Northeast Weather Blog

The 'Climategate' Controversy

By: sullivanweather, 4:05 PM GMT on November 28, 2009


"Climategate' Controversy


Last week a server at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit (UEA CRU) containing e-mail correspondence between climate researchers and coded documents was hacked and/or leaked then posted on a Russian website. From there the information contained in that server went viral and quickly spread over the internet and eventually the media over the next 24-48 hours sparking indignation and controversy. For the climate scientists involved in what’s now being called in the popular press as ‘Climategate’ a clear intrusion of their privacy occurred in addition to being victims of the theft. These climate scientists have also gone through great length to point out that there isn’t anything in the e-mails that would lead one to believe that their published papers are inherently wrong or that their research/data has been manipulated in order to fit preconceived theories. On the other end of the spectrum, those that have argued against anthropogenic climate change have seized upon these e-mails as a ‘smoking gun’ in their argument that the climate is a) not changing or b) not changing due to human influence. Looking a bit deeper into the issue one will find that on either side of the issue faults can be found.

Perhaps the biggest controversy amongst skeptical circles in the stolen e-mails refers to a dendrochronology study used to give credence to the infamous ‘Hockey Stick’ graph prominently featured in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) third assessment report in 2001. For those that don’t know, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)in response to a growing number of climate scientists raising alarm over the rising concentration of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses (GHG’s) which contribute to global warming. For a general background, the ‘Hockey Stick’ graph was produced by climate scientists Michael E. Mann, Raymond S. Bradley and Malcolm K. Hughes using tree rings as a proxy for temperature from various locations throughout the northern hemisphere. The study, published in 1998 (here after known as MBH98), demonstrated a gradual decline in northern hemisphere temperatures until about 1850, the start of the industrial revolution. Thereafter a clear and rapid rise in temperatures is depicted by their study extending to present day sparking controversy and numerous attempts to either discredit their study or reproduce their results. To get the renowned ‘Hockey Stick’ blade on their graph the proxy data obtained from tree ring dendrochronology was overlaid with the instrument record of temperatures. The correlation between the proxy record and instrument record of temperatures held firm from 1850 until about 1960 where the two data sets split with the instrument record spiking upwards and the proxy data showing a slight decline in later years. This became known as the divergence problem as the proxy data was reproduced by statistician Stephen McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick, which showed the decline in the proxy derived data. This leads us to one of the e-mails sent by Phil Jones, director of the UEA CRU, in 1999 to the authors of the MBH98 study. In this e-mail Jones elaborates on how he used ‘Mike’s Nature trick’ to ‘hide the decline’. Taken out of context, this statement could lead one to believe that Jones deceptively tried to hide a decline in temperatures from 1960 onwards but context is everything. What Jones actually was referring to was to eliminate proxy derived data after 1960 (when the divergence between datasets occurred), showing only the instrument record thereafter. So what was being ‘hidden’ was not a decline in temperatures but the decline in derived proxy data, something much different. What does this prove? Nothing, really, other than making the graph used in the MBH98 study more convincing to the reader that recent temperatures are outside of the range of natural variability.

Other e-mail correspondence, however, does indicate disreputable conduct between the scientists involved in the ‘Climategate’ controversy. Perhaps the most damming evidence of nefarious behavior in the e-mails of those involved revolves around subverting the peer-review process by lobbying the editors of several scientific journals to a) not accept studies written by skeptical scientists, b) attempting to force out editors believed to have skeptical views or c) threatening to not publish papers in journals that accept studies that don’t jibe with their theories. Several e-mails deal with this issue. In one e-mail Phil Jones explains to a colleague, “I’m having a dispute with the new editor of Weather. I’ve complained about him to the RMS Chief Exec. If I don’t get him to back down, I won’t be sending any more papers to any RMS journals and I’ll be resigning from the RMS.” In another exchange climate scientist Tom Wigley writes that editor Hans von Storch of the journal ‘Climate Research’ must be gotten rid of for the publication of skeptical papers; he subsequently resigned. This is where I believe the real controversy lies. Science is a self-correcting mechanism and bad science won’t stand on its own two when confronted with good science. The attempts to stifle those with skeptical views then proceeding to disparage the skeptics for ‘not publishing in peer-reviewed journals’ flies in the face of scientific process. This shouldn’t be accepted on any level of science, especially by those at the top of the field.

