004 – 12,285,156……..……….-73,594
2005 – 12,466,719……..……….-57,656
2006 – 12,003,594……..……….-88,437
2007 – 12,406,406………………-82,969
2008 – 12,735,000………..…….-67,969
2009 – 12,977,188………..…….-35,312

-------

Julian Day 126

------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,539,375……..……….-94,219
2004 – 12,162,656……..……….-122,500
2005 – 12,430,938……..……….-35,781
2006 – 11,960,781……..……….-42,813
2007 – 12,370,469………………-35,937
2008 – 12,705,781………..…….-29,219
2009 – 12,910,000………..…….-67,188

-------

Julian Day 127


------- Extent (km^2)----Difference (km^2)
2003 – 12,457,188……..……….-82,187
2004 – 12,061,094……..……….-101,562
2005 – 12,405,156……..……….-25,782
2006 – 11,943,125……..……….-17,656
2007 – 12,318,281………………-52,188
2008 – 12,680,469………..…….-25,312
2009 – 12,853,750………..…….-56,250





Extent difference


Fig.6 - Difference in sea-ice extent between 2009 and recent years.



Melt Rate


Fig.7 - Daily melt rate of Arctic sea-ice compared to 2007 and 2008.

*Data retrieved from JAXA


___________________________________________________________



Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.8 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

--------

Forecast Discussion

Synopsis - Issued - 5/03/09 @3:45am


Several waves of low pressure will move along a stalled out frontal boundary along the coast leading to an extended period of wet weather for the Northeast, especially along the coastal plain. Further inland, high pressure will initially fend off the precipitation but eventually some beneficial rainfall will move across the North Country by mid to late week. Airmass gradually becomes more humid after midweek allowing for some convection to work into the picture. Drier weather may return by Sunday.


Short-term - Issued - 5/03/09 @3:45am


The cold front that dropped through the region late Friday and early Saturday will begin to lift back north as the flow backs ahead of a weak wave of low pressure moving south of the region today. Isentropic lift will increase during the morning hours and showers will break out, mainly south of the I-80 corridor. These showers will be short-lived as most will move offshore or dissipate by mid-afternoon. Clouds will hang tough, however, and they will keep temperatures down in the upper 50’s to low 60’s in this area. Across the north, from northern New York to northern New England, the southern end of a northern stream trough will clip the region, bringing an increase in clouds during the late morning and afternoon and perhaps a few scattered showers, mainly across the higher terrain where orographic lift will aid in generating precipitation. 850mb temps will run between 0-3°C with mixed sun and clouds leading to temperatures in the mid 50’s across the higher terrain to low 60’s in the valleys. Sandwiched between these two areas, from the northern tier of Pennsylvania/southern tier of New York east to Massachusetts, skies will be mostly sunny during the morning hours with an expanding coverage of mid/high level clouds during the afternoon. The extra insolation will add a few degrees to daytime highs as temperatures climb into the low 60’s across the higher terrain to the upper 60’s in the valleys.

Another wave of low pressure gathering over the Mississippi Valley region during the day on Sunday will push towards the Northeast late Sunday night and Monday morning. Rain will spread into southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey by daybreak and slowly edge towards the north during the day on Monday, reaching the New York/Pennsylvania border across to interior southern New England by afternoon. Much of the precipitation will be stratiform and convective threat looks minimal. A couple hundred joules of elevated CAPE along the warm front may lead to a rumble or two of thunder south of I-70. There is a rather juicy airmass moving in associated with this wave of low pressure. Precipitable water values will rise to above an inch across much of southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey where rainfall amounts should range from three-quarters of an inch to an inch and a half. Rainfall gradient along the north side of the low will be sharp with plenty of dry air residing over the North Country thanks to the aforementioned northern stream trough passage. Overnight lows Sunday night will range from the 50’s across the southern tier of the Northeast, extending up the coastal plain to southern New England. Inland temperatures will fall back into the 40’s except for far northern New York and New England where lows will drop into the 30’s with scattered areas of frost in sheltered valleys. Highs on Monday will climb into the mid 50’s to low 60’s across the north with mainly 50’s and a few upper 40’s across the south under the clouds and rainfall.

Subtle differences begin to arise in the models as early as Monday night. Models are struggling with the amplitude of the building ridge north of Bermuda over the western Atlantic, which, in turn, will deflect the wave of low pressure heading towards the region on a more northerly course as it has no other choice but to round the top of the ridge, sending it up the coast. Some bring the low closer to the coast while others move it a bit further offshore. Along the immediate coast either track will be of little difference as showers and perhaps a rumble or two of thunder will continue through the overnight. Further inland is where the slight difference in track will be felt the most. Obviously, a track closer to the coast would bring some much needed rainfall for areas from the Susquehanna Valley to the Catskills and Taconics while a track further offshore would merely clip these areas with some light showers or drizzle. West of the Appalachians conditions will remain dry with partly to mostly cloudy skies. High pressure will be in control over northern New England where temperatures should drop to frosty levels.


Mid-term - Issued - 5/03/09 @3:45am


Low pressure slowly works up the coast on Tuesday. The main axis of rainfall should set up along the coastal plain as far north as southern Maine before high pressure over the Canadian Maritimes erodes the front edge of the rain shield. Moist onshore flow will keep low clouds and fog banked up along the east side of the Appalachians and this may very well be a day where the warmest temperatures are found from western Pennsylvania, to the Niagara Frontier, along the lake plain to the St.Lawrence Valley and across northern New England where there will be breaks of sun. Here temperatures should climb into the upper 50’s to mid 60’s. Socked in under the clouds and moisture to the south and east, temperatures will remain in the 50’s with some of the higher terrain locales only seeing 40’s. Shallow marine layer may remain in place through Tuesday night east of the Appalachians as low pressure departs via the Gulf of Maine. Flow aloft will be starting to back from the southwest with warm air advection aloft commencing during the evening hours. Lows should range from the low 40’s to mid 50’s from north to south.

Pesky marine layer will lose its grip over the region as deep-layer southwesterly flow takes over by Wednesday. The airmass arriving into the region will be more humid and given expected breaks of sun, weak disturbances rounding the base of an advancing trough into the region and stronger winds aloft, afternoon convection looks to be a pretty good bet. Temperatures will climb back to slightly above normal readings, though there may be some rain-cooled areas by afternoon.

The trough meets the ridging off the western Atlantic coast Wednesday night and Thursday with low pressure developing over the Ohio Valley and pushing northeastwards into Ontario. On this track, the Northeast would be in the warm sector of the storm increasing the convective threat. Too early to hi-light any severe threat but the winds aloft will be on the strong side.


Long-term - Issued - 5/03/09 @3:45am


Only a brief break between systems before a northern stream disturbance moves across the Northeast Friday and Saturday. Another round of showers and thunderstorms is likely to accompany this system. Upper trough associated with this system may stick around until Sunday leading to continued unsettled weather or move out to salvage the second half of the weekend.


___________________________________________________________


Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.9 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


___________________________________________________________

Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.10 Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


___________________________________________________________



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Updated: 4:59 AM GMT on May 09, 2009

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Thomas is an avid weather enthusiast, landscaper and organic gardener. This blog is dedicated to Northeast and tropical weather forecasting. Enjoy!

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