There are 525,948 minutes in a year. How many are spent in a weather warning?

Most of the United States is relatively safe when it comes to severe weather. Of course, we think of Oklahoma and Texas as being prime spots for tornadoes. But a new map shows us the average amount of time spent in a weather warning per county. Daryl Herzmann of Iowa State University released some great maps this week. Take a look!

First, here is the average time spent in a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.
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Of course, the higher likelihood for severe thunderstorms lies in the Tornado Alley state of Oklahoma. But notice the maximum over Eastern Tennessee and even Northern Ohio. It may be a little difficult to see the actual location of states because the dark black lines in this map represent the borders of the National Weather Service offices. Here in Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin, we are serviced by three different offices, Milwaukee-Sullivan, Quad Cities-Davenport, and Chicago-Romeoville.

Next up, the map showing the average minutes of the year spent in a Tornado Warning:

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A few things on this map stand out. First, the larger counties within a tornado-prone zone have a higher chance of being within a warning polygon. Of note is the number of minutes in McLean Co., IL (Bloomington-Normal) which is the largest county in Illinois in bright red compared to Putnam Co., IL (North of Peoria) which is blue.

Daryl went further and took square kilometers into account with the following map. This one is telling! It shows the highest likelihood of a Tornado Warning (not necessarily a full-fledged, on-the-ground tornado) to be in Mississippi.
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So, while we may think of Tornado Alley being Texas and Oklahoma, the higher threat of tornadoes may reside in the Deep South…at least looking at the data over the past 20 years.

Finally, for your viewing pleasure? The map for Flash Flood Warnings per county. It’s easy to see the highest probabilities for flash flooding in the past 20 years are in Southern Missouri and in the Desert Southwest.

ffw

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Posted under flooding, severe weather, tornado, weather

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on April 10, 2014

Why we escaped the tornadoes yesterday

We made it through one of the biggest November tornado outbreaks in history. However, Central and Southern Illinois were not nearly as lucky as we were in the northern third of the state. Here’s why:
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This is a snapshot of Exactrack|HD from Sunday morning. You can see the tornadic storms in Central Illinois and in Southeastern Wisconsin. Even though the cold front was still to our west, the tornadic storms in Central Illinois distrupted the wind flow into the storms along the cold front. So, indirectly, the storms to our south spared us here in Northern Illinois.

Here’s a schematic of the event yesterday.

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We did have funnel clouds reported early on across McHenry Co., up into Walworth, Racine, and Kenosha Cos. But the storms to our southwest just couldn’t materialize because the moisture and energy source had been decreased much like a kinked hose. Had the storms not developed around Peoria, the scenes of complete destruction would be much closer to home.

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When severe weather is forecast, it’s important to understand the risk. We, as well as every TV station in Illinois, forecast severe weather for Sunday. For us, I put the word “Active Storms” on the 7 Day Forecast Thursday at 5pm. Here’s a look at the Storm Prediction Center’s forecast map for severe weather along with the reports. That, right there is your tax dollars being put to a good use. -Eric

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Posted under tornado

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on November 18, 2013

Washington Tornado: EF-4

The National Weather Service has completed a preliminary survey of the damaged caused by yesterday’s tornado in Washington, IL. The results have lead the weather service to categorize the twister as an EF-4, the second strongest classification. This particular tornado is believed to have had wind speeds between 170-190mph. Here are the criteria for an EF-4.  24We will keep you posted as more develops! -Greg

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Posted under event, First Look, tornado

This post was written by GregBobos on November 18, 2013

Late-season thunderstorm outbreak possible Sunday

severeIf everything clicks into position, there is a possibility of a severe storm outbreak in the Midwest Sunday. But this is far from set in stone, obviously not a sure bet yet.

However, it is something to watch. There will be plenty of moisture available with dewpoints in the 50s expected. That’s what we would normally see in September, not November. The timing of a cold front could put it through the Rockford area during the early afternoon hours (peak heating), with a strong jet stream overhead. But, the timing is suspect. Right now, a few models bring it in too quickly (morning hours) which would preclude any severe storm activity.

calOne thing is for certain. We know severe thunderstorms and tornadoes can occur in November. This photo was taken November 22, 2010 shortly before a tornado struck Caledonia, Illinois. It’s hard to say if any tornadoes will be possible here Sunday, but I will say there is at least a tiny possibility right now. Stay tuned! -Eric

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Posted under tornado

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on November 14, 2013

Fewer Tornadoes in 2013: Nationally, Not Locally

Even though we are heading into the colder months, it is important to remember that severe weather and tornadoes can happen anytime during the year. 

