Say It Ain’t Snow!

All eyes have been on a system approaching this weekend that’s set to bring us measurable snowfall.

The timing of this system seems to be pretty consistent among forecasting models. Snow should start moving into the Stateline on Saturday evening, and  continue to give us snow throughout Sunday morning, afternoon, and even through the evening. However, by the time we head into Sunday evening, we’re talkin’ light snow. Which leads me to the next point- when are we talking the heaviest snow? Starting at 12AM Sunday (midnight Saturday) and lasting through lunch on Sunday is when we’ll see the heaviest snowfall across the Stateline.

1-30-15 tiome

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We won’t be seeing the heaviest snowfall out of the system. The bulk of the precipitation stays to our south, keeping us out of the “bullseye.” But don’t put the shovels away just yet! I’m anticipating 2-4″ of snow to fall across the Stateline, with places along I-88 to fall on the higher end of that spectrum. We cool down to the single digits overnight on Sunday, making way for icy conditions on your Monday commute.

1-30-15 expect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stick with us throughout this evening and through the weekend as we continue to track this system!

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This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on January 30, 2015
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Lacking Snow

January 28, 2015: This winter has been rather lacking.  Overall, the temperatures have been manageable and mild, which has been nice. The snowfall, though, especially for winter sport and activity enthusiasts, has been sporadic and underwhelming.

There have been 9 total days with measureable snowfall.

There have been 9 total days with measurable snowfall.

So far this winter, we’ve had nine total days with meaning snowfall (21 days if you add in the 12 days with a trace (a dusting) of snowfall).  That puts us at over a foot below average this winter (mostly because of December; January isn’t far below average). We haven’t had a snowfall above 3″ yet either, and the majority of our snowfall total fell over a 4 day span in early January.

This should be the last time we have snowfall this month. February 1st is our next chance, so the new month is starting out on the right foot, if you like snow. There aren’t any strong indication one way or the other right now as to how snowy February will be, so we’ll have to wait and see if next month can make up for the lack of snow so far this winter.

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 28, 2015
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Stuck in the Middle

January 27, 2015: Our current weather pattern meant more of the same today: lots of clouds, dry, and average temperatures near 30 degrees.  We’ll have more of the same tomorrow too, though temperatures will be a little warmer.  Two different extremes were going on in other parts of the country: cold and very snowy on the one end, and record-breaking warmth on the other. Lucky us – we missed out on the “spring fever”…but we also didn’t get a blast of cold (yet).

Here’s the high temperature map from today. 70’s were felt across a lot of the heart of the nation, with records falling in a few spots like Rapid City.

High temperatures for Jan. 27

High temperatures for Jan. 27

Note the high arc (ridge) in the jet stream where the heat is, and the deep dip (trough) where the cold weather is settling in. Those ridges and troughs help dictate our temperatures throughout the year.

Jet stream and satellite and radar for Jan. 27 (8 PM)

Jet stream and satellite and radar for Jan. 27 (8 PM)

Before you get your hopes up, those clouds won’t clear out, nor will we get the record-breaking warmth. The ridge won’t move far into the Midwest, because the powerful, slow-moving storm on the East Coast is causing a “traffic jam” of sorts. It’s slowing up the progression of everything else moving through the jet stream, so our weather won’t change much for Wednesday or Thursday. We will get a dose the milder air to our west in the next two days, but it won’t be as warm as what they had today.  Once the storm moves out from the East Coast, a storm will push south for our area and bring rain for early Thursday.  The milder air sneaking in will keep our precipitation mostly as rain.

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 27, 2015
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How Does Freezing Rain Happen?

January 26, 2015: Freezing rain is causing the roads to be pretty slippery this evening. The showers are creating a glaze of ice on untreated surfaces, so even after the showers stop, the ice will linger.  A Freezing Rain Advisory will be in effect for these conditions until Tuesday morning. If you have to do any driving tonight, slow down!

Freezing rain occurs when the layer of air near the surface is below freezing.

Freezing rain occurs when the layer of air near the surface is below freezing.

We had a change from snow this morning to freezing rain this afternoon and evening. Freezing rain works like this: Unlike snow, which can have the entire depth of the atmosphere below freezing and precipitation stays frozen all the way down, there is enough warm air that the rain drops do not freeze until they hit the surface.  There, the air is below freezing, so whatever the rain falls onto, it freezes too.  Essentially, it is raining, but the rain cause a layer of ice rather than piling up like sleet or snow.

This can cause the roads to be even more dangerous than when it is snowing. With snow, your vehicle can get some traction as the tire tread cuts into the snow, possibly even to the point that you can reach the pavement.  Freezing drizzle and rain turn the roads into an ice rink, so no matter how heavy-duty or all-terrain your vehicle is, your tires cannot grip the road as well, causing you to slip and slide. Take it easy in these conditions: do not speed, drive with caution, and increase your stopping distance between you and vehicles or intersections in front of you.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 26, 2015
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Snow Forecast For Sunday 1-25

January 24, 2015: Snow will be moving into the Stateline overnight tonight. Timing wise, snow will begin to fall around 3:30 A.M Sunday morning across most of the Stateline. The snow during the early morning hours won’t be very heavy.

futuretrack 1-24

Now as we move through the morning, the snow rates will pick up and we will begin to see heavier amounts of snow falling around 8 A.M Sunday morning. Models have suggested that the heavier bands of snow will be down to the south of the Rockford area more towards Interstate 88 and Interstate 80.

futuretrack snow 8AM 1-24

Snow accumulations will be tricky to forecast because areas just south of the Rockford could see up to around an inch or two of more snow. The snow forecast for the Stateline area will be: the northern portion of the Stateline (Rockford and north) will see a range of 1-3″ of snow. The southern portion will once again see higher snow totals (I-88 and south) in the range of 2-4″ of snow.

snow totals 1-24

I want to stress that driving conditions might not be very good Sunday morning because wind speeds will be picking up overnight. During the morning winds will be out of the northeast at 15-20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. Which will make blowing and drifting snow a concern during the morning.

