Chill Out This Weekend

We’re about a month early to be seeing temperatures like we’re having today and Saturday. October averages middle to upper 60’s for high temperatures within the first 10 days of the month, but fall came knocking a little early across the Stateline.
The first week of September brought us high temperatures in the 90’s and low temperatures in the 70’s, and we’ll have to subtract about 25 degrees from that for the weekend.

weekendTemperatures will range from the middle to upper 60’s today and Saturday, to the low 70’s by Sunday. But that’s not the chill that’s going to make you want the heat on.

10 DEG COOLOvernight low temperatures (very early Saturday and Sunday morning) will dip down to the 40’s! In some spots, that’s about 10 degrees cooler than this morning.

My advice- sleep in until we hit at least 50 degrees ;)


Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on September 11, 2015

Weekend Weather!

There are so many exciting things about today! The two that come to mind first for me, Edwards Apple Orchard opens up and Friday Night Football starts. So let’s check out that weekend forecast.

We could see a few light showers as we head into the late afternoon and early evening today, although the heavy stuff is falling to our northwest, and tracking northeast toward central and north central Wisconsin.

8-28-15 satrad 1030

There’s a better chance to see a few showers and thunderstorms in the late evening and overnight tonight. We could run into some heavy rainfall overnight, leading us into as much as an inch of rainfall.

8-28-15 tonight

We’ll hold onto the chance for some of those showers and t’storms to stick around throughout Saturday morning, however most of it looks to clear up by the time we head later into the afternoon hours.

One thing that isn’t going anywhere- the clouds. A cloudy and mostly cloudy sky will hang tight throughout the afternoon today and tomorrow. Expect some more sunshine by the time we head into Sunday, that’s when temps finally reach (and exceed) average.

The good news is- the bulk of the rain looks like it’s happening overnight Friday into early Saturday morning.


Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on August 28, 2015

8 Lightning Deaths This Month, 13 This Year

A fear of tornadoes is a widespread uneasiness. The worry of lightning is not quite as widespread, and the severity isn’t always taken as serious.

Did you know there have been more fatalities from lightning strikes than tornadoes in the United States this year?

Did you know lightning strikes in the United States about 25 million times each year?

6-29-15 lightnings

Many people wait too long to go indoors when a thunderstorm is approaching, and do not abide by the old saying “When thunder roars, go indoors.”

In fact, the United States has had 13 deaths due to lightning just this year. 8 of those deaths happened in the last 29 days. EVERY single one of them happened outdoors.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recorded 5 women and 8 men were struck and killed by lightning, doing activities such as walking, riding a motorcycle, camping, fishing, and more. For information on where these deaths occurred, click here.

So how about reviewing some lightning safety?

If you’re outdoors, there’s not a lot you can do to substantially reduce your risk of being struck by lightning. Your safest option is to find shelter in a safe building or vehicle.

If you absolutely cannot seek safe shelter, there are some outdoor lightning safety tips that will slightly lessen your risk of being struck:

-Avoid high heights, the tops of hills, and open fields.
-Stay away from tall isolated objects such as trees-If you’re with a group of people, spread it. This could avoid the current traveling from one person to the next.
-Stay away from wet objects and metal objects. Water and metal do not attract lightning, but they are great conductors of electricity.

For more safety tips with specific locations, click here.



Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on June 29, 2015

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Amboy got drenched with a few more heavy showers earlier this morning, adding to the 3.12″ of rainfall they received on Monday. Roadways in that region as well as a sports park are being flooded with rainfall on top of already-saturated soil from the weekend.

6-17 BLOG 1

Many of you have sent in photos of the flooded regions in your area (thank you!) but what about our rivers/creeks? Some of those have taken on too much water.