With the main tornado season behind us, both Illinois and Wisconsin have had less tornado activity than expected. This follows the national trend.  Only 770 tornadoes (as of this blog post) have been reported across the United States, fewer than any year since 2005.

Illinois & Wisconsin Tornadoes since 2004

Illinois & Wisconsin Tornadoes since 2004

 

Just 20 tornadoes have been reported in the Land of Lincoln from January 1st through today (October 16th).  The number is even less for Wisconsin, with 15 confirmed tornadoes.  Illinois sees 54 tornadoes on average every year; Wisconsin averages 24 tornadoes.

One of the main reasons why this year’s tornado count is so low was the weather pattern during Spring.  Spring was filled with extended periods of rain and slow-moving weather systems, which helped keep temperatures down.  Tornadic thunderstorms often thrive when there is a clash of airmass and temperature, something which did not happen much in 2013.

As we transitioned to Summer, the jet stream–which drives our weather–moved well to the north along the Canadian border, keeping much of the nation in a 3 month period of drought.

Believe it or not, 40% of Illinois’ tornadoes this year occurred in the Stateline area!  With 8 tornadoes between May 19th and June 24th, we had an above average year.  Since 1950, the Stateline sees 3 or 4 tornadoes on average per year. 

In 2013, most local tornadoes were brief and rated EF-0.  But on June 12th, an EF-2 tornado touched down in western Carroll County near Savanna and Mount Carroll.  On the same day, an EF-1 tornado pushed through southern DeKalb County near Shabbona.

2013 Local Tornadoes

2013 Local Tornadoes

The year is not over, but hopefully we will not have to endure anymore tornadoes.  They can and do occur at anytime of year (Caledonia Tornado in November 2010, Poplar Grove Tornado in January 2008).

-Joe

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, news, Project: Tornado, science, severe weather, statistics, tornado, weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on October 16, 2013

Stateline Tornadoes Since 1950

A recent report shows that the United States has had fewer than normal tornadoes during 2013.  Illinois and Wisconsin, as a whole, have witnessed the same trend.  That is not the case locally, however.

Number of Local Tornadoes by County Since 1950

Number of Local Tornadoes by County Since 1950

The Stateline had 8 confirmed tornadoes so far this year, all occurring between the end of May and the end of June.  Since 1950, our local area averages 3 to 4 tornadoes every year.  Within our 13 county area, Lee & Whiteside County in Illinois and Rock & Walworth County in Wisconsin have picked up the most tornadoes since 1950.  We all have the same exact risk, however, as nothing in our geography prevents tornadoes from forming or the paths they take.

Let’s hope the national trend continues locally for the rest of the year!

-Joe

 

 

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, news, Project: Tornado, severe weather, statistics, tornado, weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on October 16, 2013

Tornado confirmed in Lee County on Monday

whirleyThe National Weather Service sent a survey team to assess the damage across Lee County from the derecho that moved from Iowa into Indiana.

They conclude that a tornado was on the ground for 4 miles with a width of 100 yards. From the National Weather Service:

THIS PATH WAS MAINLY OVER FARM FIELDS BUT DID TAKE DOWN NUMEROUS 
UTILITY POLES...INCLUDING A FEW THAT WERE BENT SHARPLY TO THE 
SOUTH...OPPOSITE OF THE STORM MOTION WHICH WAS NORTHEAST. THESE 
ALIGNED WITH THE NORTH PART OF THE DAMAGE SWATH. ONE WEAKLY 
CONSTRUCTED BARN WAS DESTROYED NEAR THE END OF THIS PATH. DAMAGE TO 
THE CORN CANOPY AT CROSSROADS ALONG THIS PATH REVEALED A MORE 
CONVERGENT SIGNATURE INDICATIVE OF A SHORT-LIVED TORNADO.

