Tumultuous Temperatures

Oct. 17, 2016: Summer’s back (for a day)! With a little help from strong southerly to southwesterly winds (both at the jet stream level and at the ground level), we saw temperatures soar into the middle 80’s this afternoon. Adding to the summer feel was a touch of humidity with dew points in the 60’s. Overall, a weather pattern that resembled something we see more often in August rather than October gave us a quick step back in seasons.

1st of fall OR NOT

This isn’t unheard of, of course. On average, we usually see a day one last day in the 80’s around October 7th. The latest on record was November 1st, 1933, when temperatures were a whopping 25° above average, setting a record for that day, as well as the record for latest 80° in Rockford.

october warmth

Today’s weather has been part of an impressive warming trend since the weekend. We are on a streak of 3 days in a row above 70°, and that should carry on into Tuesday. After that, we start going back toward fall weather.

cooling off

We’ll be stepping down gradually as a series of cold fronts move though. By Friday, we’ll be at least 25° than where we were today. We’ll be dropping 10° at least each time a cold front moves through (tonight and Wednesday night).

Will this be the end of the 80’s for the year? It looks that way, at least right now. The odds are against us for getting an 80° past this date anyway, plus there aren’t any persistent signals in several longer range models that show anything this warm for the rest of the month or into early November. We will likely remain above average for a while, so the occasional 70° day may pop up, but I think the 80’s may be gone again until next spring.




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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 17, 2016

It’s been a while…

Oct. 10, 2016: If you stepped outside today and thought, “Wow. It feels like forever since it’s been this cold”, you weren’t that far off.

1st of fall

We haven’t had a day below 60° for a high since May. 151 days ago, in fact. That’s a solid 5 months of warm weather! Rockford got close to breaking the streak a few weeks ago, but we’ve held on until today.

With that in mind, I took a look at the next few streaks that are still alive: our last 30° and 40° days. One note: we won’t see weather this cold anytime soon! However, about a month from now, our average highs are in the upper 40’s, so it won’t be long. For now, we’ll see some warmer days.

notable streaks

Overall, it’s been at least 6 months since we’ve seen either of these days. We have to go back to March 24 and April 9, respectively, for the 30’s and 40’s. Over half the year has gone by since those chilly days, and we’ll likely not see chilly weather like that for hopefully another month. It’s neat to see how long we avoid those temperatures, however!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 13, 2016

Frosty Fall Weather

Oct. 12, 2016: We are starting to get into that time of year where nights in the 30’s pop back up again. We had one already this fall; we’ll get a few more after a huge tumble in temperatures (upper 70’s to upper 50’s within 2 days).

Frost Advisories for Thursday, October 13, 2016

Frost Advisories for Thursday, October 13, 2016

Frost Advisories have been posted for much of the Stateline, and will likely get posted again Thursday night. What do you have to worry about? While we won’t see widespread freezing weather yet, frosty can damage sensitive plants, like things you may grow in the garden. Cover them up with a breathable material overnight, then take that cover off in the morning as temperatures warm. Covering up your garden helps keep escaping heat from the cooling ground near the plants, which will keep the air around the plants just warm enough to keep frost away.  Better yet, if you can move the plant inside, do so until morning!


There is a difference between a little frost and a killing freeze. Frosty will harm plants, but won’t necessarily kill them, leaving the growing season going. Our first freeze of the fall will end the growing season as the conditions kill off the growing vegetation. We haven’t seen it yet, and likely won’t this week at least in Rockford, but we’ll be close, meaning a few frosty nights are ahead.

first freeze

We usually see our first killing freeze around this time of the year. We have passed the average date, but aren’t looking to set any records yet. Our latest fall freeze on record in Rockford didn’t occur until November! It’s been a warm fall so far, but we’ll see how long the warmth holds on and keep the freeze at bay.

first frost

Most of southern Wisconsin and all of Illinois and Iowa haven’t had the first freeze of the fall yet, so we have some company. The deeper we get into fall, the more chances we’ll have, though!



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 12, 2016

Stuck in the rinse cycle

Sep. 30, 2016: The weather has gloomy for a couple days this week, and now we get one more of those days for October 1st (with effects possibly lingering into October 2nd). Why? We have a pesky area of low pressure to thank.

The low waltzed into the region on Wednesday, bringing us brisk, windy, and drizzly weather. The low then got stuck over Ohio, and now is wobbling backward toward the Stateline, providing drizzly weather for Friday and Saturday, with a few showers mixed in for good measure.

cut off low

How did it get stuck? We call this weather pattern a “cut-off low”, because the low got “cut off” from the main flow across the U.S. Without the jet stream pushing this low along, it simply spins its gears until the jet stream is able to sweep it up again.

As a result, we get stuck with a consistently cloudy, soggy, and cool weather pattern (as long as we are under the low). Elsewhere, the weather stays nice.

