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.

HEAT WAVE RECAP

 

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!

-Alex

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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 EXHAUSTION

  • 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

  • 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!

-Alex

 

 

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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!

-Alex

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

Severe Weather Outlook: July 7th

The threat for severe weather this afternoon/evening still remains, but it has diminished a bit. The new SPC Severe Outlook has shifted the “Enhanced Risk” far to the south and west of our area. The Stateline is now in the “Slight Risk” region for severe storms.

outlook2

This forecast has been very challenging due to models not only disagreeing with each other, but also disagreeing with themselves. Each separate model run has been different throughout the past 24 hours. I’ll use the NAM 4KM model for an example. This picture below is from the 06z model run that shows a very large system moving through later tonight.

nam 4km 0z run

Now, newer model runs came out earlier this morning, and the guidance was much different for storm activity at this time. The NAM 4kM is now suggesting this storm develops well off to the southwest of the Stateline near the Iowa and Missouri border.

4km new run

That’s a big difference between model runs. What’s more frustrating is this model I am pointing out has actually been the most consistent with handling the complex storm development expected later this evening.

Not only have the long range models been struggling, but so have short range models. We use short range models to forecast for 2-8 hours out. For 11:30 AM this morning Futuretrack (which I had displaying the guidance from a short range model) was showing strong thunderstorm develop near the Quad Cities heading NE.

futuretrack

The problem is that isn’t what was happening real-time at 11:30 AM.

radar 1130

In real time light to moderate showers where moving through the Stateline. Models have made this forecast very challenging with the indecisiveness of timing and location of storms. threattracker

The threat for severe weather still remains for this afternoon/evening though, but storms are expected to be much weaker than previously expected. Main threats will be heavy rain and strong winds. Location/timing for development of storms later this after and evening is still a little messy and is something will monitor.

– Nick

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on July 7, 2016

Another cool day, but hot, muggy weather is back very soon…

July 1, 2016: Happy Friday! We are now half way through the year! There are 183 days left to 2016.

We likely won’t be seeing cool temperatures for much longer, since the weather heats up in a big way going into next week. We get rid of the cool northwest air flow in the jet, and see southwesterly jet stream winds return.

Jet stream pattern next week

Jet stream pattern next week

The jet stream also retreats well off to the north and ridges, allowing a lot of hot, humid air back into the Midwest. We’ll likely see highs in the 90’s for a few days, with the heat index near 100. Whew!

July outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

July outlook from the Climate Prediction Center

On top of all that, the latest prediction for the month of July as a whole shows above average weather likely to stick around, and not just here, but from coast to coast across the Lower 48.  We may be seeing a lot of hot days in the near future, so soak up the cooler weather while it’s here!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on July 1, 2016

Uh, Summer? Where’d you go?

June 28, 2016: Talk about a temperature swing- Sunday was in the 90’s (10° above average), then today was only in the mid 70’s (10° below average) in Rockford. Some locations didn’t even get out of the 60’s!

Afternoon temperatures for June 28, 2016

Afternoon temperatures for June 28, 2016

Why such a difference? A simple dip in the jet stream ushered in much cooler air from Canada, providing a little “free A/C” and giving us a break from the hot conditions from the past weekend.

Northwest jet stream winds are directing cooler air into the region this week.

Northwest jet stream winds are directing cooler air into the region this week.

The cool-down was significant enough that we almost broke a nearly 60-year-old record. The coolest high temperature for June 28 was set in 1959 at 75°. The high in Rockford this afternoon did manage to warm back to 75°, which ultimately tied today’s record.

Billboard 4

We’ll get the 80’s back tomorrow as the winds in the jet stream turn a little more out of the southwest, but another kink in the jet pushes cooler air right back into the region for the end of the week.

Another cold front keeps us in the 70's later this week.

Another cold front keeps us in the 70’s later this week.

The cooler pattern will change in time by Independence Day as highs return to average, then we could see another burst of heat close to the 90’s (or into the 90’s) by the end of next week.

Enjoy the cooler weather while it lasts!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 28, 2016

Tornado wrap-up

June 23, 2016: Now that the National Weather Service has had time to analyze the damage left over from last night’s tornadoes, here are the findings:

In total, eleven tornadoes struck northern Illinois, with a lot of them clustered between I-88 and I-80. The majority were also EF-1’s, which feature wind speeds around 100 mph.

June 22 Illinois Tornadoes

Click on image to zoom in.