However, we posted photos last night of significant damage to homes and a grain elevator in Walton, Illinois. It was determined this was caused by straight-line wind near 100 mph!

THROUGHOUT THIS SWATH INDICATIONS WERE THAT WIND GUSTS WERE IN 
EXCESS OF 60 MPH WITH MULTIPLE  LOCATIONS OBSERVING SPEEDS IN EXCESS 
OF 80 MPH. AT TIMES DAMAGE WAS SOMEWHAT SPORADIC AND IN ZIG-ZAG TYPE 
ORIENTATION...BUT OVERALL THIS WAS A SEMI-CONTINUOUS CORRIDOR ABOUT 
ONE TO ONE AND A HALF MILES IN WIDTH. DEBRIS AND FALLEN TREE 
PLACEMENT TO THE NORTHEAST...ALL CORN FLATTENING OR BENDING TO THE 
NORTHEAST...AND MOST EYE-WITNESS REPORTS INDICATE THIS WAS FROM 
STRAIGHT-LINE WINDS. 

NEAR THE BEGINNING OF THIS ENHANCED WIND AREA...A LARGE OUTBUILDING 
WHICH WAS BOLTED TO ITS FOUNDATION WAS DESTROYED WITH SEVERAL LARGE 
PIECES BEING LIFTED AND THROWN DOWNSTREAM. ONE PART OF THE BARN WALL 
WAS LIFTED UP AND TOOK A PIECE OF THE FOUNDATION WITH IT. SLIGHTLY 
DOWNSTREAM A LARGE TREE WAS SNAPPED NEAR ITS BASE AT A PROPERTY WITH 
THE TREE FALLING ON THE FRONT PORTION OF THE HOUSE. IN WALTON...FOUR 
LARGE GRAIN STORAGE BINS WERE DESTROYED ALONG WITH A METAL 
OUTBUILDING. THE DEBRIS FROM THIS WAS FLUNG DOWNSTREAM...INCLUDING A 
FEW PIECES BEING IMPALED IN THE REMAINING STANDING PART OF THE 
ELEVATOR WHICH WAS ON THE EAST MOST SIDE OF THE PROPERTY. TWO OF 
THE BINS WERE BASICALLY FOLDED IN ON EACH OTHER. NEAR THE END OF 
THIS SWATH...THERE WERE A HANDFUL OF LARGE TREES SNAPPED WITH 
NUMEROUS UPROOTED.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE WIND DAMAGE IN THIS AREA WILL BE 
PROVIDED AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE.

THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE WOULD LIKE TO THANK LEE COUNTY 
EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT...AMBOY ESDA...AND ROCKFORD MEDIA PARTNERS WHO 
ASSISTED WITH PHOTOS AND DETAILED REPORTS OF THE DAMAGE IN ADVANCE.
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Posted under tornado

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 25, 2013

Damaging thunderstorms today in Lee County

Hardest hit areas were near Walton, Illinois, just west of Amboy. Trained storm spotters reported a tornado touchdown in this area. The worst damage was at the Consolidated Grain and Barge Company of Walton. Thanks to everyone sending in photos today! -Eric
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Posted under severe weather, tornado

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 24, 2013

Three tornadoes confirmed in Northern Illinois yesterday

All but one county (Stephenson) in our viewing area was under some sort of weather warning on Wednesday. Today, survey teams from the National Weather Service surveyed damage in Jo Daviess, Carroll, and DeKalb Counties. Here are their findings:

1Jo Daviess Co.
* LOCATION…3 SOUTH OF HANOVER ILLINOIS IN THE WOODS
* TIMING…AROUND 6:50 PM.
* INJURIES/FATALITIES…NONE.
* EF-SCALE RATING…EF0.
* ESTIMATED MAX WIND SPEED…65 MPH.
* MAX WIDTH…20 YARDS.
* PATH LENGTH…APPROXIMATELY 1/2 MILE.
* DAMAGE INFORMATION…BRIEF TOUCHDOWN WITH NO SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE.

