Popcorn storms

A few very isolated storms are possible this evening. They’re capable of producing brief heavy downpours and pea-sized hail.

90% or more of our viewers will remain dry this evening.

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This post was written by qni_it on May 31, 2008

Friday Severe Analysis

Update 6:40pm – For all intents and purposes, our storm threat is over for Northern Illinois. Storms up around La Crosse may affect Green, Rock, and Walworth County by 10pm but I have a feeling that most of these will lose their oomph by that time. BBQ: Here I come!

Update 5:20pm – Severe Thunderstorm Warning for eastern DeKalb County until 6pm. This storm will have little significance on our immediate area and will head into the Chicago suburbs within the next hour. Additional thunderstorm development is possible as a Severe Thunderstorm Watch may be issued within the next two hours. Problem is our lack of towering cumulus clouds. Recent check of visible satellite imagery shows very little cloud development west of Rockford.

Update 3:00pm – Reports still coming in concerning today’s damaging winds. Area from the Rockford Airport/New Milford area through Cherry Valley and Marengo seems to be the hardest hit with widespread tree damage.

We’re still watching the radars and satellite trends closely as the atmosphere is recovering from earlier clouds and rain. This image shows CAPE. Cape is a measure of the amount of energy available for convection. The higher the CAPE, the higher the probability for thunderstorm development (especially with a front in the region). CAPE will continue to rise for another hour or two…then fall. Any severe threat will be limited to the next few hours. As far as the tornado threat? It’s not in the cards anymore as winds are generally running parallel to the front at most levels of the atmosphere. I wouldn’t be surprised if a few storms sprouted and produced some pea to marble sized hail and more gusty wind.

Update 12:15pm - The strongest winds have already pushed through the region. Still some damaging winds exist around DeKalb and Rochelle, but this effect from the outflow boundary should be ending within the hour.

As you can see, clearing is now taking place over eastern Iowa. This sunshine should heat up the lower portions of the atmosphere to create a very unstable environment. With dew points now in the 60s and a cold front pushing through, I still fully expect some thunderstorms to redevelop during the middle of the afternoon. The main threats from these storms if they turn severe will be damaging winds and hail. Frequent lightning strikes and heavy downpours should also accompany this activity.

This picture was taken this morning by Belinda Sullivan who lives on the east side of Rockford. It shows some of the damage caused by the gusty winds.

(11:55:32 AM)
iembot: Malta [De Kalb Co, IL] law enforcement reports NON-TSTM WND DMG at 11:53 AM CDT — trees down.

(11:43:51 AM)
iembot: Marengo [Mchenry Co, IL] trained spotter reports NON-TSTM WND DMG at 11:32 AM CDT — overturned semi on rt. 20 and i90.

(11:34:28 AM)
iembot: Rockford [Winnebago Co, IL] emergency mngr reports NON-TSTM WND DMG at 10:15 AM CDT — roof blown off a building at rockford airport.

(11:06:18 AM)
iembot: Rockford [Winnebago Co, IL] trained spotter reports NON-TSTM WND DMG at 10:55 AM CDT — small limbs down near intersection of i90 and business us-20.

(11:02:08 AM)
iembot: Woodstock [Mchenry Co, IL] trained spotter reports NON-TSTM WND DMG at 10:55 AM CDT — measured wind gust of 57 mph with 4 foot in diameter tree down and multiple power lines down.

(10:56:51 AM)
iembot: 2 Se Mchenry [Mchenry Co, IL] trained spotter reports NON-TSTM WND DMG at 10:45 AM CDT — wind gusts up to around 40 mph with tree limbs and power lines down.

Update 10:40am
= A HIGH WIND WARNING has been issued for the majority of northern Illinois through 1pm. As the storms passing along Interstate 88 continue to weaken they are creating outflow boundaries, which are kicking up very strong wind gusts. The Rockford Airport observation site recorded a 63 mph wind gust at 10:15am. These strong southerly winds will continue for the next 2 to 3 hours.