Another issue arising from the hacked/leaked e-mails deals with how scientists worked to circumvent the Freedom of Information Act passed in the United Kingdom. Multiple courses of action had been taken so that data used in the case for global warming by the scientists involved wouldn’t be disseminated to third parties, namely those trying to discredit their findings. This is another issue working against the climate scientists involved as transparency in their work is being hidden from the ability to be reproduced. Attempts to ‘hide behind’ confidentiality agreements with nations providing weather data or asking for other scientists to delete the data requested under the U.K Freedom of Information Act thwarts the scientific process and may even amount to criminal activity as certain provisions under the UK’s Freedom of information Act strictly prohibit the behavior of circumventing the request, despite the confidentiality agreements UEA CRU has with those providing the data to them.

So what does this all amount to? For one, an investigation should be commenced to determine the extent of coercion implemented by the scientists involved in their attempts to stifle skeptical papers from being published in scientific journals and their attempts to elude the UK’s Freedom of Information Act. Additionally, an investigation should also be launched to determine how the UEA CRU’s data server was compromised, whether through a hack or by a leak, which is still yet to be determined. Those responsible for this hack/leak should also be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Despite the fact that the information obtained from the hack/leak may in fact be criminal in nature, the information was stolen. This also presents its own set of problems as the information gathered by the hack/leak wasn’t obtained legally. This could have implications on possible charges to be filed, if any, and subsequent court proceedings.

In conclusion, despite all the controversy arising from ‘Climategate’ there’s nothing in the e-mails between the climate scientists involved proving they manipulated data or that climate change in a non-existent phenomenon. There are still megabytes of encrypted code that have yet to be analyzed but thus far the only conspiracy realized is the stifling of the peer-review process through coercion and the evasion of the UK Freedom of Information Act. On a personal note, I believe that it is a conflict of interest to have the climate change scientist ring-leaders to also be in charge of publishing global temperature data. If anything is to be learned from this so-called ‘Climategate’ it is that scientists promoting the anthropogenic global warming theory have let their personal beliefs get in the way of proper science.


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Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.2 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

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Forecast Discussion


Synopsis - Issued 11/23/09 @7:50pm


Coming later



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Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.4 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


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Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.5 - Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


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Grey days and pink nights

By: sullivanweather, 12:41 AM GMT on November 24, 2009

Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.2 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

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Forecast Discussion


Synopsis - Issued 11/23/09 @7:50pm


A weak coastal low will spread showers north along the coastal plain and southeastern interior of the Northeast through Tuesday. A brief break in the action on Wednesday before a trough developing over the center of the nation pushes east into our region for the Thanksgiving holiday and Black Friday. Multiple pieces of energy within this trough should consolidate into quite a potent storm by Friday afternoon over the interior of the Northeast. Progressive flow should keep low pressure moving along and out of the picture for the weekend with seasonable temperatures left in its wake. More pronounced changes commence at the beginning of next week as a northern stream trough pushes a cold front through the Northeast.


Near-term - Issued 11/23/09 @7:50pm


A sliver of fair weather remains this evening extending from northern Maine southwestward along the Canadian border into the Adirondacks of New York, then back into the Finger Lakes region. Clear skies and light winds across this region will allow temperatures to fall quickly during the evening hours towards the freezing mark. Elsewhere across the region skies are considerably cloudy as low level flow from the southeast is advection a marine layer across the southern three fourths of the Northeast. This southeasterly flow is in response to an area of low pressure advancing slowly northeast from the Mid-Atlantic region. Scattered showers have broken out in a west-east line across southern Pennsylvania then curving up along the coastal plain into southern New England. Within this band of precip where it isn’t raining it’s likely foggy and drizzly so all in all not a pleasant evening for traveling. The clouds and precipitation will likely keep temperatures holding in the 40’s.


