Severe weather threatens Saturday

June 16, 2017: Stay weather aware this weekend! We’ve had an active week, and the weather doesn’t look to settle down anytime soon.

For starters, storms overnight and into Saturday morning will play a big role. The quicker those leave and the sky clears up, the sooner the atmosphere can re-energize. The more they linger, the less likely severe weather occurs. However, there is a good chance that we get some clearing in the late morning to early afternoon. There isn’t much for forcing to get storms going again in the early afternoon, so odds are we’ll have a lot of good dry time to enjoy on Saturday.

Late in the afternoon and early evening, storms look to pop up again as the day heats up. These storms should be more isolated, but could produce large hail. Something to keep an eye on.

Finally, in the late evening to early overnight hours, widespread showers and storms are likely. This time period is when our highest chances for storms occur, and also our highest chances for severe weather.

Damaging winds and large hail are the main threats, but tornadoes and flash flooding can’t be ruled out either. This likely occurs after 7 pm Saturday, and wraps up around midnight that night.

 

Do yourself a favor and check your downspouts, weather radio, and where you park your car for the day, to make sure that’s in a sheltered spot. There will be plenty of time to enjoy the weather outdoors, but have a back up plan and a sheltered spot in mind. Have someone in your group be the designated “weather watcher”, keeping an eye on the radar and an eye out for any weather alerts or updates.

If severe weather does cross your path Saturday, remember to get to the lowest level of the place you are in, and away from windows. Be ready for power outages, and possible damage to windows and siding. In the event of a tornado, again, get to the lowest level, preferably a basement, or evacuate a mobile or trailer home and get to a storm shelter.

We’ll have updates throughout Saturday on-air, on our website, and on Facebook and Twitter as the situation evolves.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 16, 2017
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Quiet for now, then the heat goes back on

June 6, 2017: Enjoying the quiet, comfortable weather so far this week? It’s been nice to take a break from the sudden blast of summer heat that arrived last weekend.

High pressure keeps northeasterly winds around, so our forecast stays roughly the same until Friday.

Futuretrack RPM model valid June 6 for Friday, June 9th, 2017. Scattered showers and thunderstorms are possible early in the morning, then a second round potentially in the afternoon.

By Friday, scattered showers and thunderstorms pop up early Friday morning, with a second chance in the afternoon.

After that, we say “good-bye” to the cooler northeasterly flow, and “hello” to windy conditions from the southwest. This blows in the high heat and humidity again, so Saturday through early next week will hover around 90° (if not into the 90’s for a few days). Get the fans, A/C, and backyard pools ready!

We typically see 15 days on average in the 90’s in Rockford each year. We already have one, and may double or triple that mark by early next week.

Stay cool, friends!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 6, 2017
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What’s a “named storm”? (Hurricane season is here)

June 1, 2017: Welcome to June, the start of meteorological summer, and the start of the hurricane season, which runs through November 30th.

The forecasts for the 2017 season call for an above average amount of tropical storms, due to warmer than average sea surface temperatures, a weak to nonexistent El Niño this summer, and weak vertical wind shear. The National Hurricane Center is forecasting 11-17 named storms, of which 5-9 may be hurricanes, and 2-4 of those hurricanes may be major hurricanes.

You may be asking yourself after reading here or hearing about the forecast: what exactly is a named storm?

A named storm is a storm over the tropics with sustained winds over 39 mph. These are called tropical storms, and when the storms reach this strength, they get a name to help identify the threat as long as it’s around. In the forecast listed above, we may see 11-17 storms of at least tropical storm strength. The number already includes Tropical Storm Arlene, which was a rare April storm.

The next level up is the hurricanes. These are storms have to have sustained winds over 74 mph. They keep the name given to them as a tropical storm. Out of the pool of 11-17 tropical storms, 5-9 of those may become hurricanes. Just like with tornadoes, there are various levels of hurricanes based on their strength. Major hurricanes are classified as Category 3, 4, or 5 storms, with winds over 111 mph (Category 3). Of the predicted 5-9 hurricanes, 2-4 of those may reach “major” strength.

