Hot to Cold

Feb. 24, 2017: What a week we’ve had!

Last Friday kicked off a very warm stretch of weather, but that run ended Wednesday. We’ve been dropping about 15 degrees each day, with another potential 10 degree drop coming tomorrow as winter comes roaring back in.

Temperatures were very warm most of the week, but we’ve been in a free-fall over the last 2 days, losing 15° a day.

This afternoon we were sandwiched between two seasons: spring weather with severe thunderstorms was to our east over Indiana, with severe winter weather in the form of heavy snow and blizzards were over Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin.

Severe storms were to our east during the afternoon of Feb. 24. Blizzard warnings were to our west the night before and through Friday.

Winter finally catches up with us tonight in the form of light snow.

While the accumulations should be light, dust off your winter driving skills and be ready for slushy roads at times tonight and tomorrow morning.

The snow should leave early tomorrow, but in its place comes strong winds. With highs only around 30 degrees, that means wind chill values in the teens.

We haven’t had to deal with those in what seems live forever, so dust off your winter jacket too.

Stay warm this weekend!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 24, 2017

Why so warm?

Feb. 21, 2017: The record-setting warmth keeps rolling on this week, with likely one more day of record breaking conditions before we resume our usual cold February weather.

So, what gives? Why has the weather been so extraordinarily warm lately?

There are a few reasons, which add together to provide a record breaking week:

  1. No snow, or snow cover
  2. A large, broad ridge to block out cold air
  3. Very warm air to our south
  4. A general warmer than average weather pattern

To start off, snow reflects sunlight. This means the sun’s energy can’t go into warming the ground, which warms the air. This leads to colder air, so when we don’t have snow like right now, the air is generally warmer.

Next, there is a big, blocking ridge set up over us. The ridge is set up to our north, bottling up any cold air over Canada that usually sits over us.  The “blocking” part of the ridge blocks or weakens any weather systems that try to push in over us and sweep in cold air. Instead, they get directed south, which is why California has been so rainy and stormy lately.

This ridge has allowed the ground to bake over the west, creating an impressive area of very warm air. Southerly winds blow that air in to us, giving us a dose of very warm conditions.

Lastly, according to the National Weather Service, 90% of the days since January 2014 have been warmer than average. When we start out warmer than usual, it’s easier to jump to record-breaking weather.

All of this has combined to create an exceptional warm streak, one that hasn’t been seen in nearly 90 years. This pattern does finally break down by the end of the week, providing what will feel like very cold weather, but actually just gets us back to average.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 21, 2017

(Winter) Hot Streak!

Feb. 20, 2017: Is it Spring yet? Certainly feels like it! We set a few records this afternoon, and look to add a few more later this week.

Monday marked 4 days in a row in the upper 60’s; each day set a new record for warmest temperature on that calendar date.

Temperatures were also very close to tying the warmest February temperature on record. The warmest every for February was set at 70° back on Feb. 25, 2000.

We also broke a nearly 90-year-old record for longest stretch in the 60’s in a row in the winter! We haven’t had a warm stretch like this on record. We could break another record (stretch of 50° or warmer in a row) later this week with the warmth sticking around.

Head’s up: we do have “reality” setting back in by this weekend! The 30’s return as cold air swoops in, getting us back to average after a long stretch of very warm weather.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 20, 2017

Record Day, and Record Streaks

Feb. 17, 2017: Our early spring preview started off with a bang! Temperatures rocketed into the middle to upper 60’s, which is over 30° above average! We definitely broke Friday’s high temperature record, and we’ll be close to tying or breaking the high temperature records for each day going forward through Monday.

On top of each day being close to record breaking, we may see a record streak get broken. We can have a day or two get this warm, especially in late February, but it’s not often to see this many days in a row be this warm in the winter.

Our record for days in a row above 50° is 8 days, most recently tied in February 2000. For days at or above 60°, we’ve seen two 3-day stretches, both set in February 1930. We may see the 60’s stretch get broken, but could fall short of the 50’s stretch.

Overall, this is some of the warmest weather during the winter since hitting the 70’s during February 2000. If you like warmer weather, enjoy it! If you prefer winter, well, better luck next year, I guess? The rest of the February looks to stay warm.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 17, 2017

The #WimpyWinter continues…

I’m officially declaring this a #WimpyWinter for Northern Illinois!

It’s no secret that we’ve received far below the average amount of snowfall we typically get in Rockford and the surrounding areas. Typically during January, Rockford gets just over 10 inches of snow. This past January we received less than three quarters of an inch! That makes January 2017 the eighth least snowy month ever recorded! Are you agreeing with my #WimpyWinter hashtag yet?

While we didn’t get much snow, January was far from dry. Rockford received 2.25 inches of rain last month! In fact, if that rain would have fallen as snow instead, we would have shoveled anywhere from 18 to 27 inches of snow.

The first day of winter was December 21st, 2016. Since that date we’ve only picked up 1.5 inches of snow…TOTAL! Including today, it’s been 62 days since at least 1 inch of snow has fallen in 24 hours. I think it’s a safe bet that we’re all on board with the #WimpyWinter hashtag at this point in the article.

By the way, don’t expect to see snow in the near future. Temperatures could break records with the warmth that’s expected in Rockford this weekend.

