It’s Cold, but is it Record Breaking Cold?

February 19, 2015: The Stateline is no stranger to wicked cold winter temperatures, and dangerously cold morning wind chills. We’re used to layering up, warming our cars, and heading out into the bitter cold. This morning was another day to add to the list of uncomfortably cold mornings with hazardous wind chills. But could this one be one for the record books?

Turns out, it might be TWO for the record books.

Potential record number 1:
If Rockford’s high temperature stays in the single digits today, a 79 year old record will be broken. February 15-18, 1936 holds the record for Rockford’s latest consecutive days of single digit temperatures. Yesterday, Rockford hit a high temperature of 8°. If we combine yesterday with today’s forecast of single digit high temperatures, we’ve got ourselves a record of the latest occurrence of 2 or more consecutive single digit high temperatures.

2-19-15 recordbreakingcold2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Potential record number 2:

If Rockford’s high temperature only climbs to 6° or less, a 56 year record will be broken. On February 19th, 1959 Rockford only reached a high temperature of 7°, which is still the coldest for this date on ever recorded.

2-19-15 recordbreakingcold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’re so lucky, right?

-Morgan Kolkmeyer

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Posted under cold blast, history, record weather, statistics, weather, weather geek, winter weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on February 19, 2015

Disappearing Snow

February 11, 2015: Last Friday, the official snow depth for Rockford (measured at the Rockford airport) was measured at 12″.  Heading into today, the depth is down to half that value.

The temperature and snow depth trend from February 6th to the 10th.

The temperature and snow depth trend from February 6th to the 10th.

The above freezing temperatures over the weekend went a long way to melt off some of the snow. That is the primary reason for losing plenty of snow pack. The difference between this weekend’s melting and ones previous this winter is the added influence of a higher sun angle and the increase in daylight.  This is why we were able to melt 6″  of snow in roughly 3 days rather than taking more time than that.

Changing the sun's angle to the ground changes the intensity of the sun's energy on the ground.

Changing the sun’s angle to the ground changes the intensity of the sun’s energy on the ground.

In the heart of the winter, the sun is low on the horizon, so the sun’s energy is coming in at an angle, and isn’t all that intense. The daytime hours are also very short, so there isn’t much time to provide a lot of energy.

Now, the sun is higher in the sky, so the sun’s energy is more directed at the ground rather than at an angle to the side. Because the energy is more directed at the ground, the energy can be more intense, helping heat the ground or snow up quicker. The longer days means more energy being put into the atmosphere.

-Alex

 

 

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Posted under science, snow, weather, winter weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 11, 2015

Will we lose a lot of snow this weekend?

February 6th, 2015: We are now almost a week removed from last weekend’s blizzard, and the snow depth remained unchanged this week, with much of the ground around the Stateline covered by a foot of snow. With the prospect of above freezing temperatures this weekend, will the snow depth change dramatically?

Earlier this winter, we had a string of snowy days that amount to a snow depth of 6″ by mid-January. A streak of milder weather set in at that point, and between the mild temperatures and at least partial sunshine, we were able to melt off all of the snow within about a week.

The change in snow depth from earlier this winter. The top portion shows the high temperature each day plus the average amount of cloud cover, with the bottom columns showing the snow depth at the end of each day.

The change in snow depth from earlier this winter. The top portion shows the high temperature each day plus the average amount of cloud cover, with the bottom columns showing the snow depth at the end of each day.

This graphic illustrates that there is a decent amount of energy that has to go into our environment to melt off that amount of snow. We lost an inch of snow per day between the 15th and the 19th, but that was because we had temperatures above freezing each afternoon plus some sunshine each day, and it still took 5 days to melt off all of the snow.

In our current case, we have double the amount of snow, and the forecast in the sunshine department doesn’t look too promising.  We should be able to see our snow depth numbers go down a little over the weekend, but it will take a good stretch of mild day coupled with sunshine, like earlier this winter, before it all goes away.

-Alex

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Posted under snow, weather, winter weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 6, 2015

Blizzard Warning

February 1st, 2015: Blizzard warnings have been issued by the National Weather Service, and will last until midnight.  Dangerous whiteout conditions will make travel impossible at times, so only venture out if absolutely necessary.

Now that we have a blizzard in the Stateline, what does that mean exactly? Besides the obvious of heavy snow showers and high winds, here is the criteria used by the National Weather Service for when they issue their warnings:

Blizzard criteria from the National Weather Service

Blizzard criteria from the National Weather Service

Heavy snow showers or considerable blowing snow, strong wind gusts, and greatly reduced visibility all need to add up to issue a blizzard warning. Not only that, but these conditions need to last or be in the forecast for at least 3 hours.  This means that you don’t necessarily need it to be snowing to have a blizzard; ‘ground blizzards’ can occur when fresh snowpack is blown around for 3 hours or more, keeping visibility down.

Overall, blizzards are strong snow storms that make it impossible to see if you are out on the roads.  Please only travel if it is absolutely necessary.  You can stay up-to-date with www.wrex.com/weather for the latest on this winter storm.

-Alex

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Posted under snow, Wind, winter storm, winter weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 1, 2015

Say It Ain’t Snow!

All eyes have been on a system approaching this weekend that’s set to bring us measurable snowfall.

The timing of this system seems to be pretty consistent among forecasting models. Snow should start moving into the Stateline on Saturday evening, and  continue to give us snow throughout Sunday morning, afternoon, and even through the evening. However, by the time we head into Sunday evening, we’re talkin’ light snow. Which leads me to the next point- when are we talking the heaviest snow? Starting at 12AM Sunday (midnight Saturday) and lasting through lunch on Sunday is when we’ll see the heaviest snowfall across the Stateline.