Short-term - Issued - 11/23/09 @7:50pm

The band of showers will continue to lift north tonight, overspreading much of the southeastern half of the region. Rainfall amounts should be on the light side, around a tenth to a quarter inch for most areas. Rainfall may be a bit heavier across southern New England and eastern Long Island, closer to the track of the low moving northeast just offshore. In these areas rainfall may reach a half to three quarters of an inch. A surface ridge axis to the north will limit of northern extent of precipitation as the leading edge pushes into an area of subsidence and slightly drier air. The aforementioned areas currently seeing clear skies are the ones underneath this ridge axis. These areas will cloud over at some point during the overnight, except for perhaps extreme northern Maine, with temperatures rising several degrees once doing so. Winds will be generally out of the northeast at 5-10mph except for along the coastal areas where winds will be in the 10-20mph range with higher gusts due to their proximity to low pressure.

Low pressure will move towards Nova Scotia during the day on Tuesday with much of the heavier precipitation associated with it moving just offshore. However, weak northeasterly flow will continue with plenty of low-level moisture in place over the region. Some weak lift provided by lingering vorticity advection and low-level convergence boundaries should keep light showers and drizzle going throughout the morning and into early afternoon, especially along the coastal plain. Locally dense fog will also be an issue for the morning commute but should abate by the noon hour outside of the higher terrain from the Poconos to the Catskills and Berkshires. Areas to the north ill also see pockets of low clouds and drizzle during the morning hours but as low pressure moves away and the flow turns more northerly, the weak subsidence provided by the lingering ridge axis will eventually act to break up the cloud cover during the afternoon hours. Temperatures across much of the region will reach into the 40’s on Tuesday with a couple 50°F+ readings along the immediate coast and urban centers. Northeasterly wind will gradually turn northerly over the interior and remain on the light side, 5-10mph. Along the coastal plain winds will remain elevated, 10-20mph and will also trend towards a more northerly trajectory by afternoon.

Not much change in the overall weather picture Tuesday night. Plenty of low-level moisture will remain trapped under a modest inversion keeping low clouds fog and drizzle across a good portion of the region. Later on in the night high clouds will begin to advance over the western portions of the region as jet energy rounds the base of a low pressure trough over the Mississippi Valley. The cloud cover will act to keep temperatures elevated overnight, generally in the upper 30’s to mid 40’s. These readings are some 5 to 15 degrees above average for late November.



Mid-term - Issued - 11/23/09 @7:50pm

The trough moving into the Midwest will pull steadily eastward during the midterm portion of the forecast, a period covering the busiest travel day of the year on Wednesday and the Thanksgiving Holiday. Several shortwave disturbances will round the base of this trough, eventually consolidating into a rather formidable area of low pressure by the time Black Friday rolls around. Prior to the major cyclogenesis, the lead shortwave will move into the Northeast on Wednesday with showers spreading into the western half of the region. These showers are expected to be on the light side with precipitation amounts of a tenth of an inch or less. The flow will increase from the south ahead of the trough with milder air spreading over the region along with a continuation of considerable cloudiness. Temperatures will remain above normal with highs on Wednesday running in the mid to upper 40’s across the north with low to mid 50’s south.

The first shortwave will lift north of the region Wednesday night with a lingering trough axis lined up north-south across eastern New York State. In the vicinity of this trough axis light precipitation, mainly in the form of drizzle, along with low-clouds and fog will make for rather murky conditions. Elsewhere skies will be cloudy with pockets of fog, especially along the coastal plain. Temperatures will remain mild, generally in the 40’s with some 30’s across the higher terrain to the north.