Let’s start with a few that are near flood stage. The Pecatonica River at Freeport has reached 12.7 feet, which is just 0.3″ shy of being considered flooded. Experts forecast a decline in the river’s stage as we head into the next week. The Pec River near Shirland is also nearly flooded, totaling in at 10.99″, which is about 1 inch from being flooded. It is expected to to top out around 11 feet, then start the decline process in the coming week. The Rock River also has some near-flooded areas. At Byron, it’s reached 11.6 feet, just shy of the 13 foot flood stage mark. At Dixon, the Rock River is 2.4 inches shy of being flooded. Both are expected to rise slightly, though stay below flood level before declining in the coming week. All of these areas are under a Flood Advisory issued by the National Weather Service.6-17 BLOG 2

We’re not all in the clear, however. There is minor flooding happening in the Kishwaukee River at Perryville. There, the river has risen to 12.4 feet and is still in the minor flood stage at 12.1 feet. It is forecast to decline out of that stage by Friday, but not before reaching 12.9 feet. A Flood Warning has been issued for this area by the National Weather Service.

6-17 BLOG 3

Moderate flooding is happening in the Rock River at Como near Sterling. There, the river has reached 11.62 feet and is still in the moderate flood stage at 11.04 feet. Flood stage for that area is 10 feet, and it’s expected to still be in moderate flood range today near 10.8 feet and be in the clear by the weekend.

6-17 BLOG 4



Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on June 17, 2015

So…What Happened Yesterday?


Wind shear…check.


So what happened to the severe thunderstorms yesterday?

I think it’s important to go back after any severe weather event (whether it comes to fruition or not) and understand why things happened and/or why things didn’t happen.
Thursday morning we had many showers and thunderstorms fire up, dropping 1-3″ of rain in just the morning hours. These happened *before the warm front (our last ingredient for severe weather) lifted north to the Stateline.

6-11-15 radar image for blog

Here were the thoughts Thursday morning: A warm front that was placed in central Illinois will lift north in the mid afternoon hours, bringing with it a warm, humid airmass. Combine that with the wind shear and moisture in place, and we’ve got a severe weather threat on our hands.

So, why didn’t that warm front stay in central Illinois and not lift into Northern Illinois in the early/mid afternoon? Did you notice the cool breeze?

6-11-15 warm front

It has to do with something called an outflow boundary. Sometimes, thunderstorms will trigger an outflow boundary, and yesterday morning, they did just that. I learned to think of outflow boundaries as dropping a water balloon on an angled driveway. When it splashes, the water hits the ground and moves in the direction the driveway in angled. Except with an outflow boundary, we’re talking about air. The cool air from the downdraft of the thunderstorms yesterday surged southward, and we were able to see a northerly wind in areas along I-88. We could also see this outflow boundary on radar yesterday, extending from the southern edge of Lake Michigan (some of this may have been enhanced from the lake) stretching all the way to the Quad Cities area. We could even see a thunderstorm pop up along the outflow boundary near Joliet. Think of it as a smaller version of a cold front.

6-11-15 ofb6-11-15 ofb2

So what does this have to do with our warm front? Well, the warm front was in central Illinois. The outflow boundary was surging southward toward it while it was trying to lift northward.  This ended up stalling our warm front.



Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on June 12, 2015

Whose showers bring whose flowers?

“April showers bring May flowers,” or do they?

June 1st officially marked the first day of meteorological summer, however the summer solstice doesn’t actually occur until June 21st. Who’s counting, right? ;)

Actually, farmers, landscapers, and gardeners just might be.

After a rainy last few months, an area landscaper tells WREX-TV each rainy day sets them back another 3 days! You can read about that by clicking here, my purpose is to tell you how much has been falling.

A normal spring in Rockford drops close to 10 inches of rainfall, before we head into drier territory in July. 6-2 RAINFALL 1

Not so bad, right? Well, within the last 5 years, four of them have been ABOVE average and we’re on track to possibly make it 5 out of 6 this year.

Here’s what the past five have looked like:
2014: 10.59″
2013: 13.37″
2012: 7.84″
2011: 10.75″
2010: 10.12″

So far this spring, Rockford has gotten 8.87″ of rainfall which is close to 2.5″ above what we should be at for this time of year. April 9th’s tornado event contributed to that big time.