– Nick

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 24, 2015
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February Freeze (Potentially)

January 23, 2015: Don’t look now, but the extremely chilly weather that we had a few weeks ago may be coming back. Good thing the Super Bowl is in Arizona this year, because we are looking at the single digits to teens for high temperatures locally on Super Bowl Sunday! I’ve mentioned this scenario a few times this week in the forecast, so here’s a look ahead.

Futuretrack upper level temperatures and winds for Feb. 1

Futuretrack upper level temperatures & winds for Feb. 1

We are potentially looking at the jet stream to plunge well southward, with a pipeline to the Arctic to flood the area with very chilly polar air. Leading up to next weekend, the temperatures are going to fluctuate plenty, between the upper 20’s to upper 30’s before the Arctic blast works in.

Several long-range models are pointing to this, so while the details may change 9 days from now, it is starting to look more and more likely that February 1 is going to be a bitterly cold day.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 23, 2015
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Under Pressure

January 22, 2015: Tomorrow (Friday, the 23rd), a large area of high pressure should help clear the sky out and give us some sunshine after a 2-day gloomy stretch.  You may have heard this plenty of times before, that high pressure can provide fair or quiet and clear weather. So how does this all work?

An area of high pressure promotes downward movement in the atmosphere. The sinking motion in the atmosphere is caused by the build up of air within that area, causing the air within the high to be more dense or heavier than the air around it, so it starts sinking.

High atmospheric pressure causes sinking within the atmosphere, clearing the sky out.

High atmospheric pressure causes sinking within the atmosphere, clearing the sky out.

If you think back to your lessons about the water cycle, when we heat air up with the sun, it becomes less dense, starts rising into the atmosphere, where the water vapor within the air cools, condenses, and starts to form clouds and rain.  The exact opposite occurs within an area of high pressure.  The sinking air compresses on its way down, causing the air to warm, and dry out. Without any moisture left and an overall sinking motion in the atmosphere, clouds aren’t able to form, and we have generally sunny, quiet weather with light winds.

Of course, this is an idealized situation, so this may not happen every time an area of high pressure moves in, but when we do talk about high pressure in the forecast, you now know why we generally talk about clear, calm weather as the high moves in.

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 22, 2015
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Snow Possible Sunday

January 21, 2015: We haven’t seen much snow so far this winter and our next best chance to see some snow fall is going to be Sunday afternoon. Lets go ahead and take a look at what several models are displaying for the possible activity Sunday afternoon. Here is the GFS model output on the College of DuPage’s weather lab page:

cod gfs

The GFS is showing a weather system moving over the Stateline for Sunday afternoon. The model output has the heavier precipitation tracking over the Stateline in the latest model run. The good news for snow lovers is that models are showing temperature profiles below freezing, which means the precipitation associated with the system would in fact be snow. So now lets compare the GFS model output to the NAM model output and see if the two models agree:

nam model output

The NAM output has the heavier band of snow just going northeast of the Stateline in the latest model run. Both models so far have been pretty consistent with the placement of this system and we should see some snow Sunday afternoon. We will continue to track this system and will provide updates as we get closer to Sunday.

– 13 Weather Authority Nick Jansen

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 22, 2015
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Least Snowiest Winters

January 21, 2015: Yesterday I mentioned that we are well below average (by nearly a foot) for snowfall so far this winter. December was a very dry month for snow, ending with only 0.1″ of snowfall, good for the 2nd least snowiest December on record (technically, 5th place- 4 years are tied for first with a trace of snow).

I decided to look up the least snowiest winters on record, just to see where we stand now, and if there is any chance for a record-worthy winter this year, considering we’ve past the halfway point of winter. The list is very interesting:

Top 5 least snowiest winters on record for Rockford (records date back to 1905)

Top 5 least snowiest winters on record for Rockford (records date back to 1905)

I can’t imagine a winter (December, January, and February) with only a little over an inch of snow! That’s our top spot, set 108 years ago. Another fact that stands out to me is that for 2 winters in a row, not much snow fell (1920 to 1922), and that 3 of the top 5 occurred during the 1920’s.

If winter ended today, we’d be in the top 10, with 7.5″ as of today. Of course, we still have month and spare change to go, so we’ll likely end up further down the list. February could be a very snowy month, making up for the lack of snow in December. We will have to revisit this topic on March 1 or soon after, and see just exactly where we ended up.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 21, 2015
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Snow Returns Tonight

January 20, 2015: If you heard that snow was in the forecast for tonight and thought, “It’s been a while since we’ve had snow, hasn’t it?”… you are on to something!

We haven’t had any measurable snowfall in nearly two weeks. The last round of snow came on January 8th, when we were in the midst of a very cold and snowy week that provided most of the snow accumulation so far this month.

Tonight breaks a streak of nearly 2 weeks without snow.

Tonight breaks a streak of nearly 2 weeks without snow.

Overall, we are a little above average for snowfall this month compared to a typical January. That’s a good thing in a way; we almost didn’t have any snow in December, leaving us over 10 inches below average for the season!  This won’t be our only chances for snow this week; we have a chance in the forecast on Sunday.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 20, 2015
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