Thanksgiving morning will break cloud filled with foggy areas and pockets of drizzle. An ill-defined cold front will begin to slice into the region from the west but will halt its eastward progress as a stronger shortwave reaches the base of the trough, now over the Ohio Valley, and starts to swing the trough axis from a positive tilt to a negative tilt. The flow out ahead of this trough will begin to turn around to the southeast by afternoon, helping to advect milder maritime air over the region. Clouds will persist into the afternoon but precipitation will remain light and scattered with little forcing over the region. Temperatures will be on the mild side, with readings in the upper 40’s to mid 50’s east of the Appalachians. To the west of the Apps, temperatures will be slightly cooler being behind the cold front. But even here highs will be a few degrees above normal with readings in the low to mid 40’s.

Big changes start to occur during the evening hours of Thanksgiving as the shortwave at the base of the trough crosses the central Appalachians inducing cyclogenesis east of Delmarva. Low-level easterly jet will increase to nearly 30kts to the north of the developing low pressure helping to draw Atlantic moisture back across the northeast. Developing deformation axis along the western flanks of the developing low pressure system will cause precipitation to break out across much of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. At first much of this precipitation will be in the form of rain but as colder air drains into the backside of the system and dynamic cooling processes develop in response to the strengthening low/subsequent closing off of mid/upper lows, some of the precip will begin to change to snow. This changeover will occur first across the elevated terrain of the Allegheny’s and Laurel Highlands and eventually will work down to the lower elevations across western Pennsylvania by later in the overnight.



Long-term - Issued - 11/23/09 @7:50pm


Black Friday will be rather stormy across the Northeast as low pressure quickly intensifies in the vicinity of the Jersey shore and moves northeast. Cold air continuing to be drawn into the backside of low pressure will push the rain/snow line south and east, into central New York and Pennsylvania by afternoon and eventually reaching western New England by the evening. Across the higher terrain of the Appalachians and Adirondacks a measureable snowfall of several inches is possible during the daylight hours on Friday, meanwhile points east should see a half inch to an inch of rainfall.

Low pressure will bottom out Friday night at sub 990mb’s along the Maine Coast. Any lingering rain showers should change to snow for most areas save the immediate coastal plain and the State of Maine where milder southerly flow ahead of the low will be in place. Across the higher terrain of the North Country several more inches of snow may fall during the overnight hours while snow may leave a coating across the higher terrain to the south, including the Catskills, Berkshires and Taconics. Deep moist cyclonic flow will keep non-accumulating snow showers scattered about the remainder of the interior with some lake effect action thrown in there as well. 850mb temps are progged to fall to -6°C to -8°C so nothing significant is expected but an inch or so may fall away from the lakes where bands persist. Closer to the lakes themselves temperatures may indeed be mild enough for a mixture of precip types, deterring accumulations.

Wrap-around precip and lake effect snow showers will last through Saturday before gradually winding down as low pressure quickly lifts towards Newfoundland. The second half of the weekend looks splendid with partial breaks of sun but mostly mid/high clouds and seasonable temperatures.



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Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.4 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


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Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.5 - Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


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Delightful late Autumn weather to continue through midweek

By: sullivanweather, 7:57 PM GMT on November 16, 2009

Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.2 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

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Forecast Discussion


Synopsis - Issued 11/16/09 @2:50pm


A weak backdoor cold front will glide through the Northeast over the next 24 hours with strong high pressure quickly building in its wake. Temperatures will cool from their recent very mild readings but will remain slightly above normal. Thursday and Friday precipitation chances increase once again as a cut-off low over the Midwest opens to a trough that should graze the region. By the weekend signs of a pattern change begin to emerge with several digging shortwave disturbances carve out a trough over the center of the nation which should lead to a more active pattern as we head into Thanksgiving week.


Near-term - Issued 11/16/09 @2:50pm


A glorious afternoon is shaping up for most locales across the Northeast this Monday with mostly sunny skies abound and mild temperatures running 10 degrees or more above normal. There are a few exceptions around the peripheries of the region with northern Maine coming under a stratocumulus deck behind the backdoor front. There’s also been an increase in clouds over northwestern Pennsylvania and the Niagara Frontier of New York as some moisture streaks out along the jet stream cutting across the region. Where these clouds are present temperatures are running closer to normal.