WREX2 (2)


Interesting fact that was observed this week, and at times pops up with these cut-off patterns: we had rain and clouds coming in from the east to northeast. We usually don’t see our rain come in from that direction! This is due to the air flow around an area of low pressure. It’s always flowing in a counterclockwise direction. Normally weather systems flow from west to east around us, but if we get something like this where the low is able to move “backward” and to the west, we get showers flowing in from an unusual direction.

The low gets slowly kicked out on Sunday, allowing drier and warmer weather to spill in for next week.



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 30, 2016

Welcome to Fall! (Wait, what season is it?)

Sep. 21, 2016: Autumn 2016 officially kicks off Thursday at 9:21 AM!

Tomorrow’s weather, however, is a good reminder that the season outside usually has trouble lining up with the season the calendar.

1st of fall

The “official” start to fall occurs during the autumnal equinox, or when the Earth is lined up straight up and down on its axis. Night and day are roughly equal, and we are at the halfway point between the solstices (the longest and shortest day of the year). That point occurs at 9:21 am this year. Because of the way light bends through our atmosphere, sunrise and sunset don’t line up exactly on this date, but within a day or two we’ll see them as close as possible before we slip under the 12 hour mark for daylight and night becomes longer than day.

1st of fall OR NOT

As you can see, we usually still have highs in the low 70’s, with some brisk nights flirting with the 40’s. At least this time around, it will still feel like summer outside. Highs should be about 10 degrees above average, and conditions will feel even warmer than that with the humidity. We can even see days in the low 90’s, if we get the right setup to set a record, like the one for Thursday set in 1937.

Cold Blast 2

So, what gives? Where did fall go? We are in the midst of a weather pattern that we typically see more during the summer months. The jet stream is arching well into Canada, allowing very warm and definitely humid air to flood the region. Right along the boundary of the warm, humid air mass are rounds of thunderstorms, which we saw plenty of today, and our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin will see plenty more of those (flash flooding will plague the area, due to all of the storms and rain they’ll get through the end of the week).

AC forecast

Starting this weekend, this pattern does break down, allowing the heat and humidity to relax a little this weekend. By next week, we’ll be getting our first good does of fall air, as there potentially may be some days in the 60’s coming soon. Hold on for now; the A/C doesn’t have to be on for too much longer!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 21, 2016

Not done with the 80’s yet

September 15, 2016: As the days grow shorter and cooler air appears more regularly, those summer-like days start to get few and far in between. No need to fret yet; we can see the 80’s for a while into the fall! In fact, Rockford snuck up to 80° this afternoon.

last of the 80s

On average, we see our last day in the 80’s around October 2nd. Some years, like last year, the 80’s linger well into the middle of the month. In 2007, one of our latest 80 degree days was felt on October 21st!

We usually see around 10 days in the 80’s during an average September, or about 1/3 of the month; right now, we are sitting at 8 days, with a few more in the forecast.



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 15, 2016

Losing Daylight

September 14, 2016: You may have noticed the days getting a lot shorter lately, which is a clear sign that fall is almost here. The autumnal equinox (our “official” start of fall) is next Thursday, the 22nd. That’s when the Earth is roughly straight up and down on its axis, giving us nearly equal hours of daytime and nighttime. The tilt of the Earth is also why we’re getting shorter days; the sun is lower on the horizon, reducing the amount of time it’s “up” in the sky.

losing daylight 1

The closer we get to this date, the quicker we end up losing daylight. We’ve seen our amount of daytime shrink by about 3 minutes a day since the start of the month. It may not sound like much, but over the course of 10 days, we lose a good 30 minutes of daylight, with another 30 minutes gone by the beginning of Autumn. That’s 1 hour of daytime gone in about 3 weeks!

losing daylight 2

In total, we’ve lost nearly 3 hours of daylight from the start of summer (approximately the longest day of the year) until now. I know this isn’t fun to think about, but we’ll keep losing daylight until the start of winter. By then, sunrise will be at 7:22 am on December 21, with sunset at 4:27 pm. We’ll lose another 3 hours of daylight before we reverse course and the days slowly get longer.



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 14, 2016

Heat Wave Over

July 25, 2016: Ahhh…that’s a little better! After 4 sweltering days, the temperature and humidity dipped down to what we usually see this time of year, giving us some relief from the very muggy weather.



The humidity was the big difference in how it felt outside during the latest heat wave. While temperatures in the middle 90’s aren’t unheard of, pairing that with the almost tropical humidity added about 15° onto the heat index, pushing us to “feel’s like” conditions in the 100’s nearly every day during the latest hot spell.

The high humidity also helped fuel very heavy and intense rainfall at times, giving many spots 2″ to 4″ of rain over the last four days. Rockford usually only sees just under 4″ of rain for the MONTH, so getting a half to full month’s worth of rain in a few hours leads to plenty of headaches, like flash flooding.

