Watching this evening…

Update: 7:24 p.m.
The storms in eastern Iowa are going to stay away from our area. A few showers are still possible this evening, but the threat of severe weather appears to be pretty much nil. I wouldn’t be surprised if the flood watch is cancelled soon, as well. The storms well to our south have cut off Gulf moisture, so the cold front was not able to establish an organized line of thunderstorms.

Temperatures will quickly drop later tonight as the cold front sweeps through.

Update: 6:04 p.m.
Cells continue to develop in our northwest counties.
The storms in eastern Iowa have gone severe, with nickel-sized hail reported.

Update: 5:34 p.m.

The cluster of rain and thunderstorms in southeast Iowa is still holding its own. We’re also seeing a couple blips on the radar developing in western Carroll County over the past few minutes.

Eric describes it best… we have the ingredients in place, but we’re still not sure if the oven is going to be set to the right temperature.

Original Post:
We’re watching storms try to develop near the surface low in southeastern Iowa. With all the cloudcover/mist/fog today, we’ve found ourselves in a pretty stable airmass. However, there has been thinning of the clouds in eastern Iowa – even some clearing – allowing some energy to get going. This energy will need to sustain itself as the low moves northeast through the afternoon/evening hours. If it doesn’t, we’ll have too much shear for any storms to be able to survive. If it does… then storms will have the ability to rotate. It’s one of the variables we’re monitoring. In addition, if you’ve stepped outside and are south of the Illinois-Wisconsin border, you’ve felt a very distinct change in the air. Our temperature and dewpoint have both surged; as I write this, Rockford is 60 with a dewpoint of 56.

Tonight’s weather situation is looking like an all-or-nothing sort of scenario. Everything has to come into place just right if strong storms are going to develop. We’ll be giving you frequent updates…

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This post was written by qni_it on March 31, 2008

Soaking Spring Storm

Update 11:00am = Big line of thunderstorms stretching from southwestern Wisconsin to La Salle, IL. Heaviest rain moving through downtown Rockford at this time. These thunderstorms are not showing any characteristics of becoming severe across the Stateline.

Update 9:15am = The line of thunderstorms just to the south of the Quad Cities is on the edge of criteria for being called severe. Some pea and marble sized hail has been reported. These storms will travel to the northeast and mainly affect areas south of I-88.

Original Post = Some rainfall totals coming in this morning are already fairly impressive. From the overnight storms the Rockford Airport has recorded 0.64″ of rain, but near 1 inch totals have been reported as close by as Rochelle and Janesville. This is only the tip of the iceberg with this spring storm system.

Showers and storms will continue to periodically move through the region. We are under some light rain right now, but heavier rain is just west of the Mississippi River. The main threat for us in this rainmaker is going to be the flooding potential. A few spots could approach 2 inches of liquid precipitation by this evening. This is why the entire viewing area is currently under a FLOOD WATCH that will continue through the night. Northern Illinois is still under a slight risk of severe weather for today, but I don’t expect a big severe weather outbreak. Instability will be at a premium, because it will be tough for us to find any sunshine to heat up the atmosphere. Some pea to penny size hail is possible to go with gusty winds, but the main severe weather threat lies well to our south for today. The storms should still be raging through the evening hours, but by midnight tonight the skies turn tranquil.

In conclusion, for those of you taking the day off of work to go to the Cubs home opener, be sure to bring some warm and waterproof clothes. Depending on how hard the rain is this afternoon, the home opener might actually get pushed back a day. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on March 31, 2008

Still keeping our eyes on tomorrow

If were you weren’t lucky enough to see a few rays of sunshine today, your chances aren’t looking very good for tomorrow, either.

All eyes remain on the system set to start affecting us tonight. Heavy rain will be our first concern – moisture from the Gulf will be pumped into the central part of the nation with all signs pointing to a widespread heavy rain event. Our two main computer models are both giving our entire area an inch of rainfall. They’re not able to capture the even finer scale features like individual thunderstorms, so anybody who has a few of those go over their heads will be at risk for even higher rainfall totals. With rivers and streams running high and our soils saturated from recent snowmelt, the rain is going to run off and create some flooding concerns. If you live, work, or travel near rivers or streams, be mindful of how the water is behaving. Never, ever cross a flooded roadway under any circumstances.

A secondary impact will be the risk of severe weather. The Rockford metro is just outside the slight risk outlook boundary, but remember that we were within it just yesterday. It looks to me like hail will be the main issue that the more vigorous storms give us. It’s pretty cold not too far aloft, so a storm will only need to grow to 8,000-10,000 feet to start producing hail. As the cold front pushes through on Monday night, some storms start bowing outward to cause some gusty winds. The severe threat does look somewhat marginal since we’ll be pretty much socked in cloudcover all day. Naturally, we’ll be monitoring how this system unfolds through the day tomorrow to see if any of the fine details change.

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This post was written by qni_it on March 30, 2008

Big Storms Possible Monday

The Storm Prediction Center has put much of the Southern Plains and Midwest in a Slight Risk of severe weather for Monday. A frontal boundary will set up along the I-35 corridor from Oklahoma City to Kansas City by midday. Storms are expected to develop ahead of this front and push northeast through the afternon. Large hail and tornadoes will be possible along the cold front during the day. As an upper-level disturbance rotates in from the west, Northern Illinois will be in an “Entrance Region.” This is where the upper-level winds are accelerating (much like an entrance ramp on an expressway). When this air is allowed to speed up, it aids in the development of thunderstorms. So, while we won’t be siting in the juiciest of air, if we’re under an entrance region we may see an added threat of hail, high winds, and even a few brief tornadoes. However, our chance of storms here all depends on where the warm front sets up. Should the warm front remain to our south, we will be in a much more stable environment keeping the main threat downstate. -ERIC

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This post was written by qni_it on March 29, 2008

EXCLUSIVE: Cold in March? Tornadoes in April & May!

