Tropical Weather

Tropical Trouble? Several Storms Could Threaten Land Areas

The peak of hurricane season is normally a 6-week period from late August until late September. This year is no exception. We currently have five active tropical systems that we’re tracking, and more may be on the way. Of the five that are currently out there, all of them are a threat to some land areas, four of them to parts of the United States.

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Satellite photo and forecast track for Hurricane Madeline. Image provided by the Central Pacific Hurricane Center.

We’ll start in the Central Pacific where Hurricane Madeline is bearing down on parts of the Hawaiian Islands. As of 8am HST Tuesday, Hurricane Madeline was centered about 415 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii, moving towards the west at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 120 mph, making Madeline a Category 3 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  A Hurricane Watch and Tropical Storm Warning have been issued for the Big Island of Hawaii, and a Tropical Storm Watch has been issued for Maui County, including the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. It is extremely rarely for a storm impact Hawaii as a hurricane when moving in from the east. The current forecast calls for Madeline to pass just south of the Big Island with some weakening expected. Most hurricanes that impact Hawaii are traveling from south to north. Madeline should pass close enough to Hawaii to bring strong winds and heavy rain to some of the southernmost islands. Rainfall totals of 5-10 inches and locally heavier are possible, especially in the windward sides of the islands. Rough surf will pound most of the islands for the next several days.

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Satellite loop of Hurricane Lester. Loop provided by NOAA.

Next up is Hurricane Lester, which was centered about 1350 miles east of Hilo, Hawaii at midday, moving toward the west at 14 mph. Lester has top winds near 120 mph, is expected to steadily weaken over the next few days while continuing in a general westward direction. While Lester is not a threat to land for the next few days, that could change by the end of the week. The current track calls for Lester to gradually turn more towards the west-northwest and northwest by Friday and Saturday, passing a little north of the Hawaiian Islands. While this track would likely spare the islands from most of the wind and rain, if Lester makes that turn a bit later, it would pass a lot closer to the islands. Residents of Hawaii should make sure to keep tabs on Lester’s progress once Madeline moves away from the region.

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Model forecasts for the track of Hurricane Gaston. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

Closer to the mainland we find Tropical Depression Eight. The storm was centered about 70 miles south of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina early Tuesday afternoon and was nearly stationary. Maximum sustained winds are near 35 mph. A slow drift toward the north is expected tonight and Wednesday, with some strengthening possible as the storm moves over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream. A Tropical Storm Warning is in effect for the coast of North Carolina from Cape Lookout to Oregon Inlet. Wins gusts to 30-40 mph and locally heavy rainfall are expected over the Outer Banks of North Carolina tonight and Wednesday. After that, the system should start to head out into the Atlantic and dissipate by later in the week.

Finally, we get to Tropical Depression Nine, which was centered about 340 miles west of Key West, Florida at midday Tuesday. The storm has maximum sustained winds of 35 mph, and was moving towards the west-northwest at 7 mph. This is the same storm we’ve been watching for a week-and-a-half that was supposed to be the next “Storm of the Century”. Well, it might finally be starting to get its act together. The forecast for this system calls for a turn more towards the north and eventually northeast as an upper-level trough of low pressure starts to steer the system. Strengthening is expected, and the depression could become a tropical storm tonight or early Wednesday. Tropical Storm Watches will likely be issued for parts of the Gulf Coast later today or tonight. Some of the models show the possibility of the storm becoming a hurricane before making landfall along the Florida Gulf Coast later this week. Once it makes landfall, it should quickly cross the Southeast, then emerge into the Atlantic, where some re-strengthening is possible. The system will likely bring heavy rain and gusty winds to parts of the Carolinas, but beyond that its future is uncertain. Some models indicate that it will continue northeastward, out into the Atlantic, while others try to slow it down and head northward up the East Coast in a much-weakened state. Since this could have an adverse impact on the Labor Day Weekend up here, we need to pay close attention to it.

