Happy Meteorological Winter!

Happy Meteorological Winter! 12-1-16 met winter

What’s that, you ask?

December 1st marks the first day of Meteorological Winter, which is a 3 month period that meteorologist use to keep track of weather data and history. “Meteorological” seasons are based on yearly temperature data, whereas “astronomical” seasons (what most people use) are based on where the Earth is in relation to the sun.

So how long are we in this Meteorological Winter?

Here’s the answer: Three. long. months.

Just kidding, I’m actually pretty excited to get into colder temperatures. In fact, I’m hoping for a couple of big snowfalls this winter, especially after a few days in the 70s this November.

So let’s talk a little bit about what Meteorological Winter (December, January, February) is typically like for us here in northern Illinois.

December
Early December afternoon temperatures typically bring us to a high near 40 degrees or just below that. However, the entire month holds an average high temperature of near freezing (33.2 degrees), with an average overnight low temperature of about 18 degrees. We average in a little more than 11 inches of snow.

January
Say hello to the coldest month of the year! High temperatures average around 29.5 degrees and low temperatures around 13.5 degrees. January usually brings us around 10 inches of snowfall.

February
Ah yes, the final meteorological winter month. February turns out pretty similar to December, with an average high temperature near 34 degrees, and a low near 18 degrees. It does differ in snowfall, bringing in an average of 7.7 inches to Rockford.

Enjoy the next three months- Meteorological Spring will be here before you know it!

-Morgan Kolkmeyer

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This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on December 1, 2016
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Consistently Cool

Nov. 29, 2016: We are almost into December, and the extended forecast looks to be fairly consistent this week: cool, mostly cloudy, occasionally rainy with a few flurries mixed in. After a fairly warm and up-and-down month when it comes to temperature, the quieter, consistent weather is a big departure from the roller coaster month of November.

What’s driving all this? In the short term, it’s a cutoff low. An area of low pressure is spinning its gears over the Upper Midwest.

cut off low

The low is “cut off” from the main jet stream flow, meaning nothing is moving it out or moving different weather in. For the next few days, we’ll see the weather stay cloudy, near 40° for a high, and mostly dry. This “stagnant” pattern breaks down this weekend after 3 consistent days.

snow outlook

The lone exception is when the low wobbles close enough to us that it will spark a few scattered showers, mostly as rain mixed with flurries or light snow. After that, it should wobble away enough to provide wet weather elsewhere, but keeps cloudy and cool weather around.

The jet stream looks to be more active next week, providing a few chances for precipitation. Head’s up!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 29, 2016
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Warmest November On Record?

Nov. 22, 2016: The weather recently has felt extra chilly, yet normal at the same time. This is what late November should feel like. The extra chilly feeling just shows how warm this particular November has been, up until last weekend.

Looking at the numbers, the results so far this month have been impressive: if the month ended today, we’d have the warmest November on record!

Click on image to zoom in.

Click on image to zoom in.

We would pass November 2001 by a whole degree. However, we still have 8 days left for the month with near average temperatures in the forecast, and the cooler conditions will definitely drag down this month’s average when all is said and done.

Right outside the top 3 is something interesting- last year was awfully warm as well. November 2015 was the 7th warmest November, aided by one of the warmest El Niño’s on record last winter. Could we see back-to-back top 10 warmest Novembers? We’ll find out in 8 days!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 22, 2016
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Winter Weather Preparedness Week 2016

Nov. 18, 2016: The weather has felt a lot more like spring than late fall lately, but cold air catching up with us in a hurry this weekend. Now is a good time to start thinking over your winter emergency plans and start preparing for winter weather well before the first snow storm hits. You won’t have to worry about getting ready during the nasty, icy weather!

