Drought Monitor

Spring is upon us. Farmers and gardeners are paying close attention to the forecast, especially this time of year. As we all know, rainfall is a key ingredient for healthy crops, fruits, vegetables, and flowers in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

Many of us begin to monitor how much rain we receive. Government agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provide weekly updates of the U.S. Drought Monitor. This tool keeps track of rainfall deficits and dry conditions across the country.

Apr. 17 Drought Monitor

Apr. 17 Drought Monitor

Thursday’s update shows that abnormally dry conditions are present in parts of our area.  A portion of northwestern Illinois roughly bounded by US Route 20 on the north, US Route 30 on the south, the Rock River on the east, and the Mississippi River on the west is drier than normal.

Rainfall Statistics

Rainfall Statistics for Meteorological Spring

While 1.71 inches of rain has fallen in Rockford during the month of April, just 1.03 inches of precipitation fell in March. Based on historical averages, we have a rainfall deficit of nearly an inch-and-a-half. This deficit is slightly higher in the area highlighted above.

We could use a little rain around here! A few showers are in the forecast for late-day Sunday and Monday, although current forecast trends give us less than a quarter-inch of rain.

-Joe

 

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, drought, First Look, rain, statistics, weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on April 17, 2014

On Our Way Up

The last five days have been very interesting in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin:

  • Nearly 80 degrees with strong thunderstorms on Saturday
  • Soaking, all-day rains—between 1 to 2 inches for many of us—on Sunday
  • A light coating of snow on Monday that pushed us into 5th place for most snow
  • Chilly temperatures that barely made it out of the 30s on Tuesday
  • Gusty south winds—over 40mph at times—on Wednesday

What in the world will happen next?!

The overall temperature trend is up, mild-weather fans! High temperatures will be in the middle 50s for Thursday and Friday. A few isolated sprinkles or light showers are possible, although most of those days will be dry and partly cloudy.

Trending Up

Trending Up

By the weekend, 60-degree temperatures will return to the Stateline. Sunshine will be plentiful on Saturday but showers will dot the sky on Sunday.  The 60s will stick around next Monday before our thermometers make a run for 70 degrees next Tuesday & Wednesday.

Back Above Average

Back Above Average

Feels like we’re riding a roller coaster!

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on April 16, 2014

It’s Been a While

Ample sunshine and a breezy south wind will usher in the mildest temperatures of the year on Sunday.

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In fact, that last time our thermometers cracked the 60-degree mark was on November 17, 2013! On that day, our temperature rose to 69 degrees. While upper 60s are out of the question for Sunday, a few spots well south of Rockford could achieve that on Monday.

High near 60°

High near 60°

Monday—while more cloudy (possibly thundery) and very blustery—will see highs push into the middle 60s across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. The last time we had back-to-back 60+ degree days was at the end of last October!

Enjoy the last two days of March, because things will cool down into the 40s for the first several days of April!

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, BBQ Alert, FutureTrack, statistics, weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on March 29, 2014

Seasonal Snow Update

With a quick dusting of snow Monday night in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, our seasonal rank moved up a notch!  Officially 0.2 inches of snow was observed at Chicago Rockford International Airport, bringing our seasonal snow total to 56.6 inches.

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This ties us into 7th place with the snowy 2008-2009 season.  Here is a look at the top 10 snowiest seasons on record in Rockford:

  • 74.5″ —– 1978-1979
  • 72.9″ —– 2007-2008
  • 62.1″ —– 1951-1952
  • 61.0″ —– 1942-1943
  • 58.2″ —– 1974-1975
  • 56.7″ —– 1925-1926
  • 56.6″ —– 2008-2009
  • 56.6″ —– 2013-2014
  • 55.9″ —– 1911-1912
  • 55.2″ —– 1959-1960

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, record weather, snow, statistics, weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on March 25, 2014

March Melt

It happens every March. Temperatures warm up, the sun angle is high, and snow begins to melt. With a snowpack that has been in place for over 90 days, it will take a while for all of it to melt.

Although a major warm-up is not in our immediate future, this week’s high temperatures will be much closer to average than the first week of March. Our average high temperature during the second week of March is in the middle 40s.

Forecast High Temps vs. Average High Temps

Forecast High Temps vs. Average High Temps

In the 7-Day Forecast, we’ve got plenty of temperature ups and downs. A couple of the days will likely touch 50 degrees!

When was the last time we saw 50 degrees? This happened over three months ago on December 4, 2013. Even more impressive is the fact that our high temperature has only cracked the 40 degree mark five times in 2014!

With rapid snowmelt comes the threat for flooding. Thankfully, we won’t see a rapid snowmelt. But even with a gradual melt, we still have to monitor the potential for ice jam flooding on area rivers.

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, flooding, weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on March 9, 2014

3rd Place: Good or Bad?

SNOW. There hasn’t been a lot of “in between” this season; you either love it or hate it. Since November 11th, Rockford has witnessed 54.9 inches of snow. Little did we know that on December 8th, a record long stretch of days with snow on the ground would begin!

Since December 8th, our weather observation site at Chicago Rockford International Airport has steadily picked up 53.9 inches of snow. Thanks to record cold temperatures and a weather pattern that brought the white stuff as frequently as every other day, snow has remained on the ground for 90 days!

snowstats1

We’re in record territory. December 9, 2013 through March 8, 2014 is currently the 3rd longest stretch of days with snow on the ground. This edges out an 89-day period with snow on the ground from 1977-1978.

