Will it get cold again this March?

March 9, 2016: It’s easy to get used to this week’s weather!  Temperatures soared to as warm as the 70’s by Tuesday, but now temperatures will settle into the 50’s for the next week or so, which is still at least 10° above average.

Now that spring has sprung early, will it stick around? That’s a big question a lot of people are curious about, so let’s dive into it.

First off, we aren’t looking for cold air anytime soon. In fact, the weather looks to stay above average through at least next Wednesday! That means at least another week of the 50’s, with some days in the 60’s.

That means we’ll have to look further out for signs of cold air.  Keep in mind, the farther we go out from the present, the more could change with the weather situation, so the maps I show next won’t be exactly what happens in the coming weeks:

The GFS model showing the jet stream for next Friday night, March 18th.

The GFS model showing the jet stream for next Friday night, March 18th. Click on the image to enlarge.

Here’s one computer model’s thoughts on the jet stream about 10 days out from now (next Friday). Do you see that ‘U’ shape in the wind pattern, and how far south it goes? That doesn’t look good for us.  This pattern points toward bringing in much colder air out of Canada.

Surface temperatures for Friday, March 18th, according to the GFS model

Surface temperatures for Friday, March 18th, according to the GFS model. Click on the image to enlarge.

Surface temperatures for Friday, March 18th, according to the European model

Surface temperatures for Friday, March 18th, according to the European model. Click on the image to enlarge.

These next two maps are two different computers models (the GFS model and the European model) and what they think surface temperatures will be under that possible weather pattern next Friday.  Remember, take this with a grain a salt, but don’t put away the heavy jackets yet!  While the models differ on where to put the coldest air, they both agree that we’ll see highs in the middle to low 40’s, which by that point is closer to 10 degrees BELOW average!

Surface temperatures for Sunday, March 20th, according to the GFS model.  Click on the image to enlarge.

Surface temperatures for Sunday, March 20th, according to the GFS model. Click on the image to enlarge.

If we look even farther out, the GFS model wants to bring us highs in the 30’s by the following Sunday!

Remember, a lot can change with all of this.  As the models get more information, they’ll refine their forecast, plus getting closer to next Friday gives the models much more current information to work with.

It isn’t surprising that be might see cold weather before the month is over- it is March after all! This month definitely has a lot of back and forth weather!

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 9, 2016
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Severe Weather Preparedness Week 2016

March 3, 2016: This week is Severe Weather Preparedness Week for the state of Illinois. Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, the state has its statewide tornado drill, so you likely heard the warning sirens, and your weather radio also may have gone off with a test message. The National Weather Service also held a storm spotter training class for Winnebago County.

The purpose of the week is to remind and refresh residents on the dangers of severe weather. Why so early in March, when there’s still snow in the forecast? Look at it this way- there’s still plenty of time to get ready and refresh yourself on your severe weather plan of action before the storms start to hit our area!

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So what should you do to get ready?  First, review your severe weather plan of action. Don’t have one? Here’s what you should think over and coordinate with your friends and family: where do you need to go to be safe from severe weather?  This includes tornadoes, severe thunderstorms with hail and high winds, and flash flooding. You may know where to go in your house or apartment, but do you know where to go at work, at school, at church, or anywhere else you visit frequently?  If you don’t know, start asking at those places or ask us at 13 WREX- we are hear to help!

Secondly, make sure you have multiple ways to get severe weather information.  This may include:

– outdoor warning sirens (***IMPORTANT***: remember that those sirens are only meant for people outdoors! You may not hear them in the house, so don’t completely rely on them!)

– local TV and radio stations

– a NOAA weather radio

– text message alerts or weather app alerts

– calls from family or friends to relay important information

– the internet

Multiple ways to get severe weather alerts is very, very important.  Only relying on one way to get warnings can lead to injury or worse, in case that particular method does not get your attention in time.

Severe weather season is coming up fast- while severe weather can happen at any time of the year (even in winter), our peak season for tornadoes is between April and June, with flash flood events mostly likely between July and August. Start getting ready now, and stay tuned for more information like this as we get closer to the start of severe weather season!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 3, 2016
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Storm Spotter Training Season

Feb. 26, 2016: It’s that time of year again to start thinking about severe weather. I know we are barely out of winter, but that’s why it’s a good time: you have plenty of days to prepare before spring severe weather season kicks off!

If you are at all curious or enthusiastic about severe weather, do your community a favor and attend the National Weather Service’s storm spotter training class this upcoming Tuesday.  Why?

1) It’s free!  Well, almost free: the class is 2 hours long, so you’ll have to give up part of your evening.

2) You’ll be properly trained to report severe weather. Why’s that important? Storm spotters provide potentially life-saving observations.  Even as new technology emerges to help the NWS issue warnings with more lead time, NWS meteorologists can’t be everywhere at once, and technology can’t fully replace having trained individuals confirming on the ground what the radar is indicating.

3) You’ll help your community: as mentioned above, your reports help confirm what the NWS is able to see on radar, satellite, etc., which in turn helps get warnings out quicker.  The faster your neighbors know about a warning, the more time they have to get to a safe place.

The NWS will be in Cherry Valley to host Winnebago County on March 1st, and in Dixon to host Lee and Ogle Counties March 23rd. For more information, click here.  We at the 13 Weather Authority know how much of a help storm spotters provide during severe weather season, so we hope you are able to attend!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 26, 2016
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Back to Reality (late February edition)

February 22, 2016: Who enjoyed the 50° warmth over the weekend? Wasn’t that nice? The weather pattern this week is a subtle reminder that winter isn’t over just yet.