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Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Depression Nine. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

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Model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Depression Nine. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

Finally, a new tropical wave has emerged from the coast of Africa. This wave will cross the Cape Verde Islands tonight, then head westward across the Atlantic. Conditions are favorable for further development, and many of the forecast models show the possibility of this system strengthening over the next several days. It is still at least 5 days away from impacting the eastern Caribbean, so there is plenty of time to monitor its progress before it threatens any land areas. If it does do what the models are showing, expect the hype machine to get cranked up to maximum again, as the next “Storm of the Century of the Week” could be a threat to the East Coast.

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Tropical Weather, Weekly Outlook

Weekly Outlook August 29-September 5, 2016

In a lot of ways, this week will be very similar to last week. That shouldn’t be a big surprise, we’ve been stuck in the same weather pattern for nearly the entire summer.

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These are called windshield wipers. You use them to clean the rain off of your windshield. Most of you probably haven’t used them much in the past few months.

Just like last week, we’ll start the week off with a cold front crossing the region early Monday. It may produce a few showers early this morning, but that’s about it. High pressure briefly builds in for Tuesday with drier conditions, then another cold front moves through on Wednesday. It may produce a few showers or thunderstorms late Wednesday. After that, high pressure builds in for the rest of the week and into the Labor Day Weekend with cooler and drier conditions. Dewpoints will likely be in the 40s again from Thursday into Saturday.

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Satellite loop of Major Hurricane Gaston. To quote a friend “Now that’s an atmospheric heat engine.” Loop provided by NOAA.

That large high pressure area building in will also be a “deflector shield” of sorts. There are currently three tropical systems in the Atlantic, and two of them, are not far from the US mainland. First we have Major Hurricane Gaston. Gaston has maximum sustained winds near 120 mph, making it a Category 3 Hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. Gaston is centered about 575 miles east of Bermuda tonight. Unless you’re in the middle of a Trans-Atlantic cruise, then you don’t have to worry about Gaston, as it will be heading out over the open Atlantic, no threat to any land areas. Gaston will start to send some rough seas our way though, so if you are planning on heading to the beach this week, be alert, as there will be a higher than now risk for riptides.

Closer to home, Tropical Depression Eight developed on Sunday. TD 8 has top winds near 35 mph, and is centered about 285 miles southeast of North Carolina. The forecast calls for TD 8 to strengthen into a tropical storm late Monday. Since it is expected to turn towards the northwest, a tropical storm watch has been issued for the Outer Banks of North Carolina from Cape Lookout to Oregon Inlet. After brushing the Outer Banks late Tuesday, it will turn more towards the north and northeast, merging with the cold front that will cross our region on Wednesday.

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Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Depression Eight. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.

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Model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Depression Eight. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.

We also have Tropical Depression Nine, centered about 100 miles southwest of Key West, Florida and just off the north coast of Cuba tonight. This is the system that has been relentlessly hyped by many in the media and on the Internet (but not this site) for the past week plus as the next “Storm of the Century”. It finally developed a circulation center Sunday afternoon, and was deemed a tropical depression. If you believed many of the computer models and “Facebook Forecasters” earlier in the week, it was supposed to hit south Florida as a hurricane yesterday. Right now, it looks like the storm should turn more to the north while strengthening into a tropical storm over the next day or two. A track towards the Big Bend of Florida seems most likely at this point, but as this storm has shown already, it will do (or not do) what it wants to. Assuming it does track towards Florida, it should cross the Southeast, then emerge off the coast of Georgia or northeastern Florida. Once there, it will move over the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and could strengthen once again. However, with a big high pressure area to the north (we told you that we’d tie that in eventually), a track up the coast is unlikely. Instead, the system will likely head out into the open Atlantic.

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Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Depression Nine. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

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Model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Depression Nine. Image provided by Tropical Tidbits.

So, here’s what we can expect around here right through and including Labor Day:

Monday: Chance for a few showers early, then becoming partly to mostly sunny. High 84-91.

Monday night: Clear skies. Low 56-63.

Tuesday: Partly to mostly sunny. High 78-85.

Tuesday night: Clear to partly cloudy. Low 60-67.