6-2 RAINFALL 2So, which days were the windshield wipers on full blast? Here’s a recap:

April 9th: 2.24″
May 5th: 0.84″
May 24th: 0.75″
May 4th: 0.58″
March 23rd: 0.53″

The month of May brought Rockford 4.85 inches of rainfall, while the month of April “wrung” in 3.12 inches. The final days we have in the spring season this June bring in 3.21″ of rain on average, the rainiest of the entire season.

So, whose showers bring whose flowers?


Guess it depends on the year! :)



Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on June 2, 2015

Project: Tornado…The Final Days

The end is near, but the reason has only just begun!
Severe weather season is in full swing, and the 13 Weather Authority has been making sure Stateline students know how to handle it by continuing Project: Tornado.

Within the last three weeks, we have traveled to 19 schools across Northern Illinois educating elementary students on how thunderstorms form and how to stay safe during a tornado. As of today, roughly 2,651 students are prepared for severe weather, and we’re still not done!
Next week, we finish off our final week of Project: Tornado, as we head to Spring Creek Elementary, Rolling Green, Barbour Language Academy, Swan Hillman and St. Mary’s School to educate another 1,200 students. This means almost 4,000 Stateline students will know exactly what to do when severe weather strikes.

Each student receives a Project: Tornado booklet, filled with pictures, games, and important information to help them understand thunderstorm processes, tornadoes, safety, and local historic tornadoes.
Here’s a sneak peek:




























‘Severe weather ready’ students are from Conklin Elementary, Perry Elementary, Pecatonica Elementary, Keith Country Day, Jefferson Elementary, Immanuel Lutheran School, Ellis Arts Academy, Lincoln-Douglas Elementary, Rockford Lutheran Academy, Thurgood Marshall School, Ralston Elementary, C. Henry Bloom, Holy Family Catholic School, West View Elementary, Shirland School, Highland Grade School, Loves Park Elementary, Lewis Lemon Elementary, and Nashold Elementary.



Posted under event, Exactrack|HD, history, Project: Tornado, safety, science, severe weather, tornado, weather, weather geek, Wind

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on May 15, 2015

Severe Weather Ready

We’ve got the opportunity to see some scattered thunderstorms this afternoon, carrying that over to the evening and overnight hours. Although the risk of these turning severe is very low, they’ll bring along lightning and gusty winds.

Most of your Saturday afternoon is looking dry, but we’ll likely see some lingering showers in the morning, and pick up some more as we head overnight into Sunday. The cloud cover is sticking around throughout the entire weekend, and cooler weather takes overs on Saturday after a cold front sweeps through.

Eyes to the sky as we head into Sunday night and Monday. A low pressure system accompanied by a warm, moist airmass will make way for a chance of severe thunderstorm activity. The main threats are strong winds and hail, but isolated tornadoes are possible.

rochelle wx radio


We’ve been talking about severe weather safety a lot lately, and it’s so important to not rely on an outdoor warning system in the event of severe weather. These sirens are only reliable if you are outdoors and/or within ear’s reach. Get severe weather ready with a weather radio. The 13 Weather Authority will be at the Walgreens in Rochelle from 5PM through 7PM programming weather radios for free! Don’t get caught in severe weather without a warning.

Good news: Things look to dry up by mid week next week! Temperatures hover the upper 60’s and lower 70’s.



Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on May 8, 2015

Continuing the Conversation…

Every year as we approach and push through the months of spring, severe weather is always a big topic. Perhaps it’s been an even larger topic recently, considering the 11 tornadoes that occurred in early April across the state of Illinois, 7 of which affected the Stateline.

Last night, I was able to attend a symposium where meteorologists from Northern Illinois University and the National Weather Service in Chicago, as well as NIU’s emergency management coordinator spoke on behalf of how a meteorologist interprets severe weather, a breakdown of the April 9th EF-4 tornado, and necessary steps to take to stay safe throughout severe weather.