The tornado closest to home for all of us was in Lee County, striking near West Brooklyn. The tornado was on the ground for a little over 2 miles, and was 300 yards wide. With winds over 100 mph, this tornado was rated as an EF-1.

Click on image to zoom in.

Click on image to zoom in.

The ingredients for very strong thunderstorms and tornadoes were definitely there last night.  The warm front basically determined the location of all these nasty storms. Once we put the warm front on the map, you can see how the tornadoes (and the supercells that spawned them) basically rode or followed the warm front into central Illinois.

Click on image to zoom in.

Click on image to zoom in.

Since the atmosphere was so explosive, we were hoping the warm front didn’t make it too far north, since it would focus the intense severe weather across our area instead of mostly south of us.

Looking ahead, thunderstorms are looking possible Saturday night into Sunday, but severe weather isn’t likely right now. We’ll keep you update, as always, if we do see anything concerning!

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 23, 2016

Updated thoughts on Wednesday’s severe weather threat

June 21, 2016: Here’s a few quick thoughts on tomorrow’s severe weather threat, as new information keeps coming in.

First, remember, the situation is still fluid. How the afternoon round of significant severe weather plays out will partly be determined by what the morning storms do. Those morning storms will take some of the energy and instability out of the atmosphere, so we have to wait and see where the atmosphere recharges the best. The later the storms stick around, the lower the severe weather risk.

At this point, I think a lot of the morning activity should be out by 9 AM, which does give us plenty of time to recharge the atmosphere. That isn’t good news for us hoping to avoid severe weather in the afternoon. Some potential good news is the severe weather risk for the morning hours seems to be going down.

severe setup 2

The overnight and morning storms will push on the incoming warm front, and it looks like the front will be slowing down some and staying in southern Iowa and Illinois. This means the worst of the morning weather is drifting to the south in the latest model runs.

THREAT TRACK INDEX

We’ll likely still get some showers, and possibly some heavy rain, but the threat for high winds and large hail is going down right now. The picture is getting clearer because the storms are starting to sprout up tonight, plus some of the high-resolution short-term models are catching up to the hours we are most curious about, giving us a better picture over the next 12 hours or so.

severe setup 3

As for the afternoon round, the morning storms may help keep the warm front away and keep the instability down for us, which helps limit the severe weather threat for certain areas. However, we can’t rule out explosive storm development yet. Those morning storms won’t keep the front away forever. For now, the risk area could shift to the south and west, away from Rockford but more toward Dixon and Genoa.

THREAT TRACK INDEX 2

Also, strong storms may arrive later in the evening Rockford and areas to the north, during the middle of the evening, rather than the late afternoon.

WREX2

Even if the severe weather risk starts to move away from certain areas, remember that we are still under a Flash Flood Watch. The air around the Stateline will be flooded with very humid air, so any storms that pop up will be major soakers. We still could be torrential rainfall with 2″/hour for rainfall rates.

alex headlines

Remember to review your severe weather plan, and stay weather aware tomorrow. While the morning threats may be diminishing, the afternoon round could still be explosive. Stay with the 13 Weather Authority for updates both on-air and online at www.wrex.com/weather.

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

Two Potential Rounds of Severe Weather

Two rounds of severe weather are possible on Wednesday, exactly 1 year after the tornado that swept through Sublette and the Woodhaven Lakes area.

My first note will be to say that the timing and specifics are subject to change, as we get closer to the overnight hours of Tuesday into Wednesday.

6-21-16 outlook 1
Let’s start with Wednesday morning:

An hour or two before sunrise we’ll start to see thunderstorms enter northern Illinois, and they’ll persist through the late morning hours. An organized cluster of thunderstorms that lasts for hours will bring us heavy rain with possible flooding. There’s a risk for large hail, followed by a low threat for strong and damaging wind gusts, with these morning thunderstorms.
The thought now is that those thunderstorms will push out by around 10:00AM or 11:00AM. The earlier those end, the higher the threat for a severe afternoon/evening.

Here’s why: The atmosphere will be destabilized (ripe and juicy) during this time to allow those AM thunderstorms to pop up. A large, long-lasting, cluster of thunderstorms will likely “use” much or all of that instability (juice). Once the thunderstorms end, the atmosphere can start recharging (heating back up, destabilizing) which will give some juice to evening thunderstorms. The later those morning thunderstorms last, the less time the atmosphere has to recharge, meaning the less juice available for the next round of storms.