Original Post = Showers and thunderstorms will continue to move through the Stateline viewing area periodically this morning. The severe weather threat at the moment is quite low here. This current round of wet weather will have a few lightning strikes and rumbles of thunder, but the parameters are not in place for any significan
t damage. Our risk for severe weather depends upon how much sunshine we see around lunchtime to destabilize the atmosphere and kick off another batch of storms. If the cloud cover stays thick, it will greatly diminish our chances for strong thunderstorms redeveloping. Our slight risk of severe weather entails the afternoon and early evening hours.

A cluster of potentially severe storms around the Quad Cities this morning has prompted a Tornado Watch (indicated in red) for all Illinois counties south of the Stateline. This will run until 2pm this afternoon.

Another problem we are running into this morning are heavy downpours on already saturated grounds. Rain totals at all southern Wisconsin observation sites have broken the 1″ mark since midnight. With the heavy rainfall threat continuing, the Quad Cities National Weather Service office has posted a Flash Flood Watch (indicated in green) for Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Carroll, & Whiteside County that is set to run through 10am this morning. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on May 30, 2008

Weather Watch to be issued for Iowa…Beginning of a Long Night!

The Storm Prediction Center is continuing to stay ahead of the storm complex over western Iowa and Nebraska. A new weather watch will be issued for Central Iowa by 9pm. This is an indication that these storms are likely to stay together as they work east down I-80. Storms could near the Mississippi River by 2am. However, most of these storms may veer just south of the Rockford metro. Will monitor…

Technical Discussion:

MESOSCALE DISCUSSION 1087
NWS STORM PREDICTION CENTER NORMAN OK
0737 PM CDT THU MAY 29 2008

AREAS AFFECTED...PARTS OF WRN/CENTRAL IA INTO FAR NRN MO

CONCERNING...SEVERE POTENTIAL...WATCH LIKELY

VALID 300037Z - 300130Z

WW WILL LIKELY BE NEEDED FOR SEVERE WEATHER THREAT EXPECTED TO
DEVELOP/EVOLVE EWD INTO IA/FAR NRN MO FROM ERN NEB/NRN KS.

REGIONAL RADARS INDICATED SEVERAL CLUSTERS OF TSTMS...STRONG TO
SEVERE...EXTENDING FROM FAR SERN SD THROUGH ERN NEB TO FAR NRN
KS...WITH MORE RECENT ACTIVITY INCREASING IN INTENSITY FROM EAST
CENTRAL NEB TO WEST CENTRAL IA /MONONA COUNTY/. RECENT DOPPLER
RADAR VELOCITY TRENDS WITH THE ACTIVITY IN AND NEAR PLATTE COUNTY
NEB INDICATED STRONG WINDS WITH A TRACK TOWARD THE ENE AT CLOSE TO
50 KT. THIS FAST MOVEMENT COMBINED WITH ADDITIONAL STORM MERGERS
POTENTIALLY PRODUCING A COLD POOL SUGGEST THAT THESE TRENDS MAY BE
INDICATING THE BEGINNING STAGES OF LINEAR EVOLUTION...WHICH IS
EXPECTED TO AFFECT FAR ERN NEB INTO IA AND PARTS OF FAR NRN MO THIS
EVENING AND OVERNIGHT. A SURFACE LOW WAS LOCATED OVER NERN NEB WITH
A WARM FRONT EXTENDING ENEWD INTO FAR SERN SD AND THEN ESEWD THROUGH
NWRN TO CENTRAL AND SERN IA. ANY MCS/BOW ECHO THAT FORMS THIS
EVENING SHOULD TRACK ESEWD ALONG THIS BOUNDARY/INSTABILITY GRADIENT
INTO IA/FAR NRN MO.
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This post was written by qni_it on May 30, 2008

Go stormchasing from your computer!

