Watching Out for a Wednesday Winter Storm in Wisconsin…

March 21, 2016: The calendar says “Spring!” but our weather will take a few days to catch up. After a day in the 60’s on Tuesday, we’ll drop to the 40’s with possibly some snow in the air by Thursday!

If you’ve heard rumors of a major storm dropping 6″ or more on Rockford during the middle of the week, you can rest a little easier.  While there’s a slight chance that may still happen, it is looking a lot more likely that we’ll see a lot of rain, some thunderstorms, and a little snow sneaking in by Thursday.

Possible storm tracks for Wednesday into Thursday (white- NAM, orange- GFS, blue- GEM, red- European

Possible storm tracks for Wednesday into Thursday (white- NAM, orange- GFS, blue- GEM, red- European

Here’s a map showing the model runs from Monday morning. While there is still some wiggle room in how the low may track (as all four models listed have a slightly different take on the storm), the average path among them keeps the heavy snow to the north, with mostly rain showers over us. Even if the storm takes the southern-most storm track, we’d still see mostly rain, with only a few inches of snow.

Possible storm tracks for Wednesday into Thursday (white- NAM, orange- GFS, blue- GEM, red- European

Possible storm tracks for Wednesday into Thursday (white- NAM, orange- GFS, blue- GEM, red- European

Regardless of how the storm performs Wednesday into early Thursday, by Thursday afternoon we should see light snow take over as the atmosphere cools off as the low pressure leaves and brings in much colder air. We’d likely see accumulations stay under 1″ during the tail end of the storm, especially with air temperatures staying above freezing.

Winter Storm Watch issued 3/21/16 for Thursday, March 24

Winter Storm Watch issued 3/21/16 for Thursday, March 24

With all this in mind, the National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Watches highlighting where the heavy snow should fall, while keeping the “wiggle room” in the models in mind. As you can see, the watches are well to our north, so we should be in the clear.

On a side note- thunderstorms are possible within the rain showers Wednesday, a few could be on the strong side with strong wind gusts and small hail.  We’ll provide updates on the likelihood of those as we get closer to Wednesday, but be ready in case of strong storms Wednesday evening.

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 21, 2016

Windy Wednesday

March 16, 2016: Unlike last night when severe thunderstorms kicked up strong winds, today’s very strong and blustery winds have nothing to do with thunderstorms.

WREX 2016

Instead, we can look to a deep area of low pressure near Green Bay, WI, for why we are getting pummeled with high wind gusts today.  The air around the region tries to fill in the “divot” in the atmosphere, but due to the rotation of the Earth, the strong air flow, which we know as wind, rotates around the low. A few other factors come into play, but the deeper the low, the stronger the winds.

Storm Spotters 5

Today’s round of very windy weather featured wind gusts over 50 mph, which knocked down trees, power lines, branches, and even some light posts in Chicago. Driving became very difficult, and likely more than a few trash cans escaped their owners’ yards for while.

The winds will be settling down this evening, but will remain blustery for a while through Thursday.

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 16, 2016

Why do we have Daylight Saving Time?

March 11, 2016: This weekend is part 1 of our semiannual tradition of flipping the clocks ahead or back as part of Daylight Saving Time.  In this case, we “spring ahead” as Daylight Saving Time begins. We’ll be in Daylight Saving Time until November 1, when clocks will be “falling back” one hour.

2013_Daylight_Saving_Starts_Clock_USA

This is usually done at 2 am on the 2nd Sunday of March (which is this Sunday), when we move our clocks ahead to 3 am, though you can always do that before you go to bed Saturday night (or when you get up Sunday, just don’t forget!).  It’s not a bad idea either to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, then test them to make sure they work.

So why do we do this every year? It boils down to energy usage.  The thought behind daylight saving is that by adjusting the clocks for the summer, you could take advantage of the “longer” evenings and not have to use electric lighting, etc. for a longer period.  This practice was first used in widespread fashion during the world wars to help conserve precious materials and fuel for the war effort. The US first used daylight saving time in World War 1, then stopped the practice until World War 2, when clocks were put ahead for an hour during the duration of the war.  After the war, daylight saving time wasn’t enforced, but some places still used it. From 1945 to 1966, there was a lot of confusion, as you could go from place to place and sometimes be changing your watch constantly!  In 1967, daylight saving time became the law of the land.

