We did it!

Today’s high at RFD was 89°. I’ll admit that I was sweating a little bit, and it wasn’t because it was hot. It was because 1) I said last night I didn’t think we’d make it to 90°, and 2) today was the last day of climatological summer. We reached 89° on three occasions this summer, but never managed to creep one degree higher than that. So, it’s now in the record books: Rockford experienced its first 90°-less summer ever.

Tomorrow, I’m looking for a high of 89°, although to be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised if we nudge up to that elusive 90°. However, tomorrow is September 1, the first day of climatological fall. Close – but that only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

A cold front will provide us with some relief once we hit about Wednesday. It’ll bring with it a big drop in temperatures for the second half of the week with highs in the 70s. Rain chances with it hinge a lot on what Gustav does… if part of its remnants stream northward, we may have a three-day shot of rain. However, if it stays wholly in the South, then we have a measly one-day shot at showers.

Speaking of Gustav, its passage over Cuba weakened it more substantially than expected. Even better, it hasn’t been able to really get its act together since emerging over the Gulf of Mexico. It’s a far cry from the Category 5 it had the potential to become, but it’s still very strong and will have a major impact along much of the Gulf coast.

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 31, 2008

Keeping eye on Gustav

Gustav has been an interesting tropical system. It has defied intensity forecasts pretty much its entire lifespan. When data suggested it should become a hurricane, it remained a tropical storm of mediocre intensity. Then yesterday, indications were that it could perhaps intensify quickly, but not to the amount that it eventually did. This afternoon, its sustained winds were up to 150 mph, making it a very strong Category 4 (out of 5) hurricane. It just passed over the western portion of Cuba, which probably caused it to weaken just a little bit. However, it’s moving back into a very favorable environment to at least sustain itself, if not become a little stronger.

Naturally, everybody is wondering about how it will impact New Orleans. Computer model and official forecast tracks indicate that the center may make landfall west of the city. However, that is not necessarily good news. The strongest part of a hurricane is the right-front quadrant; the image at left illustrates where that sector is with Hurricane Gustav. Essentially, you put an imaginary plus-sign over the hurricane, with the line that’s normally drawn up-down located along the path that the system is moving. In the right-front quadrant, you’re in the area where you’re adding the effects of the winds moving “forward” (since tropical systems spin counter-clockwise) to the effect of the system simply moving forward.

Gustav will have an impact on our weather in the second half of the upcoming week. At this time, it looks like some of the tropical moisture from Gustav will be siphoned northward and used by the cold front that should be passing through sometime on Wednesday or Thursday. We’ll be fine-tuning the rain chances in the forecast as the Gustav situation becomes more clear.

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 31, 2008

Are you Ready for some Football?


I hope you are ready for some football, because I don’t think you have a choice. The high school football season kicks off tonight with a number of heated matchups across the Stateline. I think it is a safe bet that the stands will be very loud, but the skies overhead will be very quiet. To go along with mostly clear skies is a kickoff temperature of 75°. By the time the game wraps up, readings could be down to 65° at 10pm.

If you are going on a road trip for this holiday weekend, you won’t be running into any speed bumps. A large area of high pressure is situated across the Midwest. This will keep our cloud cover scarce throughout the next four days. Mr. Sunshine will be following you wherever you are headed! -ADAM

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 29, 2008

2/3 Rainy, 1/3 Dry


With the rain chance quickly fading as this evening wears on, we’ll be wrapping up the month of August – and climatological summer – on a dry note. Let’s take a look back at the months of the summer, because the first two contrasted strongly with the last one.

A trace or more of rainfall (the green squares) fell on all but six days in the month of June at RFD. In total, we picked up 6.27″ of rain. July was a real soaker with well over seven inches of rain on the month. The good thing is that we had more dry days… however, that also means that when it did rain, it usually came down at a pretty good clip. And then we hit August. Talk about dry! We’re going to end up with about an inch and a half less in the rain bucket than what we should have. RFD even had a stretch of seven days without so much as a drop of rain.