There are tornadoes on the ground in parts of Kansas and Nebraska right now. In this digital age, it’s now possible to view the storms in real time. Many stormchasers are now equipped with cameras and broadcast equipment…right in their cars!

Click on the image to watch live.

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This post was written by qni_it on May 29, 2008

Friday severe risk upgraded to Moderate

The Storm Prediction Center has put out a “moderate risk” of severe weather for most of Illinois during the day on Friday.

This severe risk comes with two batches. First, severe storms across Nebraska during Thursday evening will group together and form a complex of strong storms during the late-night hours over Iowa. This complex will move into Illinois during the early morning hours. There is a slight risk that some storms could produce damaging straight-line winds and torrential rainfall.

Should skies clear (even for an hour or two) during the late morning hours on Friday, severe storms will become likely. Main threat with afternoon storms will include large hail, damaging winds, and isolated tornadoes.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens after the morning complex to determine our risk of severe here in the Rock River Valley. Stay tuned!

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This post was written by qni_it on May 29, 2008

Brewing Up a Big One

Yet another potent storm system is starting to come together. The ingredients are in place to the west for a big severe weather outbreak later today. The graphic to the left shows that the slight risk zone just barely covers Jo Daviess County. The next shade of red indicates a moderate risk for severe weather. The darkest shading on there indicates a high risk for severe weather, which includes eastern Nebraska and western Iowa. The Storm Prediction Center has stated that in that high risk zone there exists a 30% chance for a tornado to form within 25 miles of any given point. 30% does not sound like much initially, but when we are talking about tornadoes that should put folks in that area on alert this afternoon.

The graphic on the right shows the slight risk zone for severe weather for Friday. It engulfs the entire Stateline viewing area. For tomorrow, our winds at the surface will be in almost the same direction as the winds in the jet stream (WSW). Due to the lack of wind shear or the unidirectional aspect of the winds in the atmosphere our tornado threat will be greatly reduced. Without rotation in the atmosphere it is hard to spin up a tornado. Some small hail is possible, but our main threat will be damaging winds in excess of 55 mph. I would expect to see some bowing structures on radar tomorrow to indicate the initial gust front as these thunderstorms move through the region. The heaviest rain appears to be setting up to fall during the morning hours with some scattered activity in the afternoon. Rainfall totals in most locations should sit between 0.5″ – 1.0″. Some spots that get stuck under the stronger thunderstorms could break the 1.0″ liquid mark. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on May 29, 2008

Do we need a Weather Ball in Rockford?

From the Grand Rapids Business Journal:

Dad, are we home yet?” Whined two weary kids returning from vacation. “Can you see the Weather Ball yet?” He asked. “Nooooooo!” Came the whines again. “Well then, we’re not home yet!”

Home is Grand Rapids between 1967 through 1987, and the Weather Ball was a 64-ton, 125-foot-tall steel structure with a neon ball on top that forecasted the weather 24 hours a day. It sat atop the former Michigan National Bank building at 77 Monroe Center, and they say you could see it for 10 miles around. What started as a Michigan National project went on to become the Grand Rapids landmark, along with the fish ladder and Alexander Calder sculpture. Ask any Grand Rapids native over the age of 25 and they will recite the short rhyme that accompanied the huge, spherical structure:

Weather ball red, warmer weather ahead

Weather ball blue, colder weather in view

Weather ball green, no change foreseen

Colors blinking bright, rain or snow in sight.

Tacky? Maybe, Accurate? Probably not, Nostalgic? You betcha!

In today’s world of 24-hour weather stations, Doppler Radar, NexRad and storm teams who track and forecast our weather continuously, it seems a little silly that for two decades Grand Rapidians used to look to the sky over downtown to decide whether to bring an umbrella or put on a warmer coat. This was Grand Rapids before the Van Andel Arena, the BOB, and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. And in 1967 it was futuristic! During its 20-year reign, the Weather Ball survived countless storms and two nearby tornadoes. Records show only one serious instance when one of the 12-by-20 foot identification letters blew off and fell to the street below. Folklore abounds about the structure, teenage boys on a dare to climb and unplug the glowing structure, and janitors who would find clothes on the rooftop in the morning.

