Summer Solstice: June 21

June 20, 2015: The astronomical or “official” start of summer is here tomorrow! The summer season begins at 11:38 a.m., and is the longest day of the year.

SUMMER SOLSTICE

Click on image to enlarge

The Earth is tilted the most toward the sun in the Northern Hemisphere, giving us the most amount of daylight. In fact, the day is a whopping 6 hours longer than the Winter Solstice, or the shortest day of the year! The sun’s rays are also nearly 5 times stronger during this part of the summer, allowing us to heat up quickly during the day.  As we tilt away from the sun in the coming months, the sun’s rays get weaker as they have to travel a little farther through space to reach us.

Enjoy the extra rays, and here’s to summer!

-Alex

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Posted under science, statistics, sunlight, warm up, weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 19, 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.
belvtor2

 

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.

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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

It’s Cold, but is it Record Breaking Cold?

February 19, 2015: The Stateline is no stranger to wicked cold winter temperatures, and dangerously cold morning wind chills. We’re used to layering up, warming our cars, and heading out into the bitter cold. This morning was another day to add to the list of uncomfortably cold mornings with hazardous wind chills. But could this one be one for the record books?

Turns out, it might be TWO for the record books.

Potential record number 1:
If Rockford’s high temperature stays in the single digits today, a 79 year old record will be broken. February 15-18, 1936 holds the record for Rockford’s latest consecutive days of single digit temperatures. Yesterday, Rockford hit a high temperature of 8°. If we combine yesterday with today’s forecast of single digit high temperatures, we’ve got ourselves a record of the latest occurrence of 2 or more consecutive single digit high temperatures.

2-19-15 recordbreakingcold2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential record number 2:

If Rockford’s high temperature only climbs to 6° or less, a 56 year record will be broken. On February 19th, 1959 Rockford only reached a high temperature of 7°, which is still the coldest for this date on ever recorded.

2-19-15 recordbreakingcold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re so lucky, right?

-Morgan Kolkmeyer

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Posted under cold blast, history, record weather, statistics, weather, weather geek, winter weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on February 19, 2015

It Rained; It Poured

Scattered showers and thunderstorms pulsed up across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin on Friday. While not everyone got wet, those who did got soaked! So much rain fell in the Forest City that Flash Flood Warnings were issued. Standing water was everywhere.

august1st

A new record was achieved in Rockford. The airport picked up 1.35 inches of rain in about two hours on August 1, 2014. This set the record for maximum daily rainfall. In other words, it has never rained so much on any August 1st since records began in 1906. The old record for maximum daily rainfall was 1.32 inches in 2000.

-Joe

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

This post was written by qni_it on August 2, 2014

Cool in July

It’s official! July 2014 was the third coolest July on record in Rockford. Most of us are probably not surprised by this! After all, we only hit 90 degrees once that month. Climate history in the Forest City began in 1906. July 2014 has tied with July 1992 and July 1996 as the third coolest of all time. There have only been two other Julys cooler than this year.

july3rd

Here are the statistics! Our high temperature averaged out to 79.2 degrees which was 5.3 degrees cooler than normal. Our low temperature averaged out to 59.1 degrees, or 3.9 degrees cooler than normal. When factoring in highs and lows, July 2014 had a temperature average of 69.1 degrees. The coolest July on record occurred just five years ago in 2009, with an average temperature of 67.0 degrees. To put this into perspective, a normal July has an average temperature of 73.8 degrees.

-Joe

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

This post was written by qni_it on August 2, 2014

Staying Relatively Cool

Tuesday was the hottest day of the summer so far. Rockford clocked in at 90 degrees for just the second time this year. But now we are back to below average temperatures….and overall, it looks to stay that way for a while.

Long range forecasting models continue to show a northwest flow weather pattern for the rest of July. The jet stream will bring in an airmass originating from northwestern Canada, keeping the heat confined to the southern United States.

July: High Probability of Below Average Temperatures

July: High Probability of Below Average Temperatures

Generally speaking, temperatures have a high likelihood of remaining below our climatological average. Statistically speaking, our average high for the rest of July is 84 degrees. Our average low is 63 degrees. Many of the upcoming days will only see highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s.

Looking ahead to August, it appears the trend for below average temperatures will continue. That’s not to say we won’t have a hot and humid day every now and then. However, data compiled through the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) suggests that odds are about one-third higher than usual for cooler-than-normal temperatures for much of the upper Midwest, including northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

August: Moderate Probability of Below Average Temperatures

August: Moderate Probability of Below Average Temperatures

As far as rainfall goes, many of us could use a few showers. Wednesday marked the 8th day in a row without rain at RFD Airport, the longest such dry streak of the year. The chance of rain will increase Friday and into the weekend.

Next Two Weeks: Near-Average Rainfall

Next Two Weeks: Near-Average Rainfall

Over the course of the next two weeks, model trends indicate a near-normal rainfall forecast. “Near-normal” means between an inch or two of rainfall.

