Impressive Storm Slams Stateline With Sleet

Dec. 29, 2015: Monday’s storm was something else. First off, look at the sheer magnitude of the storm:

Radar image from Monday evening during the sleet storm.

Radar image from Monday afternoon during the sleet storm.

From south to north, there were tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings in the Gulf States within a line of strong thunderstorms. Missouri and central Illinois experienced flooding rainfall. Further north, we experienced a wintry mixture as the atmosphere above the ground was warm, while temperatures as the surface were cold. Finally, the air was cold enough to produce at least a half of a foot of snow across Wisconsin into Minnesota and Iowa.

This storm was very unique for our area, in that sleet doesn’t not usually last as long as it did yesterday. The atmospheric conditions have to be just right to produce sleet, so usually sleet is brief within a storm and doesn’t accumulate much.

frz rain 1We typically see either snow or freezing rain. (Sleet forms when snow melts on the way down, then re-freezes into ice pellets).

forecastIn total, 3 1/2″ of sleet and snow fell in Rockford yesterday, with 2″ to 4″ across the rest of the Stateline. Snow and sleet are lumped together when making measurements for the climate records.  There is a lot more water with sleet than snow, making sleet much heavier to move around. Shoveling was a pain yesterday!

After yesterday’s event, we saw our water total (rain, plus snow and sleet melted down) for the month go above 4 1/2″, meaning this December is now the 2nd wettest on record for Rockford! We likely won’t get to the top spot, despite being only 0.4″ away. There’s a little more snow in the forecast tomorrow, then that’s it for the month (and the year!).

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 29, 2015
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Sleet vs Freezing Rain in Monday’s Winter Storm

Dec 27, 2015: If you hadn’t heard yet, a winter storm will be impacting the Stateline tomorrow morning with sleet, freezing rain, and rain. Please head to https://www.wrex.com or https://www.facebook.com/13wxauthority/ for the latest.

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With this storm, we will see a variety of wintry precipitation.  Here’s the big differences between them:

Freezing rain is rain that freezes once it hits the ground or any surface below freezing. The rain doesn’t form into ice until it touches something. This creates a layer of ice that coats surfaces like cars, sidewalks, streets, trees, and power lines.

FREEZING RAIN

Sleet is ice pellets falling from the clouds.  These occur when snow starts to fall (temperatures are below freezing near cloud level), then the snow melts when it falls into a layer of above freezing air.  As it falls further, temperatures go back down below freezing, causing the melted snow to freeze into ice pellets as it reaches the ground. Much like snow, these ice pellets can accumulate and cause slick conditions.

A degree or two in the temperature can make all the difference between freezing rain, sleet, and rain, making tomorrow’s storm tricky to forecast which and how much we’ll see of each. Overall, plan on icy precipitation (sleet or freezing rain) through much of the morning.

Very icy roads are possible throughout the morning, so plan ahead and leave extra early so you can take it slow if you have to travel.  In addition, the layer of ice that may form on trees and power lines may lead to lots of power outages.  The winds are going to gust over 40 mph, so between the wind and added weight of the ice, limbs and lines may be falling.  Be careful if walking or driving around in your neighborhood tomorrow.

Again, for more updates, head to www.wrex.com.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 27, 2015
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LATEST- Severe Weather Risk

A risk for severe weather is in play for all of us in the Stateline, mainly by mid-late afternoon and into the evening. In fact, parts of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Missouri have already seen severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings earlier this morning.

12-23-15 radar 545

Expect rain showers all day, beginning in the morning and lasting until around midnight tonight. A few thunderstorms could pop up by late morning/very early afternoon, though there is a low risk for those to turn severe.

There’s a better chance at some severe thunderstorms by mid to late afternoon and into the evening, as a cool front sweeps through the Stateline- clashing a cool air mass with a warm one. Damaging winds and an isolated tornado are both risks associated with these thunderstorms. Be weather aware today, many of us aren’t thinking of severe weather during the month of December. It has happened before, and could happen again today/tonight.