Ph.D. student Stephen Strader presented research that he has been working on with NIU’s Dr. Walker Ashley, part of it focusing on the path of this tornado.  He compared it to the effects it could have had if it was shifted about 12 miles northwest through the Byron nuclear power station, to the southeast through the NIU campus, or even through Chicago. All scenarios that could very well happen, likely causing much more damage.

Senior Meteorologist Gino Izzi of the National Weather Service in Chicago was the meteorologist that was issuing the tornado warnings on April 9th, 2015. He analyzed the radar and explained the different panels used when dissecting a storm. Since a bulk of the audience was the general public, perhaps the biggest takeaway (in my opinion) was his note about his choice on issuing tornado warnings. Among his colleagues, he says he’s been getting the reputation of the “older and more conservative” meteorologist. He explained what that meant when determining whether or not he should issue a tornado warning. The takeaway? There is A LOT of studying, analyzing, thought, and confidence put into the warnings that are issued BEFORE they are issued, so be sure to take them seriously.

Northern Illinois University’s staff meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste talked about staying safe during severe weather. A big note, “have a plan.” At times, you could only have seconds before you’re in the path of danger, and it’s important to have a plan ahead of time. He also noted that many fatalities due to tornadoes are completely preventable, unfortunately people choose to ignore the warning. He gave information on ways to stay safe on the campus, listing all of the resources available to students. He also mentioned the plethora of resources available to the general public when it comes to severe weather. Those include outdoor warning sirens, text warnings, social media posts, weather radios, etc.

So, I ask this question to you: what does it take for you personally to take a tornado warning seriously? The meteorologists that prepared and presented last night at NIU say the whole point was to educate people.

It is so important to continue to conversation of severe weather.

With all of that being said, the 13 Weather Authority is committed to continuing the conversation throughout severe weather season with you. We’ve already begun our Project: Tornado events this week. For the entire month, we are visiting elementary schools across northern Illinois educating kids on severe weather, how to stay safe, and answering questions they may have. Roughly 4,000 students will go home with a Project: Tornado book filled with pictures, games, and knowledge of severe weather.

4-28-15 PT perry









We’re also beginning our Weather Radio events Friday, May 1st. Our first event will be held at the Schnucks in Cherry Valley from 5PM-7PM. You can stop by and purchase a weather radio, and our team of meteorologists will program it for you for free. It’s easy! Already have a weather radio but need it programmed? Great- bring it to us and we’ll get it set up for you.
We’re doing these events throughout the entire month of May. The list of where we’ll be can be found here: WREX Weather Radio Events. Stay tuned for the list for the month of June.

wx radio 5-1









There are so many continuing conversations about safety on every level, whether it’s texting and driving, Stranger Danger, Click it or Tick it, or Stop, Look & Listen . Let’s add severe weather safety to the list and let’s continue the conversation.


Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on May 1, 2015

A Look Back 48 Years Ago and 11 Days Ago

We are 11 days removed from the EF-4 tornado that ripped through north central Illinois, beginning in Franklin Grove, stretching 43.5 miles through Flagg and into Fairdale. While locals and non-locals are pitching in on the effort of recovery for residents affected by 7 tornadoes on April 9th 2015, many are also remembering the devastation from a tornado that struck the Stateline nearly 48 years ago.

On April 21st, 1967 the city of Belvidere experienced a deadly tornado, with eerily similar damage to the EF-4 tornado on April 9th 2015, but this one was twelve times as deadly.

Let’s flash back to meteorology in the 1900’s. Right after World War 11, the weather community started the use of radars, which were around for about 30 years by the time the Belvidere Tornado occured.
4-9 radar imageIn 1948, less than 20 years before the 1967 tornado, Robert C. Miller and E. J. Fawbush correctly predicted the first tornado in Oklahoma.  10-15 years before the Belvidere Tornado, computers ran their first models of the atmosphere. Just 5 years before the deadly tornado hit Boone County, Keith Browning and Frank Ludlam published a detailed study of a supercell storm, the first one of it’s kind. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years after the Belvidere tornado that Dr. Tetsuya Theodore Fujita invented the “Fujita Scale.”