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on July 23, 2014

First of the Season

It took one month since the summer solstice arrived, nearly two months since meteorological summer began, and 53 days since we last reached this threshold. I’m talking about, of course, a 90-degree temperature in Rockford!

90° on Tuesday

90° on Tuesday

For the first time this summer and only the second time this year, the Forest City clocked in at 90 degrees on Tuesday afternoon. Heat index values rose into the 100s across much of the Stateline, making it the hottest and hottest-feeling day of the summer.

Area High Temperatures on Tuesday

Area High Temperatures on Tuesday

Now typically this shouldn’t be such a big deal. But with the way this summer has progressed, 90 degrees is somewhat out of the ordinary! A typical summer in Rockford averages around eight 90-degree days. With July almost over, we have some catching up to do! At this time last summer, we already had seven 90-degree days and ended the season with a total of eleven. In the summer scorcher of 2012, we had a total of 42 days with high temperatures at or above 90-degrees, including six days at or above 100-degrees.

Don’t expect anymore 90s anytime soon. It appears we will remain below normal through the rest of the month.

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on July 22, 2014

Oppressive Heat Absent

For those of you waiting for a good old-fashioned summer heat wave, you’ll have to keep on waiting! It is true, however, that we will see a warm-up through the weekend and into early next week. Highs will rise into the low 80s for Saturday and Sunday. Middle and upper 80s are on tap for the first few days of the new work week. There is a good chance that Tuesday will be the warmest day of July so far! In fact, Tuesday may tie for one of the warmest days of the year!

noheatyet

The warmest temperature of meteorological summer was 89 degrees, which occurred on June 1st and June 17th. We haven’t even reached 90 degrees yet this summer! We did reach 91 on May 31st, which is technically still in meteorological spring. Compare this year’s one 90-degree day with last year and the year before. In 2013, we already had five 90-degree days by the middle of July. In 2012, we checked in with an incredible 31 90-degree days, including six days sizzling in 100-degree heat!

Even though we have yet to have a heat wave this summer, it hasn’t been a terribly cool season. The month of June had 23 days with highs in the 80s, four days with highs in the 70s, and two days with highs in the 60s. July, however, has had seven days with highs in the 80s, seven with highs in the 70s, and two with highs in the 60s. The way things are shaping up, the month of July is on track to finish cooler than the month of June! What can we expect in August? Overall, models continue to hint at a slightly cooler than average month!

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, statistics, warm up, weather

This post was written by qni_it on July 17, 2014

Chilly Mid-July Low Temperatures

Wednesday morning’s low temperatures were a bit on the chilly side! Although we are in the middle of July, temperatures bottomed out in the upper 40s and lower 50s across northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin. These kind of temperatures are what we usually expect in mid-May or mid-September!

Weds. July 16, 2014 Low Temps.

Weds. July 16, 2014 Low Temps.

Rockford did not reach a record low temperature, however. The record low for July 16th is 46 degrees from the year 1945. Rockford bottomed out at 50 this morning. It could have been worse, though. Parts of northern Wisconsin and Minnesota fell into the upper 30s!

Chilly Weds. Morning in Wisconsin

Chilly Weds. Morning in Wisconsin

The forecast for Thursday morning remains cool. Low temperatures may flirt with the record low of 49 degrees, set in 1976.

FutureTrack: Another Cool Morning Thursday

FutureTrack: Another Cool Morning Thursday

If you’re wondering when things are going to warm back up around here, check out THIS BLOG POST.

-Joe

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Posted under cold blast, FutureTrack, record weather, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on July 16, 2014

What Month is it?!

Unseasonably cool air will stick around for the next couple of days. Even though the calendar says it’s the middle of July, our temperatures will keep things feeling like it’s the middle of September! Our average high temperature this week is 85 degrees. Our average low is right around 63 degrees. Statistically speaking, this is usually the warmest time of the year.

Forecast Low & High Temperatures vs. Normal

Forecast Low & High Temperatures vs. Normal

Our low temperatures will bottom out in the 50s through Saturday morning. It appears that our record low temperatures will remain untouched. Record low temperatures for the next couple of days are in the middle 40s. However, a couple of our usual cool spots may dip below 50 degrees for an hour or two, especially Wednesday morning.

Low 50s (maybe even cooler Wednesday morning)

Low 50s (maybe even cooler Wednesday morning)

High temperatures will be hard-pressed to reach 70 degrees Tuesday afternoon!

Barely Hitting 70 on Tuesday

Barely Hitting 70 on Tuesday

After Tuesday, though, high temperatures will increase a couple of degrees every day. Here’s a look at the 7-Day Forecast; temperatures will be comfortably mild by the end of this week. Next week, there is a good chance for us to see a string of days with above normal temperatures.

-Joe

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Posted under cold blast, FutureTrack, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on July 14, 2014