2Carroll Co.
* LOCATION…THE TRACK BEGAN 6 MILES NORTH OF SAVANNA AND ENDED 4
MILES WEST OF MOUNT CARROLL
* TIMING…FROM 6:53 TO 7:03 PM.
* INJURIES/FATALITIES…1 INJURY.
* EF-SCALE RATING…EF2.
* ESTIMATED MAX WIND SPEED…135 MPH.
* MAX WIDTH…ONE HALF MILE
* PATH LENGTH…APPROXIMATELY 6 MILES.
* DAMAGE INFORMATION…THE PATH OF THE TORNADO WAS WELL DEFINED WITH
SIGNIFICANT TREE DAMAGE. SEVERAL FARM OUT BUILDINGS WERE DAMAGED
AND ONE HOUSE WAS PUSHED OFF ITS FOUNDATION.

3DeKalb Co.
* LOCATION…THE TRACK BEGAN 2.5 MILES SW OF SHABBONA AND ENDED 3 MILES SE OF SHABBONA.
*TIMING…FROM 4:32 O 4:37PM
*INJURIES/FATALITIES…NONE
*EF-SCALE RATING…EF-1
*ESTIMATED MAX WIND SPEED…95 MPH.
*MAX WIDTH…100 YARDS.
* PATH LENGTH…2.25 MILES.
* DAMAGE INFORMATION..NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE PERSONNEL SURVEYED DAMAGE IN EASTERN
LEE…SOUTHERN DE KALB…AND KENDALL COUNTIES OF ILLINOIS. THE
SURVEY TEAM DETERMINED THAT MUCH OF WHAT THEY FOUND WAS STRAIGHT
LINE WIND DAMAGE…BUT ONE AREA SOUTH OF SHABBONA IN SOUTHEAST DE
KALB COUNTY WAS CONFIRMED TO BE A TORNADO.

THE MAXIMUM DAMAGE OCCURRED OVER AN APPROXIMATELY ONE MILE LONG
SEGMENT OF THE PATH WHERE THE TORNADO SNAPPED NUMEROUS UTILITY
POLES AND AROUND 80 PERCENT OF THE LARGE HARDWOOD TREES. ALONG
THE REMAINDER OF THE TORNADO PATH THERE WAS MINOR TREE DAMAGE.
MINOR SHINGLE PEELING WAS SEEN AT ONE LOCATION…BUT FOR THE MOST
PART THE TORNADO DID NOT INTERSECT ANY STRUCTURES.

THIS TORNADO PATH ALSO WAS COINCIDENT WITH A NEARLY MILE-LONG
SWATH OF LARGE HAIL THAT PRODUCED EXTENSIVE SHREDDING AND SMASHING
OF CROPS.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON THE WIND DAMAGE IN THIS AREA WILL BE
PROVIDED AS IT BECOMES AVAILABLE. THE DAMAGE WAS SCATTERED AND
CONSISTENT WITH MAINLY 60-80 MPH WINDS. THIS INCLUDED ABOUT A
HALF DOZEN GRAIN BINS DENTED AND NUMEROUS LARGE TREES DOWNED.

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Posted under tornado

This post was written by Eric Sorensen on June 13, 2013

Storm Survey in Lee & DeKalb County

Severe thunderstorms moved through eastern Iowa, northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin on Wednesday.  A few tornadoes touched down, including one which tracked through southern Jo Daviess and Carroll County.  There were also a few storms with unconfirmed tornado reports; those reports will be verified by the National Weather Service over the next couple of days.

 

The National Weather Service (NWS) Office in Romeoville, Illinois—which serves parts of our area—plans to conduct a storm damage survey today.  NWS employees will travel to southeastern Lee and southern DeKalb County, as well as nearby Kendall County.  On Wednesday afternoon, a severe thunderstorm moved through the Paw Paw, Shabbona, Somonauk and Yorkville areas, causing widespread wind damage.  Photos and even a few videos of the event seem to suggest a tornado caused some of the damage.  Toppled trees and power poles as well as damage to a few grain bins were initially reported.  A video of the possible tornado near Paw Paw was posted on the weather blog; you can find it HERE. 

The NWS employees will assess the damage and determine if a tornado did indeed touch down or if strong, straight-line winds are to blame.  We will let you know the outcome as soon as we know.

-Joe

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Posted under photos, severe weather, tornado, weather

This post was written by Joe Astolfi on June 13, 2013