TOP 10 LEAST SNOWY JANUARYS ON RECORD:
1) 1907 – T
2) 1911 – T
3) 1928 – T
4) 1934 – T
5) 1922 – 0.4
6) 1973 – 0.4
7) 1933- 0.5
8) 2017 – 0.7
9) 1921 – 1.0
10) 1956 – 1.2

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This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on February 16, 2017

Even Warmer Week Ahead

Feb. 13, 2017: If you enjoyed the warm weather over the weekend, good news: this week features just as warm weather, with the weekend boasting potential record-tying warmth!

To start off, Valentine’s Day is looking nice, minus the windy conditions that are expected. We then have cooler weather sliding in for Wednesday, as a cold front out of Canada drops us down for one day.

A weather system will kick up windy weather for Tuesday, then cooler conditions for Wednesday after it passes us by.

After that, here’s a preview of what you can expect for this weekend:

We’ll be near or breaking records this Friday through early next week with much warmer weather on the way

We haven’t had the 60’s since late November, and by the time we get to the weekend, it will be exactly 3 months since our last 60 degree day. We may very well see the 60’s, or close to it, by this weekend. We’ll go over the exact records for each date later this week, but for now, upper 50’s to low 60’s would be record tying or record breaking, depending on the date. I think our best chances for at least record tying weather would be this Saturday and next Monday, with the other days coming very close.

The warm weather may not stop for a while: the 2nd half of the month may continue with the warmer weather. According to the Climate Prediction Center, we have a 90% chance of warmer than average weather through the 23rd.

The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for next week. We have a 90% chance for above average temperatures (meaning warm to very warm weather!)

There’s a 70% chance to stay warm through the 27th, which essentially is the end of the month.

The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for the 21st through the 27th. We have a 70% chance for above average temperatures (meaning warm to very warm weather!)

This likely means not much if any snow in the forecast, since it may be hard to get days or weather cold enough to keep precipitation frozen. We’ll watch this closely for you, especially since we are tied for the least snowiest February on record.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 13, 2017

“Snow Drought”, But No Drought

Feb. 9, 2017: It has not looked like winter since December. We’ve had our cold days, yet it seems like anytime we get precipitation, it’s been warm enough for rain, not snow. This has left us in a “snow drought”, yet we aren’t in an actual drought. Here’s the breakdown:

December was above average, but then we’ve had zilch for snow since then. January was the 8th least snowiest, and so far (things can still change over the next 2 1/2 weeks!) February is tied for the least snowiest (again, with 18 days to go).

This only tells half the story, as we are sitting pretty well with water so far this winter. December was just a hair below average for precipitation (this includes rainfall and if you melted all the snow down and measured the total), January was fairly rainy and nearly 1″ above average, and so far February is right on track. We have more rain in the forecast this weekend, so February’s average start shouldn’t change.

Long-range outlooks point to more precipitation, but it’s too early to say with any certainty what and how much we’ll get.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 9, 2017

From one end to the other

Feb. 8, 2017: We are seeing all sorts of dramatic swings the weather this week. 2 days ago we were in the 50’s, now we are looking at subzero wind chills to start off Thursday.

To give some perspective on what typical early February weather looks like, check out the comparison between the forecast and our usual average weather for this time of year:

The impressive part is how cold we are from average, followed by how warm we’ll be above average. That’s a 20 degree swing between Thursday and Friday. At least we are going up rather than down, right? The weather should settle down this weekend and next week. We should stay above average for a little while, with more days close to 40 degrees than anything.  We aren’t out of the woods yet on getting more days like today’s and Thursday’s, but this month in general may be a touch above average.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 8, 2017

Weather Whiplash

Feb. 7, 2017: Buckle up, folks!

Temperatures this week go from the 50’s to the 20’s then back up to the 40’s. Wow. Between Monday (the 6th) and Thursday (the 9th), highs will have dropped 30°+, then recover to be up 20°+ between Thursday and Friday. That is a very impressive temperature swing over the course of only 5 days.

The jet stream looks like a whip, or a roller coaster, both of which are good comparisons to our temperature changes. The polar jet stream is essentially the boundary between warmer air from near the equator and colder air from near the poles. As the jet stream moves north or south, temperatures respond accordingly. When we have a week like this one where the jet is moving back and forth from north to south, we get some interesting temperature changes.

On Monday, the jet stream was arching well to the north, drawing in the very warm air and nearly setting a record.

Then, a plunge south in the jet helps much colder air spill into the region. We’ll have chilly conditions through Thursday.

Back to the north goes the jet stream, allowing milder air from the south to advance north. In comes highs back in the 40’s for Friday and the weekend.

There aren’t many changes for precipitation during these wild temperature changes. Snow looks to miss us for Wednesday, then we likely won’t see any wet weather until Sunday, when temperatures are warm enough for rain instead of snow.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 7, 2017

Wild start to February

Feb. 3, 2017: Conditions may be cold now, but that won’t be the case very soon. Temperatures will start dancing up and down over the next week.

Starting this weekend, we’ll be on the upswing, eventually jumping above freezing for a few days. A weather system coming in from the Pacific Northwest provides a glancing blow of flurries, blustery winds, plenty of clouds, yet warmer weather this weekend. Temps continue to jump upward and into the 40’s for early next week, putting us about 10 degrees above average for this time of year, and making conditions warm enough for rain instead of snow!

We’ll go right back again to cold weather by the middle of next week. Temperatures may be as low at 10 degrees below average by the end of next week, which would be a 20 degree swing in a day or two. The drop sets us up for a little snow as well in the middle of the week.

These large temperature swings aren’t out of the ordinary, and definitely keeps the weather interesting! Looking well ahead, long-range forecasts show more of this up-and-down weather this month, so temperature swings will be something to get used to.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 3, 2017