12-23-15 TT

If you’re headed south or southeast for the holidays, be on the lookout. An enhanced risk for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are in place for far southern Illinois and Indiana, central and western Kentucky and Tennessee, northwestern Alabama, central and northern Mississippi, eastern Arkansas, and southeastern Missouri.
If you’re headed east toward Chicago, south into central Illinois, or southwest toward the Quad Cities, a slight risk for damaging winds and an isolated tornado is in place.

Otherwise, a foggy morning with temperatures in the upper 40s will be in place through the late morning. We’ll climb to near 60 degrees this afternoon, with winds gusting up to 30mph (higher, when in a thunderstorm). Rain and t’storms until about 7 or 8PM tonight, then a little rain possible until midnight.

-Meteorologist Morgan Kolkmeyer

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This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on December 23, 2015
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“Spring Weather” in December brings thunderstorms

Dec. 22, 2015: This month is currently on track to be the warmest December on record for Rockford! 2015 is currently nearly 4° warmer for average temperature than the top spot holder, December 1923. One of the side effects from such a warm winter month is that we’ve had plenty of rain, but not much snow so far this month.

The warm weather also means that when a storm system slides through the region, we may see more thunderstorms instead of snow storms.  That will be the case for tomorrow afternoon (head’s up holiday travelers!).

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Futuretrack for tomorrow afternoon (dated 12/22)

An area of low pressure brings in a lot of warm air, then quickly moves in colder conditions. Thunderstorms will pop up from the clash between the two air masses.  With plenty of moisture to work with, these showers and storms may produce heavy rain at times.  Most of this rain arrives in the afternoon.

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We could see up to an inch of rainfall tomorrow.  Watch out along small streams and rivers- there could be some minor flooding between tomorrow’s rain and all of the rain that’s fallen recently. Remember to not set your cruise control during heavy rain, because your vehicle won’t react well to water over the roads and you may hydroplane out of control.

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There is even a risk for severe weather, thanks to the warm and humid air moving into the region. While the risk is higher south and east of Peoria, we can’t fully rule out strong to severe thunderstorms south and east of Rockford.

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Damaging winds is the main threat from any strong storm tomorrow, but an isolated tornado cannot be ruled out either.  Most of the rain should be leaving the area by tomorrow evening.

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In addition to all of the stormy weather, the winds will be strong as well, gusting over 35 mph for much of the day. Have a firm grip on the steering wheel if you are traveling tomorrow!

forecast

Overall, make sure you and anyone that you know that is traveling in the region tomorrow is weather aware.  Stay up to speed on the weather forecast, especially during the afternoon when thunderstorms are possible.  Have multiple ways to get weather information and alerts, including your weather radio. Hopefully we won’t have to worry about severe weather, but be on guard just in case!  The weather will be a lot quieter by Christmas Eve.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 22, 2015
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Waterlogged

Dec. 14, 2015: It’s going to take a while before we dry out after our latest round of winter rain! There’s plenty of puddles in backyards and fields around the Stateline, as many locations picked up at least 1 1/2″ of rain between Friday night and this morning.

evening planner

Rain totals, Dec. 12 to Dec. 14, 2015.

The reason for all of the standing water is that the ground can’t hold any more after what’s been a very soggy past four weeks.

Over the last four weeks, heavy rain and snow has left the Stateline full of water.

Over the last four weeks, heavy rain and snow has left the Stateline full of water.

We’ve been averaging about one inch of water a week, between snow melt and heavy rain showers. The wet pattern started after our first snow storm of the season in late November, then continued through the wettest Thanksgiving on record for Rockford, followed by an active start to December, then finishing with this weekend’s rain storm.

Why so wet? We’ve been stuck in this basic weather pattern:

PATTERN

The jet stream has been able to dip well to the south, drawing up extra moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, and depositing it over us as storms sweep through the Midwest. The extra fuel for these storms give them the ability to produce plenty of rain and snow.

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We do get a bit of a break from the rain for a while, after a chance for light rain on Wednesday.  Look for more possible rain next week.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 14, 2015
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Record December Warmth…With More On The Way?