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We won’t be seeing the heaviest snowfall out of the system. The bulk of the precipitation stays to our south, keeping us out of the “bullseye.” But don’t put the shovels away just yet! I’m anticipating 2-4″ of snow to fall across the Stateline, with places along I-88 to fall on the higher end of that spectrum. We cool down to the single digits overnight on Sunday, making way for icy conditions on your Monday commute.

1-30-15 expect

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stick with us throughout this evening and through the weekend as we continue to track this system!

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Posted under cold blast, First Look, ice, weather, winter storm, winter weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on January 30, 2015

National Weather Service’s Winter Outlook (2014)

The National Weather Service issued their forecast for the upcoming winter season today.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Temperature outlook for Winter 2014

Temperature outlook for Winter 2014

The 2014-2015 outlook has chances for warmer weather on the West Coast and the northern sections of the U.S., with colder than average temperatures in the South.

Precipitation outlook for Winter 2014

Precipitation outlook for Winter 2014

The weather pattern looks to be drier than average along the Great Lakes and Pacific Northwest, with the South and East Coast looking wetter than average.

Midwest temperature outlook, Winter 2014/2015

Midwest temperature outlook, Winter 2014/2015

Midwest precipitation outlook, Winter 2014/2015

Midwest precipitation outlook, Winter 2014/2015

For the Stateline specifically, we have a good chance for below average precipitation (snowfall) this winter, with equal chances for above or below average temperatures, according to the National Weather Service.  That means there isn’t a strong indicator one way or the other right now for a warmer or colder winter for the Midwest.

A couple things to keep in mind:

-These are probabilities for above/below temperature/precipitation, not definites.  For example, the prediction for below average precipitation for the Midwest means that more likely than not we will have less than usual snowfall, however there still may be a chance that snowfall will be above average.

-Remember that this is a prediction for the whole season- there are plenty of smaller or short term weather patterns that can occur that will throw the prediction off, and because they are smaller in scale or time, they cannot be factored in yet.  For example, remember this pattern from last winter?

This is a Greenland Block pattern, when high pressure near Greenland "clogs up" the weather pattern, keeping very cold air diving down into the center of the U.S.

This is a Greenland Block pattern, when high pressure near Greenland “clogs up” the weather pattern, keeping very cold air diving down into the center of the U.S.

Short term patterns like the Greenland Block can change up the weather for a few days to weeks, and may affect or contradict the overall prediction for the season.

-As mentioned above, this is an overall look at the winter season.  It won’t provide any specifics, like if or when a blizzard may hit, how many snow storms may occur, or how cold it will be on some random date, like January 15.

-It would be really nice to have a clear picture, but forecasters are limited some this year by a lack of strong climate indicators.  For example, a weak El Nino pattern has been struggling to form.  When it finally does form, weak El Ninos are generally harder to deal with because their impacts are not as clear cut as a strong El Nino.  By the way, El Ninos usually bring wet weather for all of the southern U.S., so if you aren’t a fan of snow, keep rooting for El Nino to keep the wet weather to the south of us!

So let’s revisit this some time in March or so, after winter is over, and see how the National Weather Service’s prediction played out.  A few things are guaranteed for this upcoming winter: it is coming, it will be cold, and there will be some snow. ;)

-Alex

 

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, weather, winter weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 16, 2014

Another Round of Light Snow

After 50 degree temperatures and plenty of melting snow on Friday, a fresh layer of the white stuff will blanket the Stateline by Sunday morning. Clouds will thicken up throughout the day Saturday as highs reach 40 degrees. Light snow will develop by the evening hours, possibly mixing with a few raindrops along the I-88 corridor of northern Illinois.

FutureTrack: Saturday Night

FutureTrack: Saturday Night

Light snow will continue Saturday night and eventually taper off in the early morning hours of Sunday. Snowfall totals will be light. Ground and air temperatures will help melt some of the falling snow initially, but as the night wears on our temperatures will fall into the upper teens. Snow will begin to accumulate, although it looks like just an inch will coat the ground. An inch and a half is possible for our far western counties.

Around 1"

Around 1″

After a little early morning snow on Sunday, temperatures will be lucky to reach 30 degrees with a gusty northwest wind. Our wind chill will be in the single digits!

Spring….what’s that!?

-Joe

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Posted under FutureTrack, snow, weather, winter weather

This post was written by qni_it on March 14, 2014

We Did it Again!

For the second time this week we have made it to the 50 degree mark! Enjoy the afternoon because the rest of this weekend will be on the cooler side. UntitledTwo cold fronts are headed out way, the first will knock us into the 40s tomorrow and the second will drop us into the 30s. Believe it or not, even though we are in tshirts today, we could need the shovels by Sunday morning. Our second cold front has the potential to bring us a dusting to and inch or two of snow Saturday night into Sunday. – Greg

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Posted under heat wave, winter weather

This post was written by qni_it on March 14, 2014

10° Temperature Swings

Winter and spring continue to duke it out as we head into this weekend. High temperatures Friday take us back up near 50 degrees, only to be shortchanged thanks to two incoming cold fronts. The first cold front drops our highs back near 40 degrees on Saturday, and the second takes us down to 30 degrees on Sunday. – Greg Capture2Untitled

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Posted under winter weather

This post was written by qni_it on March 13, 2014

Morning Rush

Our snow system had the models all worked up last night and early this morning, but things have settled down and we are back to expecting just a few inches here across the Stateline. The timing puts the snow overnight into tomorrow morning. So, of course, our morning commute could suffer. Even minimal snow accumulation could make for a slippery and longer travel from point A to point B tomorrow, so if you have to head out, be sure to hit the road a few minutes early and take it slow! – GregUntitled

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Posted under snow, travel, winter weather

This post was written by qni_it on March 11, 2014