Short-term - Issued - 11/16/09 @2:50pm

The backdoor front will continue its push through the region tonight with little fanfare. There may be a slight increase in mid/high level cloudiness across the region coinciding with the passage of the front but with high pressure nosing down from the northern Great Lakes region and a much drier airmass moving in behind the front these clouds should give way to clearing skies, providing a wonderful opportunity to catch the Leonid meteor shower tonight. The clear skies and dry airmass will also make for ideal radiational cooling conditions and a large diurnal swing in temperatures tonight. Lows will dip down into 20’s tonight for much of the northern interior with teens likely across the higher terrain. Further south a bit more clouds and a milder airmass will keep temperatures a few notches higher during the overnight with interior locales falling into the 30’s and coastal/urban areas remaining in the low to mid 40’s, although the pine barren regions of South Jersey and Long Island should drop close to freezing.

High pressure will hold firm over the Northeast both Tuesday and Wednesday, providing plenty of sunshine and mild temperatures during the day. A great stretch of weather to finish up any outside work before winter sets in. High temperatures should continue to average some 5-15 degrees above normal, with the warmer day of the two being Wednesday. This translates into highs reaching into the 50’s across the southern half of the region with a few 60°F readings possible along the coastal plain. To the north 40’s to low 50’s should be where temperatures find themselves during the afternoon hours. The clear skies, calm winds and dry airmass with also make for a continuation of ideal radiational cooling at night. Temperatures should have no trouble dropping some 25-30 degrees from daily max to daily min through Wednesday night. Lows will range from the teens and 20’s across the interior to the 30’s to low 40’s down along the coastal plain. An increase in clouds from the west may keep western New York and Pennsylvania a bit milder by Wednesday night.



Mid-term - Issued - 11/16/09 @2:50pm

High pressure moves offshore early on Thursday as the upper level cut-off over the Midwest finally starts to make some progress off to the northeast. The track of this low should take it across the central Great Lakes region during the day on Thursday and across southern Quebec during the day on Friday, with the bulk of the energy/dynamics with this system remaining northwest of the region. Being on the mild southeastern side of the low the region should see mainly liquid precipitation from this system, although a few pockets of freezing rain cannot be ruled out across the normally colder locales of northern New England early in the day on Friday. The highest precipitation amounts with this system should be confined to the region around the international border, with a half to three quarters of an inch expected. Further south the precipitation should be much more showery with generally under a quarter inch expected. Temperatures will continue to run above average for mid to late November with daily max temperatures running close to normal but overnight lows running several degrees above normal with insulating cloud cover.


Long-term - Issued - 11/16/09 @2:50pm


A second shortwave trough will quickly follow on the heels of the slow moving upper level system during the end of the week and the start of the weekend. With the region remaining in a very mild airmass another rainstorm is expected as the system travels up the Eastern Seaboard/Appalachians. A bit more moisture will be involved with the passage of this second system over the weekend and rainfall amounts could add up to over an inch. With deep-layer ridging remaining in place over the Western Atlantic and a Pacific airmass entrenched over much of the country, more mild weather is expected in the wake of the weekend system with temperatures to begin next week still averaging 5-10 degrees above normal. However, with the polar jet anticipated to return south over the course of Thanksgiving week, continental air will eventually bleed south from Canada into the U.S. and a decided turn towards more wintry weather countrywide should ensue to close out the month.


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Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.4 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


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Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.5 - Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


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Quiet and seasonable this week

By: sullivanweather, 7:50 PM GMT on November 06, 2009

strong>Current watches, warnings and advisories.


Eastern US current watches/warnings
Fig.2 - Current watches, warning and advisories issued by the National Weather Service. Courtesy of NOAA.

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Forecast Discussion


Synopsis - Issued 11/06/09 @2:50pm


High pressure will crest over the Northeast tonight delivering the coldest night of the season thus far for several locales. As the high moves offshore to begin the weekend a moderating trend will ensue that should bring temperatures back above normal readings by Sunday and Monday. A weak trough will slide by on Tuesday with an increase in clouds and sporadic showers. Temperatures will drop back to average, or slightly below behind the front for Wednesday before building heights and moderating temperatures return for Thursday and Friday. In all, a rather uneventful week for the Northeast.