The practice remains controversial, however. We may save a little on energy usage with not having to turn on the lights earlier in the evening, and certain business and events like afternoon and evening sports benefit from the longer evenings.  However, we may be using our air conditioning and such more during the evenings while we are awake to stay cool, so energy savings may very little.

Daylight saving time is still in practice for the foreseeable future, so again, don’t forget to move the clocks ahead an hour on Sunday!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 11, 2016

Will it get cold again this March?

March 9, 2016: It’s easy to get used to this week’s weather!  Temperatures soared to as warm as the 70’s by Tuesday, but now temperatures will settle into the 50’s for the next week or so, which is still at least 10° above average.

Now that spring has sprung early, will it stick around? That’s a big question a lot of people are curious about, so let’s dive into it.

First off, we aren’t looking for cold air anytime soon. In fact, the weather looks to stay above average through at least next Wednesday! That means at least another week of the 50’s, with some days in the 60’s.

That means we’ll have to look further out for signs of cold air.  Keep in mind, the farther we go out from the present, the more could change with the weather situation, so the maps I show next won’t be exactly what happens in the coming weeks:

The GFS model showing the jet stream for next Friday night, March 18th.

The GFS model showing the jet stream for next Friday night, March 18th. Click on the image to enlarge.

Here’s one computer model’s thoughts on the jet stream about 10 days out from now (next Friday). Do you see that ‘U’ shape in the wind pattern, and how far south it goes? That doesn’t look good for us.  This pattern points toward bringing in much colder air out of Canada.

Surface temperatures for Friday, March 18th, according to the GFS model

Surface temperatures for Friday, March 18th, according to the GFS model. Click on the image to enlarge.

Surface temperatures for Friday, March 18th, according to the European model

Surface temperatures for Friday, March 18th, according to the European model. Click on the image to enlarge.

These next two maps are two different computers models (the GFS model and the European model) and what they think surface temperatures will be under that possible weather pattern next Friday.  Remember, take this with a grain a salt, but don’t put away the heavy jackets yet!  While the models differ on where to put the coldest air, they both agree that we’ll see highs in the middle to low 40’s, which by that point is closer to 10 degrees BELOW average!

Surface temperatures for Sunday, March 20th, according to the GFS model.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Surface temperatures for Sunday, March 20th, according to the GFS model. Click on the image to enlarge.

If we look even farther out, the GFS model wants to bring us highs in the 30’s by the following Sunday!

Remember, a lot can change with all of this.  As the models get more information, they’ll refine their forecast, plus getting closer to next Friday gives the models much more current information to work with.

It isn’t surprising that be might see cold weather before the month is over- it is March after all! This month definitely has a lot of back and forth weather!

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 9, 2016

Severe Weather Preparedness Week 2016

March 3, 2016: This week is Severe Weather Preparedness Week for the state of Illinois. Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, the state has its statewide tornado drill, so you likely heard the warning sirens, and your weather radio also may have gone off with a test message. The National Weather Service also held a storm spotter training class for Winnebago County.

The purpose of the week is to remind and refresh residents on the dangers of severe weather. Why so early in March, when there’s still snow in the forecast? Look at it this way- there’s still plenty of time to get ready and refresh yourself on your severe weather plan of action before the storms start to hit our area!

Billboard 2

So what should you do to get ready?  First, review your severe weather plan of action. Don’t have one? Here’s what you should think over and coordinate with your friends and family: where do you need to go to be safe from severe weather?  This includes tornadoes, severe thunderstorms with hail and high winds, and flash flooding. You may know where to go in your house or apartment, but do you know where to go at work, at school, at church, or anywhere else you visit frequently?  If you don’t know, start asking at those places or ask us at 13 WREX- we are hear to help!

Secondly, make sure you have multiple ways to get severe weather information.  This may include:

– outdoor warning sirens (***IMPORTANT***: remember that those sirens are only meant for people outdoors! You may not hear them in the house, so don’t completely rely on them!)

– local TV and radio stations

– a NOAA weather radio

– text message alerts or weather app alerts

– calls from family or friends to relay important information

– the internet

Multiple ways to get severe weather alerts is very, very important.  Only relying on one way to get warnings can lead to injury or worse, in case that particular method does not get your attention in time.

Severe weather season is coming up fast- while severe weather can happen at any time of the year (even in winter), our peak season for tornadoes is between April and June, with flash flood events mostly likely between July and August. Start getting ready now, and stay tuned for more information like this as we get closer to the start of severe weather season!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 3, 2016