Today’s rain helped, but I’m sure quite a few people were hoping for some more. Unfortunately, a big ridge of high pressure will be in complete control, bringing us dry and warm weather for the next six days. Our next chance of rain isn’t until next Wednesday.

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 28, 2008

Wisconsin Fall Color Report

This is the first installment of the Fall Color Report from travelwisconsin.com

Be sure to check the blog each week as we highlight some of the best areas for leaf-peeping.

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 28, 2008

The Return of the Slight Risk


12:30pm Update: Here is a look at the rainfall totals from this morning across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. With a two inch rainfall for the month we could still use some more. Feel free to share your rain gauge total from this morning in the comments section.

August has been a tranquil month in regards to storms and severe weather. As of last night we had only received 1.72″ of rain (90% of which fell on two separate days). This morning I had to dust off the slight risk severe weather graphic that we use to display the area of most concern to the Storm Prediction Center. The potential for the strongest storms will be later this afternoon and this evening. This morning’s showers are quickly winding down. We will enter a lull in the active weather during the middle of the day. Some clearing is currently taking place over Iowa. This should allow us to catch some sunshine shortly after lunch. This will energize the atmosphere and probably ignite a few thunderstorms. The strongest storms could produce some small hail and gusty winds.

The muggy dew points are pooling very close to the approaching cool front. Out in Iowa and Missouri, dew points are nearing 70°. We are only going to have to sit through the sticky conditions for about 12 hours. The thunder threat vanishes by midnight as a much more refreshing airmass moves in quickly overnight. -ADAM

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 28, 2008

Bench CAM!

That’s right… Bench CAM is back! We have a family sitting on the bus stop bench by Water Street Cafe in downtown Rockford awaiting their moments of fame on the 6 p.m. newscast. Actually, another person just showed up with a portable TV…

And here they are, waving to the masses, both at 6pm and 10!

Thanks to everyone who came out tonight! You helped brighten our day! We’ll do it again soon. Maybe with a surprise visit from one of us here at 13 News.

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 27, 2008

September Starting Off…


For those of you that are hoping for a heatwave, you might be in luck. Most of our models are pushing in a much warmer airmass for the first five days of September. This far out I am not going to be calling for our first 90° of the year, but we could easily be talking mid to upper 80s if this solution holds true.

In terms of precipitation, the month of September will be picking up where the month of August is leaving off. The drier than normal weather pattern is set to continue. Well above average rainfall is likely along the Gulf Coast during this timeframe with the likelihood of what will be Hurricane Gustav heading into the region. -ADAM

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 27, 2008

Are you a wild one?

Using native plants in your yard instead of non-native ones can save you time and money! Wild Ones is a non-profit organization that teaches people how to incorporate native plants into landscapes. Tim Lewis is the national director of Wild Ones says plants used to the climate don’t need fertilizer or chemicals. And they don’t usually need much watering either. He says when first starting out with whatever plants, have patience!

Wild Ones meets every third Thursday at the Burpee Museum. For more information, click here.

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 26, 2008

DEVELOPING STORY: FAA computer malfunction causing flight delays

According to NBC News: FAA is experiencing a computer malfunction at its facility in suburban Atlanta, Georgia. The back up system in Salt Lake City is working to process flight plans which are needed for every aircraft before take-off. Numerous flight delays have been seen at the major airports including Chicago-O’Hare. At 2:45pm MSNBC reported that Chicago-Midway is experiencing no delays. Until this clears up, call your air-carrier before heading out to avoid unnecessary delays at airport terminals. Due to the fact that there is a secondary FAA processing facility, there is no threat to any passengers or planes.

13News is working on this story. For more, check out the headlines page at wrex.com and 13News at Five and Six.

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This post was written by Eric Sorensen on August 26, 2008