Tropical “Storm” In Illinois

June 18, 2015: Tropical Storm Bill has been stirring up plenty of trouble with rain and wind since it made landfall in Texas earlier this week, and we may feel some of those impacts in our region. One of the advantages of living in the Midwest is NOT having to deal with tropical storms and hurricanes. However, every once in a while, one holds together just enough to provide the Midwest with a little rain.

bill path

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You can see here that Bill started over the warm, moist air of the Gulf of Mexico, and made landfall this past Tuesday. Sustained winds were around 40 mph, but the wind gusts were in the 60 mph range. As Bill moves north, the storm will weaken, since the very warm and humid air of the Gulf won’t be feeding it any more. The storm essentially weakens into a strong low pressure system, similar to ones we get around here to bring us rain. What’s neat is that southern Illinois will be getting a taste of Bill this weekend!  The storm will not be nearly as strong, as you can see.


Click on image to enlarge

While Bill brings blustery winds, the bigger impact is the rainfall Bill is able to provide.  In fact, with most hurricanes and tropical storms, its not the winds that do the most damage, like you would think.  It’s the rain and flooding this storms can create. You can see in the radar image from Thursday evening that numerous flash flood warnings are out (in maroon), though a few severe thunderstorm warnings are occurring too (in orange).

bill precip

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Here’s the 48-hour rainfall totals from the the stretch Bill has covered.  This doesn’t capture all of the rain Bill has dropped, but you get a decent picture that these storms can drop a ton of soaking rain, especially since they move pretty slow (Bill is only moving north at 11 mph), allowing the heavy showers to sit on places until they are flooding.  In fact, some areas in Texas saw 6″ to 10″ of rain, while in Oklahoma, certain areas had 4″ to 8″ of rainfall!

Bill will be much weaker by the time the storm reaches Illinois this Saturday, but a possible 2″ or more of rain may still fall as the weakening storm moves eastward.  The Stateline should be a little too far north to get rainfall from Bill, though we may get to see some of the clouds streaming off the storm over our area, which is a neat bonus.  It’s not often we get to say our weather is being influenced by a tropical system in these parts!

– Alex


Posted under flooding, rain, science, tropical weather, weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 18, 2015

Super Typhoon Haiyan strikes the Philippines


At 195mph, Super Typhoon Haiyan is the strongest landfalling tropical system in history! Haiyan made a landfall around 4pm CST taking Hurricane Camille to the #2 spot. Camille made a landfall in Louisiana and Mississippi, just east of where Katrina came ashore in 2005.

BYgOSz5CIAAW8Y1This is the first visible satellite image taken within the past hour. Keep in mind, even though it’s evening here, this photograph was taken at Friday morning’s first light. It shows a buzz-saw appearance, indicative of an extremely powerful tropical system.

Power is out to much of the area affected now meaning the extent of the devastation won’t be seen for probably another day.
Amazing radar loop showing the storm approaching the islands:

Watch live coverage from CNN International by clicking here.


Posted under tropical weather, weather

This post was written by qni_it on November 7, 2013

Gulf Coast Hurricane this weekend?

1A pretty intense tropical low pressure system is spinning just off the coast of Cancun, Mexico. It’s a large system in size, but with respect to true tropical characteristics, it’s weak. An Air Force Hurricane Hunter aircraft inspected the storm Wednesday night and didn’t find a tight circulation at the surface. Once that happens it will become a tropical storm. Where will it go? No question about it: North!

Here’s a look at what our models are doing to the system (which will likely be Tropical Storm Karen) on Thursday. There’s a chance Karen could become a2 Category 1 hurricane by the time it nears the Gulf Coast Friday or Saturday. Heavy rain and flooding would be the biggest threats to the east of the center of circulation…most likely along the Florida Panhandle. -Eric

Links: National Hurricane Center:


Posted under tropical weather

This post was written by qni_it on October 2, 2013

Hurricane Humberto

We finally have our first hurricane of the 2013 season, Humberto, and it was nearly a record breaker. At 4:00am it gained hurricane status with sustained wind of 75mph. This put it just 3 hours shy of setting the record as the latest “1st hurricane” of a in a year. 0The previous record was set back in 2002 when that year’s first hurricane, Gustav, formed on this same date at 7:00am. Though we have already see eight named storms so far this season, none of them have reached hurricane status until Humberto.

Humberto is expected to weaken in the next few days and fizzle out in the Atlantic.  -Greg


Posted under tropical weather, weather

This post was written by qni_it on September 11, 2013

Hurricane Season Starts to Pick Up

The month of August is when the threat for severe weather in the Midwest slowly begins to decrease, but it is also when the threat for tropical storm formation really starts to ramp up. 1August 1st marks the point at which the number of cyclones on average per month increases drastically straight into September and October. Why is the peak so late when it has already been warm for months? The answer is simple, it takes large bodies of water, such as the Atlantic Ocean, a long time to warm. Around August into September is when the water temperatures begin to peak, and hurricanes need very warm water to form and sustain themselves. All is quiet well off into the Atlantic.. for now, but we will be keeping a close eye out there in the weeks to come. -Greg 2