For fun, here’s the list of the names that will be used for the tropical storm/hurricanes this year:

               Click on the image to zoom in.

Again, Arlene has already been used in April, so Bret would be the next storm name up.  Thankfully, we don’t have to worry about hurricanes here in northern Illinois, but you may know someone on the East or Gulf Coast. It’ll be fun to watch from afar to see how the season plays out. The National Hurricane Center usually updates its forecast in August, right during the peak of hurricane season.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 1, 2017
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Putting a bow on May

May 31, 2017: That’s a wrap for May!

While there were a handful of warm days, the month ultimately ended up a little below average for temperatures.

May also marks the end of meteorological spring. May wasn’t as rainy as April, but we had enough wet weather to vault us into the top ten for wettest Springs on record.

Looking ahead to June, the Climate Prediction Center shows our area as likely staying near average for temperatures. Heading south and west, below average weather is possible from southern Illinois into spots in Iowa.

Some of those same areas could see a wetter than average June. For the Stateline, the region should stay near average for rainfall as well.

So, what’s average for June? Here’s a list of average highs and rainfall amounts. We should stay near these values each day. If we do see well above average weather, it may be countered with below average weather to equal us out. This summer is supposed to be warmer than average for us, so look for hotter weather potentially in July and August!

-Alex

 

 

 

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 31, 2017
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Drying Out, Rainy End to Week?

May 30, 2017: Rain is leaving the forecast for a few nights!

High pressure dives in from Canada, keeping the weather clear (sunny), dry, and a little on the cooler side.

Later this week, we’ll see warmer weather (and more humid conditions) return by Friday as highs try to get back to 80°. With the added warmth, however, comes a few chances for rain. A couple areas of low pressure drive a series of fronts through our area. Depending how quickly the fronts move through, we could have either a lot of rounds of rain, or just a few, mainly on Friday.

For now, it looks as though one warm front provides a chance for rain Friday morning, with a cold front developing a chance for rain Friday afternoon and evening. The farther west low and cold front sweep through between Saturday and Sunday, leaving us with a lot of soggy weather, or a little on Saturday and not much for Sunday.

Either way, plan ahead for rain on Friday, with the weekend to be determined.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 30, 2017
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New week brings spotty showers and a cool, stubborn pattern

May 29, 2017: The weather has been pretty nice lately, and timed out well with the holiday weekend. We just can’t seem to shake the slightly cool weather pattern, with more cooler-than-average days coming this week.

For starters, spotty rain showers will be the theme the next few evenings. An upper level low is parked over Canada north of Lake Superior, driving a lot of the weather we’ll see through Thursday. Wrinkles in the jet stream are riding around the upper low like spokes on a bicycle wheel, kicking up almost daily chances for quick showers. One “spoke” is riding through tonight, with another arriving tomorrow. We won’t see much rain from all of this, but this is the reason we see a little rain in the forecast through Tuesday.

This pattern also keeps our temperatures down a little through Thursday. The pattern is called an “omega blocking pattern” since it looks like the Greek letter Omega. The omega shape forces weather systems to go north and south rather than the usual east and west, “blocking” any changes to our weather pattern. That means the colder air stays in place for us for now, while the warmer weather shoots into the Rockies. We’ll see this slow moving pattern slide out by the end of Thursday, providing some “average” weather in the middle 70’s by Friday.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 29, 2017
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Holiday travel weather updates

May 25, 2017: Depending on when you hit the road or take to the sky Friday, you may have to deal with some wet weather as we get into the holiday weekend.

Futuretrack valid May 25 2017 for Friday evening

Models are converging on an outlook showing a round of showers and thunderstorms working through during Friday afternoon and early evening. Be ready for wet roads and possibly a quick downpour or two.

Severe weather outlook for Friday (valid May 25, 2017)

There is also a low risk for severe weather south of I-88, mainly in the form of wind and hail. If you are traveling southward, keep a close eye on the scattered storms as they develop.