As of March 8, 2014

As of March 8, 2014

Here are the Top 5 longest stretches of days with snow on the ground in Rockford:

  1. 107 days ending March 18, 1979
  2. 97 days ending March 18, 1962
  3. 90 days so far this season
  4. 89 days ending March 18, 1978
  5. 59 days ending February 11, 1984

With a warming trend in our forecast, our streak may soon come to an end. If we keep snow on the ground through next Saturday—which is possible—we will tie for 2nd place!

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, record weather, snow, statistics, weather, winter weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on March 8, 2014

Don’t Get Used to It

It’s about time! CaptureWe are making a run for 40 as we head into the afternoon. It feels like a mini heat wave, but when today is put into perspective, this should be just another ordinary March day. The average high in early March puts us in the low 40s. This is the first of three 40 degree days out of the next seven, but by mid to late week, we are back to cooler weather again. The next two weeks will remain below average.  – Greg

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, heat wave

This post was written by GregBobos on March 7, 2014

March 2nd Record Cold

It has been a record-filled first weekend of March. First came the snow on Saturday and then the cold on Sunday.

Thanks to two rounds of snow during the 24-hour period of March 1st, a total of 4.6 inches of snow fell at Chicago Rockford International Airport. This was the highest one-day total observed on any March 1st since 1906! The previous record was just 2.0 inches from 1943.

Local High Temps: March 2, 2014

Local High Temps: March 2, 2014

As arctic air settled in on Sunday, the high temperature in Rockford only topped out at a chilly 9 degrees. This is the coldest high temperature ever observed on any March 2nd since 1906. In fact, Sunday’s high replaced a 102-year-old record! The previous record was 14 degrees from 1912. What’s even more interesting is that March 2, 2014 will likely enter the record books as the coldest March high temperature ever!!! Until now, the coldest March high was 10 degrees on March 8, 1932.

New Record Cold High Temperature

New Record Cold High Temperature

If that wasn’t enough, two more records could fall on Monday….

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, cold blast, record weather, snow, statistics, weather, winter weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on March 2, 2014

This Winter vs. 1970s Winters

Meteorological winter will wrap up at the end of the month. Typically the coldest three months of the year, meteorological winter includes the entire months of December, January, and February. As we all know, this winter has been exceptionally snowy and cold. In fact, we are currently the 4th coldest winter on record!  Amazingly, the top 3 coldest winters in Rockford all occurred one after another in the late 1970s.

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The winters of 1976-77, 1977-78, and 1978-79 were the coldest, taking into account high and low temperatures.  The winters of 1977-78 and 1978-79 hold the title for the 13th snowiest and 2nd snowiest, respectively.  The snowiest meteorological winter was 2007-08 with 65.1 inches.

stuff2

With our current forecast through the end of the month (Thursday & Friday), we have a good shot at tying for the 3rd coldest winter! But what happens after meteorological winter?

March 1st is the start of meteorological spring. Meteorological spring encompasses March, April, and May. The average temperature  for the season is 48.9°F.  If we look at the harsh winters of the late 70s, many of them ended up with below average spring temperatures.  One year that bucked the trend was 1977: coming off of the 3rd coldest winter was the 2nd warmest spring on record!

Near the Chrysler Plant in the late 1970s

Near the Chrysler Plant in the late 1970s

Snow is likely during the first half of meteorological spring; it’s even possible into May.  However, after snowier-than-average winters in 1977-78 and 1978-79, spring snowfall was actually below average.  Hopefully that is a sign of things to come as we head through the next several weeks! Winter 2013-14 is, after all, the 9th snowiest on record.

Meteorological Winter vs. Meteorological Spring

Meteorological Winter vs. Meteorological Spring

In the weeks to come, there are a few signs that temperatures will warm above average. Unfortunately, it’s not until the middle of March! Looking beyond spring, the three late 1970′s meteorological summer seasons ended up just slightly below average on the temperature trend.

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, climate/climate change, cold blast, news, photos, record weather, snow, statistics, weather, winter weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on February 26, 2014

On Track for 9th Snowiest

With meteorological winter coming to an end this Friday, it looks as though this winter will go down as the 9th snowiest in Rockford’s history! Meteorological winter is defined as the entire months of December, January and February. During this time-frame, 46.5 inches of snow was recorded at Chicago Rockford International Airport on the city’s south side.

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Looking at our extended forecast, there is one chance of accumulating snow through the end of the month.  That chance arrives Monday evening and Monday night.  A quick coating of snow up to 1 inch is possible, although models are trending less today than on Saturday.  So I would give us just a 30% chance of seeing an extra inch of snow added to our seasonal total.  However, if we do pick up one more inch, winter 2013/2014 could slip into the 8th snowiest spot.

We’ll be tracking Monday evening’s round of light snow on 13 News Weekend and 13 News Today.

Here are the Top 10 snowiest winters in Rockford:

  1. 65.1 inches — 2007/2008
  2. 63.4 inches — 1978/1979
  3. 51.2 inches — 2010/2011
  4. 49.9 inches — 1993/1994
  5. 49.3 inches — 2008/2009
  6. 48.9 inches — 2009/2010
  7. 48.9 inches — 1909/1910
  8. 47.3 inches — 1973/1974
  9. 46.5 inches — 2013/2014*
  10. 46.4 inches — 1917/1918

*as of February 23, 2014

We all know that Mother Nature doesn’t stop the snow from falling when the calender hits March 1st, so we’ll be tracking our yearly snowfall total beyond the end of meteorological winter.  Our yearly snowfall is recorded from July through June, and our snowiest was 1978/1979 with 74.5 inches followed closely by 2007/2008 with 72.9 inches.  As it stands right now, 2013/2014 is at 47.5 inches of snow.

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, climate/climate change, record weather, snow, statistics, weather, winter weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on February 23, 2014