See the International Space Station tonight

issThe International Space Station will be viewable in the sky this evening. It will only last for a few minutes so you’ll have to be ready!

It will first appear along the NW horizon and sweep across the night sky and will look like a very fast moving plane.

We are expecting clear skies so this will be a great time to see it and would be a great thing to see whether you’re a kid or a kid at heart.

Check out this website for other times to view the ISS.

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Posted under space

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 30, 2010

What are the odds of rain on July 4th?

fourthrainfallFor a few days now we’ve had an isolated thunderstorm looming on Sunday’s panel of the 7 Day Outlook. Because you’re on the blog I’ll let you in on a little secret here. More often than not, you’ll find me putting in an isolated storm on outdoor-dependent holidays. Why? It’s easier to have everyone plan ahead for a slight chance. In addition, it is always easier for us to take the chance of rain out than it is to put that chance in at the last minute. I’m sure you’ve heard or muttered the phrase “It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without a chance of rain.” Surprisingly, more often than not, Independence Days here in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin are dry! In fact, 53% of the time (going back 104 years) we haven’t had a drop. And there have only been a handful of times we’ve had flooding rains (over an inch).

fourthtemperaturesAs far as temperatures, we are most likely to see highs in the 80s. There have only been 16 times when the high has surpassed 90°. Last year’s Independence Day was a rarity when the high temperature barely touched 70°.

Here is a look back at a few years of weather on the Fourth of July:

  • 2009: Temperatures 70°/58° Rainfall: 0.18″
  • 2008: Temperatures 78°/51° Rainfall: none
  • 2007: Temperatures 87°/67° Rainfall: 0.01″
  • 2006: Temperatures 81°/64° Rainfall: none
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Posted under climate/climate change, weather

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 30, 2010

Hurricane Alex coming ashore tonight

alex1The National Hurricane Center upgraded Alex to a Category 1 hurricane shortly before 10 p.m. Tuesday Night. As of this morning, Alex has sustained winds of 80 mph and is moving rather slow around 7 mph. The NWS pushed Alex’s landfall back to late tonight or early tomorrow. But by then the storm could have winds of at least 90 mph when it makes shore, and the winds could increase up to 110 mph which would make it Category 2 hurricane. Alex is the first June hurricane in the Atlantic since 1995.

Bands of intense rain began lashing Southern Texas and northeast Mexico early this morning. Texas residents had been preparing for the storm for days, boarding their homes and stocking up on household essentials.

rain1Alex is expected to bring torrential rainfall up to 8 to 12 inches in the region and as much as 20 inches in isolated areas.

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Posted under tropical weather

This post was written by Cyndi Kahlbaum on June 30, 2010

Alex is not likely to bring us much rain

alex_moistureAs Alex strengthens into a hurricane tonight, the big question on our minds here is whether or not Alex will bring us rain for the upcoming holiday weekend.

High pressure is set to hold firm across the Deep South for the remainder of the week. This should shunt much of the tropical moisture across West Texas into Colorado and the Plains. Some of this moisture will be kicked up with monsoon moisture and sent into the Dakotas this weekend but should remain west of us for the most part.

It is very rare for a Mexico-landfalling hurricane to bring us rain here in Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin. Hurricanes that come ashore near Houston and the coastal bend (area just southwest of there) are most likely to bring us tropical rains. -ES

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Posted under tropical weather

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 29, 2010

Ever wonder how we get upper air observations worldwide?

Welcome to the world of Radio Occultation. Since is is almost impossible to get the number of upper air observations that we as meteorologists desire, we have a way of estimating them. Many of us have a GPS receiver in our car, but I bet that you don’t know what else our GPS constellation can do. Up to 32 satellites are in use and orbiting the earth at any given time. These satellites emit a beam that can help us track our location here on earth, but they also can help give a temperature profile. Radio Occultation satellites in their most basic form are receivers of the radio waves emitted by the GPS satellites. These receivers travel in random orbits around the earth, and when they happen to align themselves with an emitted signal from a GPS satellite (1000′s of times per day), they measure how the beam bends and changes as it travels through easth’s atmosphere. As the temperature varies through different depths of our atmosphere, the radio waves will bend and change speed ever so slightly. The Radio Occulatation satellites receive this change and calculate an atmospheric sounding very similar to what we see from actual weather balloon launches. All of this data then goes into creating our global weather models and works to give a more complete picture of our weather pattern.

Check out this awesome website to see LIVE radio occultations! You can even tell when to look up on a dark evening and see these satellites!

-AB

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Posted under weather

This post was written by Aaron Brackett on June 29, 2010

Aaron and Eric aboard a B17 bomber!

We had the delight to be invited to ride on an authentic WWII bomber today! Aaron and myself climbed aboard and took off from the Chicago/Rockford Int’l Airport. We’re glad we didn’t encounter much turbulence with the gigantic opening in the middle of the fuselage. If you’d like more information on how YOU can go inside and even ride in the B17 this week, click here.

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Posted under weather

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 28, 2010

Lee Trevino struck by lightning 35 years ago

(courtesy NWS-Chicago Forecast Office)Thirty-five years ago, in June 1975, PGA golfer Lee Trevino was struck by lightning during the Western Open at Butler National Golf Club in Oak Brook. He sustained spinal injuries which hampered him for the rest of his playing career.

The anniversary of this event serves as a good reminder for lightning safety as we approach the busy July 4th weekend. If thunder is heard, immediately seek shelter in the nearest permanent building or vehicle to protect yourself from lightning. Avoid outdoor “shelters,” as they provide little protection from lightning. Wait at least 30 minutes until resuming outdoor activities.

More information on lightning safety can be found here:

http://www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/

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Posted under weather

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 28, 2010

Alex a Tropical Storm again

116After spending some time raining itself out over the Yucatan Peninsula, Alex is once again a tropical storm. Before making landfall, the system had maximum sustained winds of near 65 mph, which is just under hurricane force. Now that the storm is over open waters, the warm Gulf will act to fuel this potential hurricane further. The only good news is that with strong high pressure near Florida, the track will tend more westerly and away from the oil problems in the upper Gulf. Current trends indicate a landfall on the eastern coast of Mexico around Wednesday.

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Posted under tropical weather

This post was written by Aaron Brackett on June 28, 2010

Taking a dunk for a cause

I was able to go out to Oregon on Saturday to get dunked for a good cause. This year’s Summer Splash event was held to raise money for a new pool in Oregon. The old public pool was removed, leaving kids without a place to play in the summer. Through many activities held at this event, money raised will go to a new pool.

Aaron Dunk Tank

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Posted under weather

This post was written by Aaron Brackett on June 27, 2010

The Omega Block returns

img000006What is going to be beinging our beautiful weather this coming week? The Omega Block! Simply put, an omega block is when we observe a prolonged pattern of Trough-Ridge-Trough in the upper levels. If you use your imagination, this pattern can sometimes resemble the Greek letter “omega”. Since this is a blocking pattern and will not be going anywhere too fast, we will be enjoying broad northwest flow which will pour in comfortable and stable air. Expect mostly clear skies through at least Thursday with lower humidities and temperatures in the lower 80′s.

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Posted under weather

This post was written by Aaron Brackett on June 27, 2010