Beneficial Rain Is On The Way….Or Is It?

If you’ve lived around here long enough, at some point you start to think to yourself that winter won’t ever end. You start to dream about vacations in tropical locations, or better yet, sitting in your own backyard on a sunny summer afternoon. This past summer, you probably didn’t have many complaints, as there were plenty of those sunny, warm afternoons to go around. However, because it was so sunny and warm, much of the region is now in the midst of a very serious drought.

Yup, it’s been really dry for a while now. Image provided by the National Drought Monitor.

A persistent ridge of high pressure kept the Northeast dry and warm through much of the Spring and Summer. Most of the cold fronts that tried to move through the region were starved for moisture, thus their main effects were to cool temperatures and lower humidity for a day or two. Thunderstorm activity was common, but aside from localized downpours, there really hasn’t been a widespread heavy rain event across much of the region for several months. That could be changing this week.

GFS forecast showing an upper-level low pressure area sitting over the Appalachians Friday morning. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

A slow-moving cold front will move across the region on Tuesday, bringing showers with it. While the rain likely won’t be too heavy, it should be widespread, which is good news for an area that needs all the rain it can get. The front will likely stall out right along the coastal plain, which may keep the shower activity going into Wednesday right along the coast. However, changes in the weather pattern are coming that promise to bring even more rain to the area.

An upper-level low pressure system will drop southward from the Great Lakes and take up residence across portions of the Ohio Valley and Appalachians. It will likely stay there for several days, before lifting out to the northeast this weekend. However, with the upper-level low pressure area just sitting there, low pressure will essentially remain in place at the surface as well across the same area. This will result in periods of rain and showers across much of the area right through the week. While the rain may be briefly heavy at times, persistent rainfall over several days can add up, with some areas possibly receiving 1-3 inches of rain between Tuesday and Friday, with some heavier amounts possible. Rainfall deficits in this area are on the order of 5-10 inches, so much more is needed, but this is definitely a good start.

GFS model forecast for rainfall through Saturday morning. Doesn’t look good for Northern New England. Around here? We’ll see. Image provided by Pivotal Weather.

So, if you’re in places like Pittsburgh, Syracuse, or Atlantic City, it’s going to be a pretty dismal week. Around here? Well, that’s not an easy question to answer. With the low setting up well to the southwest of the area, high pressure will try to build in from the north. This will bring cool and dry conditions into much of northern New England this week. As for southern New England, where the effects of the drought are the most pronounced, the forecast depends entirely on where the low and high set themselves up. If the high is the dominant feature, much of southern New England can expect dry and cool conditions, with gusty east to northeasterly winds bringing some clouds and drizzle in off the Atlantic at times. If the low sets up a bit closer to the region, then the forecast will trend more towards a damp scenario with periods of showers for the next several days. At this point, it’s still a little too early to tell which scenario will be the correct one. The pattern for the past several months would suggest that we stay drier. However, given what normally happens this time of year, and how the forecasts related to upper-level low pressure areas never go as planned, we wouldn’t be surprised at all if it ends up being a gray, damp week around here too. However, that’s by no means a certainty, so keep an eye on the forecast before you make any plans.

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