The National Weather Service in Chicago has a Winter Weather Preparedness Week annually to help residents of the Stateline prepare. We helped spread the word this week by making a handful graphics to bring you reminders and advice for the upcoming winter. Here’s the full list of graphics for your reference:

winter weather awareness weekwinter weather awareness week blizzard winter weather awareness week dress  WINTER WX PREPAREDNESS WEEK 2 winter wx preparedness winter driving 2 winter wx preparedness winter driving winter wx preparedness shoveling winter wx preparedness winter PRECIP

Click on each image to zoom in on it. Key takeaways: put together your winter emergency supplies NOW in both the house and all of your vehicles. Pay close attention to the weather forecast when snow is mentioned. Take it slow and easy while driving when slow starts falling.  Most importantly- find a way to enjoy the winter weather!

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 18, 2016
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“Super-sized” Supermoon!

Nov. 10, 2016: Get out and take a good look at the moon Sunday night– we have another Supermoon to look forward to, as this one will be “super-sized”.

A quick refresher on the supermoon: the Moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle, but more like an ellipse, so there’s times when it’s closer to the Earth, and times when it’s farther away. Whenever there’s a full moon at the same time the Moon is closer in orbit, it looks a little brighter and bigger in the sky, hence the term “Supermoon”.

We’ll have a clear sky Sunday night, giving us a good shot at seeing an extra special occurrence. The moon hasn’t been this close to Earth since 1948, and won’t be this close again until 2034. On average, the moon is around 238,900 miles away from Earth, but Sunday night it will be 216,524 miles away. That roughly 20,000 mile difference should make the Moon appear 15% greater in size (by area; 7% larger across) and 16% brighter than average.

Click on image to zoom in.

Click on image to zoom in.

Will you notice much of a difference? Probably not, but you may notice a little bit of a change. Despite only a subtle difference, it should be a good night to get the family out and gaze at the Moon, especially with a telescope, and think and talk about how the Moon plays a role in our night sky. It should be a special sight to take in!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 10, 2016
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Back to “real” November weather this week

November 8, 2016: Greetings on Election Day! Rockford saw an interesting milestone this afternoon. Meteorologist Morgan Kolkmeyer dug up this little nugget: We saw the warmest Election Day in Rockford in 40 years! It hasn’t been this warm on Election Day since Jimmy Carter was elected president. Temperatures are nearly 10 degrees above average today.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

It’ll be back to “reality” this week with cooler weather blowing in tonight. While we will remain above average, temperatures on average will be ten degrees cooler than what we’ve seen lately. The first week of November was gorgeous and warm; we’ll be comfortably cool the rest of this week.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

The upcoming nights, though, will be chilly. We haven’t seen a ton of 30 degrees nights so far this fall; in fact, we’ve only had half the usual amount of 30 degree nights so far.  We’ll get a whole bunch of them this week.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

Following up on a post from earlier, the next few chilly nights should help us set a record with the latest first freeze of the fall. We’ve already broken the record, so now it’s about when we’ll finally set that record. Look for sub-freezing temperatures by Friday night, passing the previous record by a week!

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

Enjoy the cooler weather finally arriving; it is November after all!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 8, 2016
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Winter Outlook 2016

November 4th, 2016: It’s that time of year again. We are getting into the last month of fall, so a big question on a lot of your minds may be “what’s winter going to bring?”.

Last year, we had an intense El Niño set up in the Pacific, bringing the 4th warmest winter on record to the area. It will be hard to top that, especially when conditions may do the opposite.

Instead of a very strong El Niño, a weak La Niña looks to form in the Pacific Ocean. This means cooler waters near South America (the opposite of El Niño), giving us a slightly harsher winter (especially compared to last year!).

A typical La Niña winter for us usually means cold and/or wet. Because this La Niña may be weak or almost nonexistent, the impacts may not be as harsh, but we’ll see some influences.

For temperatures, the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook shows colder than average weather to our north and northwest, with near average temperatures for us. So far, so good!

Click on the image to zoom in.

Click on the image to zoom in.

As for snowfall, we may be seeing more than we usually get. In this setup, the polar jet stream is more active over us, bringing in more chances for snow, but it does keep the colder weather away.

Click on the image to zoom in.

Click on the image to zoom in.

What’s average for us during the winter? The temperature average over the whole winter is around 29°, which amounts to highs in the 30’s and lows in the teens, on average. The season total for snowfall is usually 29″.