Wednesday: A mix of sun and clouds, chance for showers and thunderstorms during the late afternoon and evening hours.High 83-90.

Thursday: Partly sunny. High 75-82.

Friday: Intervals of sunshine and clouds.High 71-78.

Saturday: Sunshine and a few pop-up clouds.High 72-79.

Sunday: Mostly sunny. High 75-82.

Labor Day: Plenty of sunshine.High 77-84.

 

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Tropical Weather

A Little Sizzle, a Lot of Fizzle (and Probably Some Drizzle) in the Tropics

As we get into the end of August, we are moving into the peak of hurricane season. As expected, the tropics have awakened, with plenty of activity to watch, but thus far, much of it remains disorganized.

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In addition to Tropical Storm Gaston, there are 3 disturbances being watched in the Atlantic. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

Starting in the Atlantic, we have Tropical Storm Gaston. Gaston was centered about 900 miles east-southeast of Bermuda Friday evening, moving towards the northwest at 15 mph. While Gaston was briefly upgraded to a hurricane earlier in the week, it currently has maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. Conditions are favorable for Gaston to strengthen this weekend and become a hurricane once again. The storm should turn more toward the north and eventually northeast, remaining over open waters into the start of the upcoming week.

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Current water temperatures across the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and Southwest Atlantic Ocean. A storm moving into this bath water could strengthen quickly. Image provided by WeatherBell.

A disorganized area of showers and thunderstorms is moving across the Central Bahamas this evening. This is the same storm that everyone on the Internet has been hyping up as next “Storm of the Century” for the past week. As you can see, it still hasn’t done anything, but that hasn’t stopped the hype at all. Conditions will be unfavorable into the weekend for any development of this system. Several models are still showing the potential for the system to develop once it gets into the Gulf of Mexico. Water temperatures are very warm across the Gulf, which would help to fuel any developing system. Will it ever develop? We’ll find out one way or the other in the next few days. Anyone with interests in and around the Gulf Coast should still keep an eye on the progress of this system, just in case it finally gets its act together.

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Expected rainfall through Monday evening. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Meanwhile, there is a weak trough of low pressure already located in the northern Gulf of Mexico this is being watched. Upper-level conditions are not favorable for development of this system, but it will bring heavy rainfall to portions of Louisiana and Texas this weekend. This is not good news for areas that were hit hard by flooding just a few weeks ago.

Another disturbance has developed just south of Bermuda this evening. This system is expected to remain weak for the next few days while moving very little. Eventually it should start drifting westward, and some slow development is possible. This system may bring some showers and thunderstorms to Bermuda this weekend and parts of eastern North Carolina during the early part of the upcoming week, but otherwise should not have much of an impact on any land areas.

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Model forecasts for the track of a disturbance south of Bermuda. Image provided by NCAR.

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Model forecasts for the intensity of a disturbance south of Bermuda. Image provided by NCAR.

While the Atlantic is filled with potential tropical systems, the Pacific has a couple of named systems, one of which could be a threat to land.

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Satellite loop of Hurricane Lester. Loop provided by NOAA.

Hurricane Lester was centered about 550 miles southwest of Cabo San Lucas, Mexico Friday evening. Lester has maximum sustained winds near 75 mph, and additional strengthening is expected. Lester is currently moving toward the west at 9 mph, and a general westerly track is expected to continue through the weekend. Lester is not a threat to land for the next several days, however, some models are showing that it could have some impacts of Hawaii towards next weekend.

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Model forecasts for the track of Tropical Storm Madeline. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.

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Model forecasts for the intensity of Tropical Storm Madeline. Image provided by the University of Wisconsin.

Tropical Storm Madeline could be a more immediate threat to Hawaii. Tropical Depression 14-E developed earlier on Friday about 1250 miles east-southeast of Hilo, Hawaii, and was upgraded to Tropical Storm Madeline Friday evening. Madeline has maximum sustained winds near 40 mph, and additional strengthening is expected. Madeline could become a hurricane by the end of the weekend or beginning of next week. The storm is expected to track towards the northwest this weekend before turning more towards the west. On this track, Madeline could approach the Hawaiian Islands towards midweek. Residents of the region should keep an eye on Madeline’s progress during the next few days.