13News Meteorologist Justin Gehrts and I were researching something simple this afternoon and may have stumbled upon something substantial.
Question was: How many Marches have not yielded a 60 degree temperature in Rockford?
Answer is: 2008 (so far), 2001, 1996, 1984, 1980, 1975, 1970, 1965, and 1964.
We then decided to look back and see if any of these years were La Nina years. Sure enough, all but two were!

I listed all of the La Nina years below. The years that correspond with the absent 60s are in bold along with the corresponding severe weather event.

2007-2008 Poplar Grove, IL EF3 (January 7, 2008)
2000-2001 Siren, WI F4
1999-2000
1998-1999
1995-1996 Oakfield, WI F5
1983-1984 Barneveld, WI F5
1975-1976 Lemont, IL F4
1973-1974
1971-1972
1970-1971 Mississippi Delta Outbreak 1971 (119 fatalities)
1967-1968
1964-1965 Palm Sunday Outbreak 1965

In short: When the temperatures here are cold in March there is an enhanced threat of a severe weather outbreak in the Midwest.

Barb Mayes at the Davenport National Weather Service office worked on a study that showed that La Nina springs tend to bring a higher-than-normal chance of severe weather outbreaks for the Upper Midwest. Our findings may just indicate a coincidence, but it could be another indicator that an intense severe weather season is ahead of us.

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This post was written by qni_it on March 28, 2008

Google’s "Street View" comes to Rockford!

Google Maps comes to Rockford! We’ve all used google.com and many have uesed Google Earth. Google “Street View” takes it one step further. A car with a special panoramic camera has to drive on every street in the area to get the pictures. In fact you can tilt the camera down and actually see the car. To try it out, simply go to maps.google.com and type in Rockford, Illinois (or better yet WREX-TV Rockford, Illinois). Then, click on the “Street View” button to see the pictures.

What do you think of this feature? -ERIC

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This post was written by qni_it on March 28, 2008

Thank you Ben!

National Kite Flying Month begins March 29th! (Don’t ask me why it doesn’t begin on the first of the month. Also, Wisconsin doesn’t participate in Kite Flying Month for some reason.)

Here’s a little more info on our most famous kite-flier:

In June of 1752 Benjamin Franklin began to study the atmosphere with kites,which led to extensive meteorological work that continued for 150 years, until the airplane was developed.

Franklin was trying to determine whether the earth and sky functioned like the conducting layers of a Leyden jar in the presence of an electric charge.

The memorably demonstrated experiment in Philadelphia did prove that lightning is electricity. In June of 1752 the experiment was begun in some secrecy, with only the assistance and witness of Franklin’s 21 year old son. Franklin dreaded the possibility of the ridicule which too commonly attends unsuccessful attempts in science.

Franklin waited until there was a storm and then proceeded to fly his kite made of silk, the silk would tolerate the pouring rain better than other materials available at that time. They waited a very long time and even considered calling off the experiment when Ben noticed a few threads of silk tied to the key were standing straight out, he then touched the back of his knuckle to the key and felt a shock. His enormous pleasure at proving his theory is legendary. To read the complete story, click here.

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This post was written by qni_it on March 27, 2008

Old Hat For Us

There is no need to turn on the red light for driving conditions today. After receiving just over a tenth of an inch of rain overnight the roadways are currently wet, but not too slick as temperatures are sitting above the freezing mark. You may run into some slushy spots occasionally, but it won’t be anything we haven’t already experienced this winter. The heaviest precipitation (some rain, mostly snow) will be falling during the late morning hours. A few showers will linger into the afternoon, but it should be rather light in nature. The skies should be dry for the most part by dinnertime tonight.

With temperatures above the freezing mark the majority of the day and a relatively warm soil (highs in the 50s the past two days), I do not expect much in the way of snow to accumulate. Some spots may encounter a slushy inch, but it won’t be sticking around on the ground for long. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on March 27, 2008

Huge ice shelf breaks away from Antarctica

ScienceDaily (Mar. 25, 2008) — British Antarctic Survey has captured dramatic satellite images of an Antarctic ice shelf that looks set to be the latest to break out from the Antarctic Peninsula. A large part of the Wilkins Ice Shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula is now supported only by a thin strip of ice hanging between two islands. It is another identifiable impact of climate change on the Antarctic environment. Read whole story by clicking here.

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This post was written by qni_it on March 26, 2008

Doesn’t feel like it could snow!

Edit: 11:30 a.m.
This morning, the National Weather Service dropped our Wisconsin counties from the Winter Storm Watch. Is the storm falling apart? I haven’t seen any signs of that happening – I just think it’s going to be tough for us to get very much accumulation. With the ground and pavement getting warm over the past few days, it takes a while to cool down either of those surfaces enough to allow snow to stick. I do believe we’ll see minor accumulation, especially along and north of US 20, where an inch or two of wet snow may manage to survive. Between US 20 and I-88, I’m going with a little bit of slush. Sometime around the middle of the day, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a period of freezing rain and sleet before we change all the way over to snow.

I’m expecting this to be more of a headache-causing system than anything else. Anything that does stick to pavement will make it slick, so be aware of that, especially as the day wears on. The consolation is that the snow that doesn’t melt right away still won’t last very long.

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This post was written by qni_it on March 26, 2008