Billboard 4

The dew point temperature (which shows an accurate measurement of how humid the atmosphere is) topped 78° several times, and at one point reached the low 80’s on Sunday. We rarely see dew points that high. In fact, over the last 46 years, we’ve only had dew points measure at or above 78° one quarter of one percent of the time! Wow! It was definitely “air you can wear” this weekend!

Extended Forecast PM NEW

Thankfully, for those who don’t like dealing with the excessive heat and extreme humidity, we have some relief this week. Dew points should stay below 70° (which is a lot more comfortable), and temperatures stay below 90° as well. In fact, late this week, the forecast call for conditions barely to 80° this weekend, which is a far cry from the hot and very muggy weather we’ve had lately!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on July 25, 2016

Heat Safety

July 20, 2016: With the intense heat coming Thursday and Friday, make sure you are taking care of yourself. We all know it gets hot in the summer and you have ways of dealing with the hot weather, but do be careful when conditions get this intense.

Combined, the hot air and high humidity will feel like the 100’s for much of Thursday and Friday afternoon. Here’s how you can help your body through the intense conditions:

Billboard 3

  • If you need to be outside, exercise or do hard work in the early morning or evening. These time periods avoid the heat of the day, and are a little cooler.
  • If you need to work outside, take frequent breaks, stay out of the direct sunlight as much as possible, and find a shady spot to cool off.
  • Drink lots of water! Sports drinks may help, but are also full of sugar, which isn’t the greatest for the body. Water is best.
  • Spend as much time in a cool, air conditioned place as you can. Your body gets pretty stressed fighting off the intense heat, so give is as much of a break as you can by getting into air conditioning.
  • Wear light colored, loose clothing.
  • Never leave your kids or your pets in a vehicle, even for a minute, even if the windows are rolled down. Temperatures can heat up very rapidly in a vehicle, turning the vehicle into an oven in only a handful of minutes.
  • Find a cool spot with plenty of water for your pets. Leave them inside in the air conditioning as much as possible.
  • Be careful with playground equipment and the pavement. Surfaces like the slide or the sidewalk can be very hot, and sometime burn either your kids or your dog’s paws (dogs sweat through their paws, so walk them early or late, when the pavement is cool).

Finally, know the signs of heat illnesses:


  • Heat injuries start with heat cramps, so if you start cramping up in the heat, get inside and cool off.
  • Heat exhaustion is the next step as the body starts failing to cool off. You’ll feel very sweaty, and possibly dizzy, nauseous, and possibly starting fainting. Cramps may continue, vomiting is possible, and your skin will be pale and clammy. As before, get inside in the air conditioning, drink plenty of water, and maybe jump into a cool shower if you feel these symptoms. Heat exhaustion can lead to heat stroke if untreated.


  • Heat stroke is a medical emergency. As with the other heat illnesses, your body isn’t able to cool off, but by this point your body temperature has reached 103° or higher. Your body can’t cool off, and will begin shutting down, with possibly organ failure or death! Symptoms of heat stroke are: no sweating, rapid pulse, fainting, pounding headache, rapid or racing pulse, and red, dry skin.  Call 9-1-1, and try to cool off as quickly as possible as you are waiting for help.

Call your doctor if you start experiencing these symptoms after being out in the heat for a while, and if you have any questions. Stay safe, and stay cool tomorrow!





Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on July 20, 2016

Bring on the heat!

July 18, 2016: We have a few days to get ready, but very hot weather is on the way!

In fact, the National Weather Service has already issued an Excessive Heat Watch, highlighting where and when the potentially dangerous heat will be striking this week.

Excessive Heat Watch for Thursday to Friday

Excessive Heat Watch for Thursday to Friday

Why is this heat considered harmful? Long story short, your body has a very tough time cooling off in these conditions, leading to heat stroke or heat exhaustion. These are very serious medical conditions that can lead to death. When the weather is this hot and this humid for a couple days in a row, you need to find a way to give your body a break from the heat, or heat stroke or exhaustion can set in quickly.

Have a cool place to go, preferably in air conditioning, and especially during the heat of the day (late morning to early evening). If you have to be outside, take plenty of breaks in a cool or shaded location, and drink lots and lots of water.

Why is this happening? By Thursday, a “heat dome” is setting up, meaning a massive area of high pressure is setting up in the upper levels of the atmosphere. Under high pressure, air sinks and warms up as it does so, leading to those hot temperatures. 90’s to 100’s will be in the forecast for much of the nation while under this dome of high pressure.

"Heat dome" sets up from Thursday into the weekend

“Heat dome” sets up from Thursday into the weekend

Factor in the humidity, and the heat index (“feel’s like conditions”) will be near 110° for a couple days. Find a way to stay cool!



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on July 18, 2016