Posted under tropical weather

This post was written by qni_it on August 2, 2013

Tropical Storm Flossie

2Hawaiians are bracing themselves as Tropical Storm Flossie makes its approach. The storm has weakened in the past 12 hours, but as of 11am CST it still has a sustained wind speed of 45mph with gusts as high as 60mph. The Big Island and Maui are expected to see the brunt of the storm with the likelihood of 18 foot waves, flash flooding, mudslides, tornadoes and waterspouts. Despite the weakening of the system, many signs point to Flossie remaining a tropical storm until we head into Wednesday. -Greg


Posted under flooding, tropical weather, weather

This post was written by qni_it on July 29, 2013

First Named Storm of 2013

The first Tropical Storm of the 2013 season has started to leave its mark on Western Florida. Tropical Storm Andrea has a sustained wind speed of 60mph and wind gusts in excess of 80mph. The storm is bringing tropical storm conditions to nearly all of Northern Florida and is expected to dump 4-7″ of rain across the state before it exits late tonight into tomorrow. It’s current track will take it across the state roughly 100 miles north of Tampa Bay. Andrea then looks to take a path just to the east of the East Coast and out to the North Atlantic by Saturday afternoon. This is the first named storm of 2013 and this season follows one of the most active on record in 2012 when there were 19 named storms. Hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th. -Greg312


Posted under rain, tropical weather

This post was written by qni_it on June 6, 2013

Hurricane researcher: Have you ever seen a storm like this? “Never.”

The Meteorological world will continue to learn from Superstorm Sandy, even well after the damage in the Mid Atlantic is cleaned up. Bob Henson, Meteorologist with the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research looks at the Meteorology behind Sandy and why (and how) a hurricane could morph into a superstorm. There are three different ways it’s possible and researchers say all three processes may have been at work. Click here to read the entire article. Don’t forget to come back and leave a comment! -Eric



Posted under tropical weather

This post was written by qni_it on November 2, 2012

Bystander refuses to help, two boys die

I have no words for what this. -Eric


Posted under news, tropical weather

This post was written by qni_it on November 2, 2012

Blocking patterns, climate change, and increasing big weather events

Hurricane Sandy broke records as it slammed into New Jersey this week. The number of those killed creeps toward 100 as the damage estimate nears $100 Billion. But why hasn’t New Jersey been struck by a hurricane in generations? Typically, hurricanes are thrown out to sea by a strong jet stream that moves west to east across the Eastern Seaboard. However, as Sandy moved northward from Cuba, it encountered a large, expansive high pressure system over Eastern Canada. With a low pressure system sitting east of Bermuda, there was only one thing for the hurricane to do: turn left.

We are so fortunate to have a network of reliable computer models. There’s no way to know how many lives the  investment in these models saved. The ECMWF model had Sandy making this left turn about 5 days in advance! While Meteorologists scratched their heads saying “That’s not possible!” it became apparent that the blocking high pressure would cause Sandy to make that left turn…something no other hurricane had done before!

If you’ve been watching national news coverage of the aftermath of the storm, you’ve probably picked up on several reporters and pundits linking this storm to climate change. Before I dive into this topic, let me take you back several years ago when I had the opportunity to attend a climate change conference. Stu Ostro, Senior Meteorologist with The Weather Channel, gave a fascinating talk about global warming…more specifically, United States warming. It was then that I was sold on the fact it was occurring. What did it? He showed a simple bar graph of the increasing record highs being observed. He then showed a decreasing number of record lows being observed. Note: He was a skeptic of climate change until he began studying it. And Stu has since written several articles linking big, long-term blocking patterns to significant weather events.

It’s no secret this summer was one of the driest on record for the Central U.S. This was caused by a pattern that blocked significant areas of low pressure from moving west to east across the Central United States. And the same thing happened with Sandy. The pressures bombed out within the storm as it interacted with cold air moving into the Eastern Seaboard causing the system to intensify and spread out, affecting an area 1,000 miles across.

The lesson that should be learned about the affect climate change is having on weather pattern is higher variability! Some climate scientists believe this is due to the loss of Arctic Sea Ice. However, climate change is introducing more chaos into our weather patterns. The droughts are drier, the arctic outbreaks are colder, the high pressure systems are more expansive (and blocking), and the low pressure systems (hurricanes) act erratically due to different steering currents of air.

In the past five years, we have been learning more about the blocking pattern called the “Greenland Block” (also called a negative NAO-North Atlantic Oscillation). This is when a dominant area of warm, high pressure sets up over Greenland and the Canadian Maritimes. This causes cool, Canadian air to move down from Northwest Canada into the Great Lakes States. As the jet moves back north, an active stormtrack exists from the Ohio Valley into Ontario. If this blocking pattern materializes, it can last for several weeks to a month! Conversely, the oscillation can go positive, causing a large ridge to reside over the Central United States (which was the culprit for several nearly snow-less winters, including 2011/2012).

And we are just beginning to learn more about how the Pacific Oscillation of the jet stream is able to modify our long-term weather. The strength and placement of the jet over Alaska is being linked to how persistent the trough is over the Central United States (and vice versa: how it relates to a ridge should the Greenland block go into positive phase).

The important bottom line is we’re in a learning mode when it comes to climate change and its effects on weather patterns. The good news is that knowledge levels are increasing and weather modeling is getting better. The bad news is the fact that big weather events are occurring more frequently, and it doesn’t look like it’s going to slow down anytime soon. -Eric


Posted under 13 Climate Authority, climate/climate change, tropical weather

This post was written by qni_it on November 1, 2012