Click on the image to zoom in.

Click on the image to zoom in.

All in all, the going forecast means 30’s for highs, teens for lows, and more than 30″ of snow. Remember, this may still change! We have to see just how strong that La Niña ends up being, as it’s struggling to get going. Stay tuned!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 4, 2016
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November outlook

November 4th, 2015: Isn’t this a great start to the month?! We nearly set a record on the 1st (missed getting to the 80’s by 3 degrees!), and have followed that day up with several days in the 60’s in a row (roughly 9 degrees above average each day).

Overall, this fits with the going forecast from the Climate Prediction Center for the month as a whole.

Click on the image to zoom in.

           Click on the image to zoom in.

According to their outlook, we should see plenty of days like this: not always in the 60’s, but above average and warm for this time of year. This doesn’t rule out any cold days by any means; it just means we’ll be at least a little warmer than usual over the course of the month.

Click on the image to zoom in.

             Click on the image to zoom in.

As for rain (and snow), the CPC isn’t showing much more than average amounts for us around here. We avoid the very wet or very dry patterns that set up in other spots of the country.

So, what is average for November? Check out the graphic below for our “usual” weather this month:

Click on the image to zoom in.

                Click on the image to zoom in.

An interesting side effect to all of this warmth is the lack of freezing temperatures.

Click on the image to zoom in.

                 Click on the image to zoom in.

We haven’t had a night below freezing yet in Rockford this fall, and we will set the record for the latest first freeze in our area. In fact, it might be another week before we get close to freezing, at this point!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 4, 2016
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Tumultuous Temperatures

Oct. 17, 2016: Summer’s back (for a day)! With a little help from strong southerly to southwesterly winds (both at the jet stream level and at the ground level), we saw temperatures soar into the middle 80’s this afternoon. Adding to the summer feel was a touch of humidity with dew points in the 60’s. Overall, a weather pattern that resembled something we see more often in August rather than October gave us a quick step back in seasons.

1st of fall OR NOT

This isn’t unheard of, of course. On average, we usually see a day one last day in the 80’s around October 7th. The latest on record was November 1st, 1933, when temperatures were a whopping 25° above average, setting a record for that day, as well as the record for latest 80° in Rockford.

october warmth

Today’s weather has been part of an impressive warming trend since the weekend. We are on a streak of 3 days in a row above 70°, and that should carry on into Tuesday. After that, we start going back toward fall weather.

cooling off

We’ll be stepping down gradually as a series of cold fronts move though. By Friday, we’ll be at least 25° than where we were today. We’ll be dropping 10° at least each time a cold front moves through (tonight and Wednesday night).

Will this be the end of the 80’s for the year? It looks that way, at least right now. The odds are against us for getting an 80° past this date anyway, plus there aren’t any persistent signals in several longer range models that show anything this warm for the rest of the month or into early November. We will likely remain above average for a while, so the occasional 70° day may pop up, but I think the 80’s may be gone again until next spring.

-Alex

akirchner@wrex.com

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 17, 2016
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It’s been a while…

Oct. 10, 2016: If you stepped outside today and thought, “Wow. It feels like forever since it’s been this cold”, you weren’t that far off.

1st of fall

We haven’t had a day below 60° for a high since May. 151 days ago, in fact. That’s a solid 5 months of warm weather! Rockford got close to breaking the streak a few weeks ago, but we’ve held on until today.

With that in mind, I took a look at the next few streaks that are still alive: our last 30° and 40° days. One note: we won’t see weather this cold anytime soon! However, about a month from now, our average highs are in the upper 40’s, so it won’t be long. For now, we’ll see some warmer days.

notable streaks

Overall, it’s been at least 6 months since we’ve seen either of these days. We have to go back to March 24 and April 9, respectively, for the 30’s and 40’s. Over half the year has gone by since those chilly days, and we’ll likely not see chilly weather like that for hopefully another month. It’s neat to see how long we avoid those temperatures, however!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 13, 2016
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