Both Saturday and Sunday are trending dry. There is a slight chance for rain and storms Saturday evening and night, but those storms are trending south of our area and may miss us altogether. Scattered afternoon showers may pop up again by Memorial Day as cooler weather enters the picture.

Nationally, severe storms look possible around Denver Friday afternoon, with a potential severe weather outbreak centered on Oklahoma into Saturday.

Wet weather should be leaving the East Coast throughout Friday, so flight delays should be at a minimal (at least because of weather).

Travel safe this weekend!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 25, 2017
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Holiday weekend outlook

May 24, 2017: Memorial Day Weekend is approaching fast, and of course, there’s a little rain in the forecast. The details are still being fleshed out, but plan on occasional rain showers this weekend.

Outlook for the holiday weekend (valid May 24, 2017)

The rain chances start with a round of potential showers starting late Friday morning. Here is an example on Futuretack on how one model looks for the weekend:

GFS model valid May 24, 2017 for Friday. Situation may change closer to Friday.

There is some disagreement among the models about whether the rain will hit or miss us; most of the models are agreeing on a dry Friday evening, which bodes well for travelers and City Market go-er’s alike.

GFS model valid May 24, 2017 for Saturday. Situation may change closer to Saturday.

Saturday, for now, looks dry for much of the day, but a round of heavy showers and storms is possible for Saturday evening. Again, the picture will get clearer on if and when the storms hit the area, but have a back-up plan or a dry location in mind for Saturday evening, just in case.

GFS model valid May 24, 2017 for Monday. Situation may change closer to Monday.

Sunday is looking dry for now, then there are low chances for scattered rainfall on Memorial Day as temperatures cool off. We’ll be in the middle 70’s for much of the weekend, then dropping to the upper 60’s on Monday.  We’ll have updates as the forecast evolves throughout the week!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 24, 2017
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A few funnel clouds popped up today

May 23, 2017: If you were lucky, you may have seen an interesting (and at times, a scary looking) weather phenomenon today amidst the rain showers and cloudy weather. The atmosphere was set up for cold air funnel clouds, which have the appearance of a normal funnel cloud we seen during severe weather. These funnels, however, are usually harmless.

Here’s the environment necessary to get the cold air funnels: there needs to be a layer of shallow, cold air in place- this usually happens behind a cold front, like we had move through today. As the shallow cold air mixes with the air above it, if you can get winds moving at different directions as you rise through the atmosphere, you can get a weak rotation going. This rotation forms a weak funnel cloud, high up in the clouds.

Because the rotation is high in the clouds, it rarely reaches the ground. However, if you ever see a funnel cloud reaching toward the ground, head to shelter quickly.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 23, 2017
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Summer 2017 Outlook

May 22, 2017: Now that there’s less than 10 days left in May, let’s look ahead to the summer! Meteorological summer starts up June 1, with the official start of summer on June 20.

The current outlook by the Climate Prediction Center shows that we could be in for a warmer summer than usual. Most of the Midwest looks to be at least a little above average, unless you visit Minnesota, western Wisconsin, or Iowa.

That means we may get many more days in the middle to upper 80’s, if not the 90’s. For reference, Rockford usually sees 15 days in the 90’s each year, on average. The last 3 summer have been below that mark, though 2015 and 2016 only missed by a few days. Nighttime temperatures may be closer to 70 degrees than they usually are. Fans of a hot summer may get their wish, but this also means higher energy bills as we may be running our A/C or fans more often.

Does this mean we’ll have a blazing hot summer? Likely not. We may see see a few more high 80° to 90° days than we usually do. The chances for a blazing hot summer increase the farther east you go, where the East Coast may be looking at a potential scorcher.

The Climate Prediction Center is also showing a near average summer for rainfall, which is around 13″ for rain in Rockford. We’ve already had more rain than that this spring, with a few more rainy days to go. If we jump into the 14″ range or higher, this will easily go down as one of the top 10 wettest springs on record.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 22, 2017
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