Are you catching my drift here? While the foundation and structure of much of meteorology was founded, knowledge and awareness was minimal on the atmosphere during the early and mid 20th century. This is a key contributor to the saved lives and safety of many Stateliners on April 9th 2015.

The tornado that devastated Boone County 48 years ago was rated an “F-4″ on the Fujita Scale. According to the Fujita Scale, an F-4 tornado *estimates wind speeds between 207 and 260 mph, and typical damage includes well-constructed houses leveled, weak foundation structures blown away, and cars thrown. We now know that the Fujita Scale could over-estimate wind speeds, which is why we now use the Enhanced Fujita Scale (another educational advancement).

Still, the damage we see in photos of the Belvidere Tornado in 1967 grimly mimic the photos being posted from Fairdale within the past 11 days.

According to Jim Allsopp, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service, the Belvidere Tornado first struck just before 4PM 2 miles southeast of Cherry Valley. It went on to destroy 300 new cars and 100 employee cars at the Chrysler Plant, which was only a fraction of the damage it would go on to create. The tornado moved on to the southeast side of Belvidere, where 127 homes were destroyed and hundreds more were damaged.

At the time, Belvidere High School had just dismissed students onto buses filled with elementary school students. 12 buses were rolled over and children were flung into muddy fields.


In 2011, Ken Anderson (left) told WREX, “My bus (#30) was moved 100 yards by the tornado. I was wedged under a seat, my shirt soaked red with blood. I saw one, little body half buried in the mud. That memory, an 11 year old should never witness. In this picture, I am on the left (shirt tail out). That concerned look on my face marked the end of my childhood.” At Belvidere High School, 13 people were killed and another 300 were injured, which was just a little more than half of the havoc caused that day.




Dale Marks also vividly remembers April 21st 1967, “They tell me I was lucky. I only had both legs and pelvis broken. Our bus was just on the north side of the school. I think there were five people killed on my bus.’
belvtor1The Belvidere Tornado of 1967 went on to kill a total of 24 people and injure another 500.
To read Jim Allsopp’s full synopsis of the event, click here. To read all of the survivor comments from 2011, click here.



The Belvidere Tornado of 1967 was an F-4 and was up to 1/2 mile wide. It traveled 25-28 miles on the ground.
fairdale1The tornado that hit Fairdale (left) eleven days ago was an EF-4 that was nearly 1/2 mile wide. It traveled 30 miles on the ground.
But, what about the fatalities and injuries? During the 1967 F-4, 24 people were killed and another 500 were injured. During the 2015 EF-4, 2 people were killed and 22 were injured.







Education and awareness are saving people’s lives.

The Storm Prediction Center was able to put out the risk of severe weather nearly a week ahead of the April 9th event. The Chicago National Weather Service was able to implement watches and warnings with ample time to get to safety before these tornadoes struck communities. In fact, Ogle County Sheriff Brian Van Vickle stated, “I don’t think you could’ve asked for better warning.” Local TV meteorologists were able to give in depth explanations on air and online about WHY that Thursday could end with severe weather. We all could do this because of advancements in the world of meteorology.
4-9 radar image 2

In my opinion, the most important thing meteorologists can do is continue to explain to you WHY we could see dangerous weather, WHY we saw dangerous weather, or WHY we ended up not seeing dangerous weather. We’re living in a world with Google at our fingertips, with politics overlapping into sciences, and with education being pushed on everyone. We have been raised and trained to ask questions. Why would you believe something just because someone told you? You have the right to question. I think it’s our job to explain to you why it’s a threat, not just the fact that it’s a threat.

In my opinion, one of the most important things we as a community can learn from both of these deadly tornadoes, is the importance of heeding warnings and continuing to educate yourselves and listening to “the why” instead of chalking it up to “sensationalism,” “hype,” and even “TV ratings.”

Because awareness and education is one of the biggest contributing factors in the difference in death and injuries during severe weather.


Posted under event, history, news, safety, science, severe weather, statistics, tornado, weather, weather geek

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on April 20, 2015