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Forecast track for Typhoon 12W (Lionrock). Image provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

In the Western Pacific, Typhoon 12W Lionrock (Is that not the coolest name you’ve seen in a while for a tropical system?) has been slowly meandering around south of Japan for much of the past week, but that looks like it is about to change. As of Friday evening, the storm has maximum sustained winds near 110 mph, and some additional strengthening is possible this weekend. A track toward the northeast is expected this weekend, but a turn more toward the north and eventually northwest is likely by Sunday or Monday. On this track, the typhoon would make landfall in southeastern or eastern Japan on Monday.

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Tropical Weather, Weekly Outlook

Weekly Outlook August 22-28, 2016

As we start off the last full week of meteorological summer, some things will remain the same as they have for months – there will be very little rainfall, worsening an already severe drought across the region. Some things will change though – humidity levels will drop at least for a few days and so will temperatures.

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The only place in Southern New England not currently classified as being in drought is Nantucket Island. Image provided by the US Drought Monitor.

The week will start off with a little rain. However, by the time most of you read this, the rain will already have ended. A cold front will cross the region early Monday morning with showers and possibly thunderstorms. The rain should end towards daybreak, then skies will quickly clear out as the front pushes offshore. After that, high pressure builds in, with much drier air for Monday and Tuesday. How dry? How does dewponts in the 40s sound?  Temperatures will actually be near or a little below normal as well. By Wednesday, the high moves offshore, winds become southwesterly, and both the temperature and humidity start to rise again. On Friday, another cold front sweeps across the region, with a few showers and thunderstorms expected. Cooler and drier air returns next weekend.

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Just in case you forgot, this is called an umbrella. You use it to keep yourself dry when it rains. Most of you probably haven’t seen one for months.

Monday: Showers ending around daybreak, then becoming partly to mostly sunny, breezy, and less humid. High 76-83.

Monday night: Clear skies. Low 53-60.

Tuesday: Wall-to-wall sunshine. High 75-82.

Tuesday night: Clear skies. Low 54-61.

Wednesday: Sunshine and a few clouds. High 83-90.

Thursday: Partly to mostly sunny. High 82-89.

Friday: A mix of sun and clouds with afternoon showers and thunderstorms possible. High 83-90.

Saturday: Mostly sunny. High 79-86.

Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny. High 77-84.

As this post is being written, Typhoon 10W (Mindulle) is making landfall very close to Tokyo. That’s probably not good. If you’re looking for an update on the massive hurricane that’s supposed to wipe out the East Coast just before Labor Day, then you’re out of luck. because it’s a fantasy that will not likely happen. Oh, we’ve got plenty of activity – Tropical Depression Fiona is dying southeast of Bermuda. There are two other areas we’re watching, one of which could become a tropical depression on Monday. The odds of either of those impacting the East Coast are still fairly small though. If there is a potential threat, we’ll let you know all about it.

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Radar image of Typhoon 10W (Mindulle) making landfall near Tokyo. Image provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

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Tropical Weather

Potential Hurricane Next Week? Let’s Worry About Real Systems First

OK, let’s dispense with this right away – despite what you may have seen or heard about online today, the odds of a hurricane hitting the East Coast next week are still fairly small. Just because a couple of computer models are showing that possibility does not make it a fact. The “storm” in question hasn’t even formed yet, and may not form this weekend (or at all).

Having said that, the tropics are getting active. In the Northern Hemisphere, tropical activity normally peaks during the latter half of August and much of September. So far, it looks like 2016 will follow that pattern, as there are currently five active systems around the world, and a couple of other areas being monitored for development.

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Satellite image showing three active tropical systems and a potential system in the Western Pacific Ocean. Image provided by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

The most active area right now is the Western Pacific Ocean, where there are three active systems, a third that is dissipating in northern Vietnam, and another disturbance that could develop in the next day or two.