Near-term - Issued 11/06/09 @2:50pm


A rather winter-like day this afternoon across the interior of the Northeast from central New York/northeast Pennsylvania to Maine as low clouds, flurries and blustery conditions accompany temperatures generally in the 30’s. Down along the coastal plain the cloud deck is broken but it is still blustery and chilly, with temperatures in the 40’s. Meanwhile, over the western third of the region, high pressure has managed to produce enough sinking motion in the atmosphere to disperse the cloud deck yielding mostly sunny skies. However, temperatures are still rather chilly, despite the sunshine, mostly in the 40’s although a few locales across the northern mountains of Pennsylvania remain in the mid to upper 30’s.


Short-term - Issued - 11/06/09 @2:50pm


As high pressure slowly pulls east during the evening hours the cloud cover over the Northeast will continue to break up and clear skies will eventually dominate the landscape, northern New England aside. With the cold, dry airmass in place, and clear skies and calm winds thanks to high pressure, ideal radiational cooling conditions will be present across a good chunk of the region tonight. Temperatures will fall rather quickly once the sun goes down this evening and continue to drop through the night. Lows should easily reach the low to mid 20’s across much of the interior with teens across the higher terrain of the North Country. Even down along the coastal plain temperatures should drop below freezing. In fact, the only locales that should manage to remain above freezing are the urban centers of Boston, New York and Philadelphia, Cape May and the immediate coastal locales along the Jersey Shore.

High pressure moves offshore the Outer Banks of North Carolina during the morning hours, with a return flow of warming southwesterly winds moving over the Northeast during the day on Saturday. On the heels of a 35-40kt low-level jet, 850mb temps should rise 6-10°C in the 24 hours from this afternoon to tomorrow afternoon. So despite the chilly start to the day, temperatures will rebound nicely during the morning hours and should approach normal readings by the afternoon (mid 40’s to low 50’s interior/mid/upper 50’s coastal plain). Sunshine will be filtered by an increase in high cloudiness, especially so during the afternoon as a weak trough approaches from the west.

The aforementioned weak trough will glide through the Northeast Saturday night with just an increase in clouds for most. A few sprinkles may fall across the North Country after midnight. Temperatures across the region will be close to freezing so some pockets of spotty freezing drizzle may cause some problems but this activity should be isolated at best. Further south, the precipitation chances are all but nil and the increase in cloud cover will make for a much milder night. Temperatures should range from the mid to upper 30’s across the interior to the low to mid 40’s down along the coastal plain.



Mid-term - Issued - 11/06/09 @2:50pm


After the passage of Saturday night’s trough the Northeast will see a roughly 48 hour window of rather pleasant weather. Skies will be mostly clear with a few passing high clouds Sunday and Monday, including the overnight hours. Temperatures will be rather mild, running 5-12 degrees above normal for early November. This translates into highs in the upper 50’s to low 60’s down along the coastal plain with mid to upper 50’s across the interior. For overnight lows the coastal plain will bottom out in the mid to upper 40’s with upper 30’s to low 40’s across the interior. A backdoor front will drop south on Tuesday, ending the streak of mild weather and returning temperatures back near to slightly below normal. Precipitation chances along the front will be low and mainly confined to the northern interior.


Long-term - Issued - 11/06/09 @2:50pm



It will remain quiet in the long term as high pressure crosses the region on Wednesday, then moves offshore for Thursday. Another front approaches from the west for Friday but once again, lacking moisture. Temperatures will average around normal through the period, with the warmest day on Thursday, running about 5 degrees above normal bookended by slightly below normal temperatures for Wednesday and Friday.


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Radar: Northeast Region Loop

NE radar
Fig.4 - Radar loop of the Northeast region. Courtesy of Weather Underground.


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Local SST's

Northeast SST's
Fig.5 - Sea-surface temperatures off the Northeast Coast. Courtesy of NOAA.


___________________________________________________________



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About sullivanweather

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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