6-21-16 outlook 2

More on Wednesday mid-afternoon through evening: A warm front should lift northward sometime in the early afternoon on Wednesday. South of that warm front, will be a warm and humid airmass (dewpoints near 70 degrees) that will be unstable. In addition to an unstable airmass, strong winds high up in the atmosphere will be exceptionally high, giving the air a better ability to spin.
*IF* we get thunderstorms to fire up in the mid-afternoon through evening, the chance of those turning severe is likely.
Time frame for the afternoon/evening round of storms is pretty wide, with the expectation to narrow it after seeing how Wednesday morning storms affect our atmosphere. Right now, be weather aware again between 3PM-8PM, with a bigger emphasis on the second half of that time frame. Thunderstorms would move east-southeastward into the Chicagoland area after that. All threats are possible with this. Large hail, a few tornadoes, and damaging wind gusts.

6-21-16 when what

Overall here’s an important note: What happens in the morning will play a very big role on what happens in the mid afternoon/evening.

There’s plenty of time to prepare instead of panic. Put fresh batteries in the weather radio, practice your safety plan, and stick with the 13 Weather Authority.

 

– Meteorologist Morgan Kolkmeyer

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This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on June 21, 2016

Strong to severe storms possible Wednesday

June 20, 2016: Happy (official) first day of Summer! We’ve reached the Summer Solstice, or when the Northern Hemisphere is tilted at its maximum toward the Sun.  We get the most direct sunlight on this day, giving us one of the longest days of the year, plus plenty of daytime heating during the summer to provide us with hot weather. The Northern Hemisphere tilts away from the Sun from now through late December, shortening the days and eventually bringing in Fall and Winter.

High temperatures for June 20, 2016

High temperatures for June 20, 2016

It was also fitting that we had the warmest day of 2016 so far in Rockford with a high of 93°!

Now, onto the topic at hand- severe weather, and possibly several rounds of it, are possible Tuesday night through Wednesday evening.  All of the heat and humidity that is leaving the area comes roaring back by Tuesday night, triggering a complex of thunderstorms similar to last Tuesday night.

Severe weather setup for Wednesday morning. A complex (or massive group) of t-storms will erupt overnight, then follow the warm front into the area early Wednesday morning.

Severe weather setup for Wednesday morning. A complex (or massive group) of t-storms will erupt overnight, then follow the warm front into the area early Wednesday morning.

We’ll see those race into the area early Wednesday morning. Strong winds and large hail would be the primary severe threat, with heavy rain possible due to the increasing humidity.

After that, the picture gets much more murky.  Once the morning storms leave, the atmosphere recharges in a big way as heat and humidity continue to surge into the region. We’ll have plenty of warm and very humid air to work with, plus a strong area of low pressure and a warm front will be a lot closer to help trigger storms.

Severe weather setup for Wednesday afternoon. A 2nd round of severe weather is possible, and could be significant with the hot and humid air surging in. However, placement of fronts and boundaries after the early morning storms makes the afternoon placement of storms difficult to predict at this time.

Severe weather setup for Wednesday afternoon. A 2nd round of severe weather is possible, and could be significant with the hot and humid air surging in. However, placement of fronts and boundaries after the early morning storms makes the afternoon placement of storms difficult to predict at this time.

The big question is this: will the low and warm front line up in the right spot to maximize the atmosphere over us and bring severe weather? The overnight to early morning storm complexes, like we’ll see Wednesday morning, tend to leave behind pockets of cool air. Storms may fire up Wednesday afternoon along these pockets, so where will those be placed? It’s hard to say as we are still 48 hours out.  The potential for a second round of severe weather is there; we just need to see where the pieces fall into place.

Possible severe threats for Wednesday afternoon.

Possible severe threats for Wednesday afternoon.

POTENTIAL rainfall for Wednesday. Subject to change.

One model’s thoughts on POTENTIAL rainfall for Wednesday. Subject to change.

If and when we do get severe weather Wednesday afternoon, those storms may be significantly stronger. Tornadoes are possible early in the storms, then large hail and damaging winds may be widespread after that. We’ll also have to watch out for flash flooding. The atmosphere will be very humid, so torrential rain is possible, especially along the fronts.

For right now, expect a quiet Tuesday, then plan for strong thunderstorms on Wednesday. Have your weather radio and other alert devices ready to go. We’ll keep analyzing the situation as new data comes in, and keep you updated leading up to Wednesday morning AND Wednesday afternoon.

-Alex

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