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Forecast track for Tropical Storm 10W (Mindulle). Image provided by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

Tropical Storm 10W (Mindulle) is probably the most immediate threat to land. The system is located several hundred miles east of Japan, moving towards the northwest at 10 mph. Maximum sustained winds are near 50 mph, and additional strengthening is expected. Mindulle could become a typhoon this weekend. Computer model forecasts indicate a northerly track over the next few days, with landfall possible in southern Japan towards the end of the weekend or beginning of next week.

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Forecast track for Tropical Storm 12W (Lionrock). Image provide by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

Tropical Storm 12W (Lionrock) is actually closer to the south coast of Japan right now than Tropical Storm Mindulle, but is less of a threat. Lionrock is expected to head westward to southwestward over the next few days, with some slow strengthening expected. Lionrock could threat some of the islands southwest of Japan during the early to middle portion of next week.

Elsewhere in the Western Pacific, Tropical Storm 11W (Dianmu) made landfall in northern Vietnam earlier today. The system will continue moving inland while dissipating. It will continue to bring heavy rain to parts of the region, with flooding likely. Another disturbance in the Western Pacific, located about 1000 miles southeast of Japan, is being monitored for development. The system could become a tropical depression this weekend while heading on a general northwesterly track. It could be a threat to parts of northern and eastern Japan towards the middle of next week.

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Forecast track for Tropical Storm Kay. Image provided by the National Hurricane Center.

In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Kay has formed. As of midday Friday, Kay had top winds near 40 mph and was passing very close to Socorro Island, off the coast of Mexico. Some slight strengthening is possible tonight and Saturday before Kay moves over colder waters and starts to weaken and eventually dissipate. Once Kay moves away from Socorro Island this afternoon and evening, it should not be a threat to any land areas.

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Satellite loop of Tropical Storm Fiona. Image provided by NOAA.

Finally, we get to the Atlantic, where we have Tropical Storm Fiona. As of Midday Friday, Fiona was centered about 1300 miles west of the Cape Verde Islands, moving towards the west-northwest at 10 mph. Top winds are near 45 mph, but conditions are not favorable for additional strengthening. Indications are that Fiona should remain a weak system over the open waters of the Central Atlantic right through the weekend, with no threat to any land areas.

Farther to the east, a tropical wave located about 600 miles southwest of the Cape Verde Islands, is being monitored for further development. The system should remain weak through the weekend, but conditions should become favorable for development as it moves into the Central Atlantic Ocean by the beginning on next week. Many of the computer models are forecasting the system to develop into an organized tropical system during that time frame. If these forecasts are correct, the system could become a threat to the islands in the eastern and northeastern Caribbean by the middle of next week. Anyone with interests in that region should keep an eye on the system and it’s progression.

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Computer model forecasts for the track of a disturbance in the Central Atlantic. Image provided by WeatherBell.

What this system does once it gets past the islands is pure speculation at this point, assuming it even develops and gets that far. Just based on some of the computer models today, it will either A) Not develop at all, B) Stay over water the entire time and never threaten land, except possibly Bermuda, or C) Make landfall just before Labor Day Weekend somewhere between the Central Gulf Coast and Newfoundland. If you hear someone say something about the “hurricane that’s going to hit the East Coast next week”, then they don’t have a clue as to what they’re talking about. It’s pure hype ad speculation, and we’ll have no part of it.

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Weekly Outlook

Weekly Outlook August 15-21, 2016

Cold fronts and warm fronts commonly pass through our area every few days during most of the year, except in the summer. During the summer, since the jet stream is usually fairly far to the north, we may see a frontal passage once a week, sometimes even less frequently. This week, that will not be the case. We’re going to have several frontal passages. Oh, it’ll be the same front the first few times, but it’ll come through several times.

