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.



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

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
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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.



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



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



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



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



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 3, 2017
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Happy Groundhog Day!

Feb. 2, 2017: The furry “forecasters” have spoken! Punxsutawney Phil and Woodstock Willy both saw their shadows, so as legend has it, spring will not come early and we’ll have 6 more weeks of winter.

ghog day

Fun and games aside, March 20th is the official start of spring, regardless of what our fuzzy friends have to say about. The weather hasn’t felt much like winter lately, either!


la nina temps

la nina precip

December was near average for temperatures, and above average for snow, so that month felt like winter. January, however, was well above average for temperatures, to the point where we had the 14th warmest January on record for Rockford. We also had barely any snow- 8th least snowy January on record to be exact after only 0.7″ of snow!

What’s ahead for February? Here’s what the Climate Prediction Center has to say. They have a little more knowledge on forecasting than a large rodent ;).

The CPC is forecasting above average temperatures for our neck of the woods this month. We may not be that much above average, but that could mean those days in the low 40’s pop up more regularly.


We also may see a little more precipitation than usual in our region, though that doesn’t mean snow necessarily, like we saw last month!


January was above average by nearly an inch for precipitation, with the vast majority of that being liquid rather than frozen.

One things for sure– we still have some cold days to go before we are fully into the spring season! Follow the advice of the groundhog and bundle up!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 2, 2017
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Why so cloudy?

Jan. 31, 2017: Sunshine is in the forecast! Not just a few glimpses, either. By the end of the work week, the sky should be mostly sunny for a short stretch.

sunny outlook


The trade off: the weather gets colder. The colder air is drier, helping get rid of any extra moisture to help make clouds.

Midwest RPM 4km Hi-Res with fronts

The colder air helps get rid of one of the main mechanisms for creating all of the cloudy weather over the last few weeks: a temperature inversion. WARNING: there’s a lot of science ahead!

A temperature inversion is when a layer of colder air gets trapped under a layer of warmer air.

temperature inversion


Remember: warm air rises, cold air sinks. Under this setup, the cold, dense air near the surface doesn’t want to rise too far, since it’s colder than the air around it. We’d have to either warm up the lower layer of air a lot until it’s warm enough to rise past the upper layer, or we get the upper layer cold enough that the lower layer can rise as well.

temperature inversion1

Where do the clouds come in? As the lower layer starts to heat up, it rises like warm air likes to do. However, it can only go so far before it hits the “lid” of warmer air over top of it. Clouds form right where the “lid” is, and can get “trapped” there, since the lower layer isn’t getting much warmer. As long as the inversion is in place, the weather remains mostly cloudy like we saw over the last few weeks.

temperature inversion2

Not helping was all of the melting snow recently. This adds moisture to the air, creating more clouds and fog that don’t want to clear out.

In the case of this week, the air gets back to its “usual” set up (getting colder as you rise through the atmosphere) with a new round of colder air sliding in. That gets rid of the clouds, brings back the sun, yet drops our temperature for a few days.

Ok, that was a lot of science. Comment on our Facebook page or email me at if you have any questions!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 31, 2017
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Not much snow for January

Jan. 25, 2017: For the first time in over 2 weeks, we’ll be seeing measurable snow fall tonight. Our last legit snow in Rockford was on January 9th, with a whopping 0.2″ falling. We average 10.3″ of snow in January, so we better get going on the snow if we hope to have an average month!

least snowy januarys

Pending tonight’s snow, we are currently ranking high in the least snowiest January’s. With 0.2″ total, January 2017 stands at 2nd for least amount of snowfall in a January. If we add 1″ onto our total, we’d still be in the top 10 for least snowiest.

Tonight’s round may be our last real shot of snow in the area, as flurries are in the forecast, which won’t lead to much through the end of the month. We likely won’t be seeing a dry overall month, though. After all of the rainfall this month, we stand just under 1″ above average with a few more days to go. That makes this particular month very interesting; above average for precipitation, but well below average for snow!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 25, 2017
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