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Strong thunderstorm potential on Wednesday signals early autumn arrival

Dave Hayes is a self-described “weather nut” (a term he prefers to “enthusiast”) who lives in western Massachusetts, his home for almost 30 years. He operates a daily blog on Facebook (facebook.com/WesternMassWeather), where he produces hyper-local reports, answers questions, and keeps more than 20,000 followers informed and educated about the weather that will affect their plans and lives.

I hope that you’re having a good moment whenever it is that your eyes reach this printed page. I also hope that you enjoy autumnal weather conditions, because there will be no shortage of them in the coming week.

We do have a couple of chances at rain, and although it’s a low chance, we could enjoy a longer-duration rainfall this coming Sunday and Monday, if we’re lucky.

For Wednesday, we find ourselves in atmospheric transition. A southwesterly flow will already be in place, thanks to high pressure to our south and east.

Given this setup, humidity will increase, with dew point temperatures rising into the low to mid 60s, and high air temperatures reaching 80 degrees in places. If any summer lover is lucky enough to see the 80-degree mark, that will be the last time for at least a week that we reach that level of warmth.

Meanwhile, a cold front will approach from the west. The timing of its passage is uncertain at the moment. An earlier passage in the early afternoon would keep chances of strong to severe storms more at bay, while a later passage will allow the surface to heat up more.

When this happens, the gradient of temperatures from surface to sky steepens, allowing more buoyancy of air parcels, resulting in stronger thunderstorms. Wind damage, frequent lightning, and torrential rain are possible Wednesday afternoon and evening.

Low temperatures will drop quickly into the 40s and 50s as cool, dry Canadian air spills into southern Vermont.

Thursday will be the coolest day of the approaching cold season so far, with highs only in the 60s, and lows in the 40s. Friday and Saturday are partly to mostly sunny with highs in the low to mid 70s.

The Sunday through Tuesday period has a big question mark painted on it. A warm front will be approaching the region, but it’s possible that it stalls out into Sunday night, allowing a shortwave (i.e. small low pressure system) to move along it and bring a prolonged period of showery weather Sunday into Monday, and perhaps even into Tuesday.

If the front continues to travel north, we can expect some showers and thunderstorms on Sunday and Sunday night, with fair weather Monday and Tuesday. Either way, expect highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #374 (Wednesday, September 14, 2016). This story appeared on page A6.

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