By now, you’re probably pretty confused, so we’ll explain. Late on Sunday, we had a cold front move across the region. As high pressure builds in behind it, drier weather will settle in on Monday. Meanwhile, that front will stall out to our south. As the high slides offshore, southerly winds around the high will send that front back northward, this time as a warm front. as a result, the humidity will return on Tuesday. Some showers and thunderstorms will likely accompany the warm front. A wave of low pressure will then ride along this front on Wednesday, which will send it back across the region, this time as a cold front (again). At this point, we’re probably done with that front, but wait, there’s another one coming! That one will also be a cold front. It may trigger a few showers and thunderstorms late Thursday or early Friday before it moves through.That front will most likely stall out to our south, but for now at least, it doesn’t look like it comes back this way. Instead, high pressure builds in for next weekend, with cooler conditions, thanks to easterly winds off the Atlantic. So, to recap, one front comes through three times, and a second one comes through one. Got it? Good. (Just be glad we didn’t have any occluded fronts to deal with.)

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Just remember, things could be worse. You could live in Louisiana, where up to 30″ of rain fell just last week. Image provided by WeatherBell.

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny and less humid. High 84-91.

Monday night: Partly cloudy. Low 64-71.

Tuesday: A mix of sun and clouds, humid, chance for showers and thunderstorms, especially in the afternoon. High 81-88.

Tuesday night: Partly to mostly cloudy, a few lingering showers and storms, mainly in the evening. Low 68-75.

Wednesday: Partly sunny, slight chance for a shower or thunderstorm. High 80-87.

Thursday: A mix of sun and clouds. High 83-90.

Friday: Partly sunny, chance for showers and thunderstorms. High 80-87.

Saturday: Intervals of clouds and sunshine with a chance for showers. High 77-84.

Sunday: More clouds than sunshine, a shower or two is possible. High 76-83.

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Dewpoints in the 50s Monday afternoon? Sounds good to us! Don’t worry, the bad hair days return on Tuesday. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

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Extreme Temperatures

Here Comes the Heat and Humidity

It’s been a warm and dry summer for most of the region, but the next few days will feature some very hot weather and unlike much of the summer, some extreme humidity.

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Some much-needed rain fell across Southern New England today. Loop provided by the College of DuPage.

A weak upper-level disturbance moved across the region this morning, bringing some much needed rainfall to the region. The cloud cover and rainfall has kept temperatures mainly in the 70s to lower 80s, but dewpoints have jumped into the upper 60s and 70s across the area. That moisture is going to remain in place for the next several days, but will be accompanied by some very hot weather.

Once some patchy fog burns off Thursday morning, we;ll have sunshine across the area. Since we’re going to start the day in the 70s, temperatures will quickly spike into the 80s and 90s by midday. South to southwest winds will keep temperatures in the 80s along the south coast, but elsewhere, highs will soar well into 90s. When you factor in the humidity, the heat index will be near or just over 100 degrees. As a result, a heat advisory has been issued for much of eastern Massachusetts from Noon until 7pm on Thursday. If your plans include outdoor activities, make sure you follow the usual precautions – drink plenty of liquids and stay out of the sun as much as possible.

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Heat index forecast for Thursday afternoon. Image provided by the National Weather Service.

Thursday isn’t the only hot day though, and in fact, it might not even be the hottest day this week. Friday will feature conditions similar to Thursday, but Saturday could be even hotter. Temperatures will soar well into the 90s once again, with heat indices topping 100 across much of the region.

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Heat index forecast for 5pm Saturday based on the NAM model. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

While some showers and thunderstorms may pop up both Friday and Saturday afternoons to provide a little relief from the heat, it’s an approaching cold front that will bring an end to the heat wave. When that front arrives is still a big question mark. Some models want to bring the front through the region Saturday night, while others wait until later on Sunday. This obviously has a big impact on temperatures for Sunday across the region. What the models all agree on is that the front will stall out near the area at some point on Sunday, and then waves of low pressure will ride along the front. South of the front temperatures will still be in the 80s to lower 90s  with fairly high humidity, while north of the front temperatures will be in the 70s to lower 80s with lower humidity. The waves riding along the front will likely bring in some beneficial rainfall later Sunday into Monday, before the front finally pushes farther to the south. Neither day should be a washout, but we certainly need the rain. We’ll have more details on that later in the week as things become a little clearer.

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