Dec. 10, 2015: Apparently we need every degree of warmth we can get to reach a 104-year-old record!  Today’s high of 57° tied the warmest high temperature record for this date set in 1911.  The afternoon high was 22° above average for this time of year!  The unseasonable warmth kicked it up another notch this afternoon, and we should stay in the 50’s for awhile, if not see the low 60’s by this weekend.

2This would mean more temperature records are in jeopardy within the next few days. As you can see on the list, we’d have to get into the low 60’s to break the next few daily high temperature records.  Saturday and Sunday look to have the best chances, as temperature look to be close to, if not into, the low 60’s this weekend (forecast: www.wrex.com/weather).

The record warmth looks to be short-lived; we should be falling back into the 40’s and 30’s by next week.

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 10, 2015
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50’s in December Common…A Ton of 50’s? Not So Much

Dec. 09, 2015: We jumped up into the 50’s today, and this may mark the first of five days in a row with the 50’s this week!

The 50’s aren’t uncommon for December.  In fact, over the last 30 years, we’ve averaged 2 days in the 50’s each December.

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What is uncommon is the amount of 50° days. Every few years, we get a handful of the 50’s, rather than one or two days here and there. The last came in 2012, with 5 days in the 50’s.

Even more uncommon: this would be the latest stretch of 5 or more days of 50° weather on record for December, if it pans out.  According to the National Weather Service-Chicago, there hasn’t been a stretch of 5 days or more in January in the 50’s, so this could be the latest 5 day run for meteorological winter!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 9, 2015
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Where Do We Stand So Far This December?

December 8, 2015: Ok, it’s only one week in, and a lot can change over the rest of the month, but we’ve been very warm so far this month.  The extra warmth has even prompted several golf courses in the area to stay open.

High temperatures for Dec. 1-8, 2015, with the average high temperature trend in pink.

High temperatures for Dec. 1-8, 2015, with the average high temperature trend in pink.

In fact, 4 out of the last 5 days have been in the low 40’s or warmer, with three of those days at 11 degrees above average!  Highs will be in the 40’s to 50’s over the rest of the week.

All this warm weather points toward El Niño’s influence over the region as the climate pattern takes hold this winter. A strong El Niño pattern usually brings much warmer weather to the Midwest, and that has been the case for the first week of the month, and looks to still apply to the second week of December and beyond.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 8, 2015
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Warm start to December

Dec. 3, 2015: It looks like the strong El Niño is kicking is as we get into the start of winter. The weather is expected to stay above average for at least the rest of this week, and lasting into next week and possibly well beyond.

cpc

For the month as a whole, the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a 70% chance for above average temperatures, which could be as much as 5° or more above average!  This is for the entire month averaged together, so there still could be some really cold days in the mix soon; however, the warm days will outnumber the cold days, giving us above average weather.

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Keep in mind, this doesn’t mean a ton of the 60’s or really warm weather, like we saw 3 years ago today with an all-time high of 69° for December. Here’s the daily average high temperature as we go throughout the month of December:

1ST HALF OF JANUARY

As you can see, we typically have highs in the middle 30’s through most of the month. So, above average weather may only be the high 30’s to low 40’s. It may not be much above average, but a series of these throughout the month would give us warmer than usual weather for the month.

So, it’s all about perspective.  We may not see really warm days, but anything over the low 30’s is a win for the month when it comes to warm weather.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 3, 2015
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Wet November

Nov. 30, 2015: No big surprise here: November was definitely on the wet side, especially after a record-setting Thanksgiving (wettest on record for Rockford). There’s still a little time to go, but it looks like this month will be in the top 5 at least for snow and precipitation:

Precipitation stats for November 2015. Click on image to enlarge.

Precipitation stats for November 2015. Click on image to enlarge.

With one snow storm alone, this month vaulted into the top 3 for snowiest November’s. The top spot belongs to 1947, with 14.8″ of snow.

As for precipitation (this is rainfall AND the liquid equivalent of the snow (i.e. all of the snow melted down to water)), November 2015 ranks at least in the top 4. The official total will be know after midnight, and there is a little more rain that may fall and could nudge the precipitation total of the month into the top 3.

November 2015 will also be know for the very mild weather throughout most of the month, and the warm conditions will keep chugging along into December. More on that later this week!

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 30, 2015
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