The decision to remove the Weather Ball was that of Michigan National Bank, when reports showed that the Weather Ball was damaging the building’s core structure, cracking walls and allowing moisture seepage to further damage the building. The decision, although difficult, came fast and the Weather Ball was doomed to come down. There were stirrings of opposition to save the Weather Ball, but in the end no one saved it. The neon tubes were removed by Ian McCartney, from NeonAmericana, and the steel ended up in a scrap yard in Kalamazoo. Not a very nice way to treat a community landmark.

Fast forward to 2003, on May 23 the West Michigan landmark returned to the skyline and began lighting up the sky once again.

WZZM 13 purchased the steel ball scrap from a Kalamazoo scrap yard and spent the next four years refurbishing and reconstructing the 16-foot neon covered stainless steel spherical object to better than original state. Thanks to WZZM 13, that nostalgic presence is back in our lives, the actual Weather Ball. Cheers!

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This post was written by qni_it on May 28, 2008

Running Up the Rain Total

Recapping the meteorological spring (March 1st through May 31st), we have seen above average precipitation totals. In March, we received just the right amount with our rainfall total just a hair above normal. April was a soggy month with almost a 2 inch surplus. Thus far in May we have been drier than normal (not too many folks upset about that) by almost an inch. There are only four days left in the month of May, but a soggy storm system should add quite a bit of liquid to the rain bucket by the end of the work week. Between the thunderstorms starting Thursday night and running periodically through Friday, we could pick up over an inch of rain quickly making up for the monthly deficit. Furthermore, we could see some severe weather during this timeframe too. The highest likelihood would be for us to receive some small hail and gusty winds. Thankfully, the dynamics are not quite there for tornadic activity on Friday. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on May 28, 2008

Parkersburg, Iowa tornado officially rated EF5

Official statement can be found here:

http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/p.php?pid=200805272130-KDMX-NOUS43-PNSDMX

Second tornado to be rated an EF5 (highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale) since the new rating scale came out.

See previous posts farther down this page for additional information and videos/photos.

Click on the links below for information from various media outlets in Iowa.

National Weather Service – Des Moines, IA
Damage photos

KCCI
Caught on Tape: Parkersburg Tornado
View Parkersburg Damage from the Air (Chief Met. John McLaughlin)
John McLaughlin Explains Tornado Damage
Iowans Tell Their Stories
“Heard Freight Train; 30 Seconds Later it was All Gone”

WHO
Home Page (links to various videos)

WOI
Home Page (links to various videos)

KWWL
Tornado Update
Rebuilding Parkersburg
Raw Video Near Fairbank

KCRG
Storm Chasers Capture Video of New Hartford Tornado

National Weather Service – La Crosse, WI
Lofted Debris Information

Aerial Photos
View photos of Parkersburg and the surrounding area from the air

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This post was written by qni_it on May 27, 2008

Bona Fide Cold Front

I know many folks that went to bed last night in a muggy and hot house, but woke up shivering due to windows that were left open. A powerful cold front moved through overnight, which caused our temperatures to crash and our winds to strengthen significantly out of the northeast. The graphic to the left starts at midnight last night. At that point it was still warm at 68°, but the Rockford airport recorded a 16° dip between midnight and 1am. That is a front that packs a punch!

After such a warm weekend, today’s weather is no picnic. Even with a few pockets of sunshine this afternoon our highs will stay 15° below average. Once the winds weaken tonight, the mercury will fall off even further. A few of the rural locations are likely to dip into the upper 30s.

If you were on of those folks already complaining about the humidity yesterday… you got your wish today with the weather shifting to the opposite end of the spectrum! -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on May 27, 2008