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First off, having the 40’s in February is still doing pretty well. Average highs are between 37° to 39° this time of year, so even cracking 40° feels pretty nice (though not substantially above average).  We should remain close to average, if not a little above, each day this week.

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The winds are coming back as well, as a by-product of the temperatures whipping back and forth between the middle 40’s and the middle 30’s. While not like Friday’s hard-hitting 60 mph gusts, we should see wind gusts reach 30 mph each of the days listed in the graphic, making the weather blustery for a few days this week.

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Finally, we are keeping an eye on a major snow-maker…just not necessarily here. The latest major winter storm looks to hit Michigan with up to 6″ of snow, with areas of Indiana and Illinois getting in on the fun as well. Right now, Rockford looks to get flurries and windy weather out of the storm only.

Snow forecast for Wednesday (valid 8:30 pm Monday, Feb. 22)

Snow forecast for Wednesday (valid 8:30 pm Monday, Feb. 22)

However, if you have any business or reason to go into Chicago on Wednesday, keep a close eye on the weather. A few inches of snow plus the blustery winds are possible for the Windy City in the middle of the week.

For those unhappy with winter “returning” this week, keep in mind- the official start to Spring is less than a month away!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 22, 2016
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Friday’s High Winds

February 19, 2015: Friday’s winds were a little much at times, with hazardous conditions even popping up at wind gusts topped 60 mph! A fast-moving, very strong area of low pressure combined with dry air and sunshine allowed the strong winds from higher in the atmosphere to reach the surface, blasting us with 50-60 mph wind gusts for parts of the day.

Top wind gusts for February 19

Top wind gusts for February 19

Not surprisingly, we had all sorts of issues with the wind, from power flickers and outages to semi rollovers to downed tree limbs and branches.

Courtesy: Lisa Cushman Hasting

Courtesy: Lisa Cushman Hasting

Take a good look at the semi, and remember, on very windy days like this, to take it slower and have a firm grip on the steering wheel.  Granted, semi trucks catch the wind a lot easier, but the power of the wind can cause accidents.

Aprilruary

High temperatures for February 19

High temperatures for February 19

On the positive side, check out our temperatures! Saturday will be in the 50’s, and highs almost reached the 60’s, which would have been the only the 9th time on record in Rockford. Enjoy the warmth while it’s here!

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 19, 2016
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50’s in February

Feb. 16, 2016: With the end of the week showing signs of 50° weather in northern Illinois (or warmer than that in central Illinois!), I got a little curious- how often do we typically see 50° weather in February?  The short answer: not very often.

February 50sIn an average February (from the 1980 to 2010 climate records (the National Weather Service sets our climate normals each decade based on the previous 30 years)), we get a whopping 2 days in the 50’s.  However, considering how cold February can get, plus the fact that we are still in winter, that’s doing pretty well!

Looking further into this, it has been a little while since we were treated to a day in the 50’s in February.  Feb. 18, 2013 was the last time the thermometer read 50° or higher in Rockford (the high was 52° that day).

In fact, it will be nearly 3 years to the very day that the 50’s return to the Stateline in February.  February 19th is this Friday, which is when the 50’s pop up next! How neat is that!

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 16, 2016
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Ground blizzard

February 8th, 2016: Something interesting weather-wise happened in the Midwest today. Have you ever heard of a ground blizzard? I’m sure you are familiar with a blizzard; one almost reached the Stateline last week, and buried some spots in Iowa with a foot of snow.

What makes a blizzard such a dangerous storm is not necessarily the amount of snow, but what the storm does with it. A blizzard produces high winds, which blows the snow around, and creates whiteouts. Not only is driving very difficult to dangerous, the whiteouts make it impossible to see.

There were blizzard warnings into Iowa and Minnesota today, but not because of a major winter storm slamming the area again. Instead, a ground blizzard occurred.

This image, tweeted out by the National Weather Service in La Crosse, WI, shows the dangerous weather conditions during the ground blizzard.

This image, tweeted out by the National Weather Service in La Crosse, WI, shows the dangerous weather conditions during the ground blizzard.

The big difference is between a “regular” blizzard and a “ground” blizzard is that the ground blizzard is much more of a wind-driven event. These events happen a lot more often in North and South Dakota, where high winds are able to blow around light and fluffy snow, causing whiteouts in the windy areas. Today’s storm did produce a couple inches of light snow, which was enough to create impossible-to-see conditions when combined with the winds.

The reason behind all of this? It’s easy to get caught up in how much snow we can get in a storm, but remember that other conditions like wind can factor into how dangerous a storm can be!

– Alex

 

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Posted under science, weather, Wind, winter storm, winter weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 8, 2016
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El Niño Check-In

February 5, 2016:

El Niño causes much warmer water to develop in the Pacific near the Equator and South America; that, in turn, affects the jet stream over North America

El Niño causes much warmer water to develop in the Pacific near the Equator and South America; that, in turn, affects the jet stream over North America

Now that we are just past the 2nd month of winter, how is the strong El Niño that we were talking about going into winter affecting us so far?

El Niño's effects on North America during the winter

El Niño’s effects on North America during the winter

As you may remember, El Niño brings a much warmer and drier winter to the Midwest, and a strong El Niño like the one in play now amplifies those effects.

El_Nino Update3

No question about El Niño’s effects on December: warmest on record. January, however, was a little cooler, but still a little above average. El Niño peaked in the Pacific after December, so its effects didn’t have as much of an impact. The drier than average portion of El Niño still came into play: January was 6″ below average for snowfall (and we didn’t see much rain, either), just like December.

Climate Prediction Center's forecast for February shows potentially warmer than average weather

Climate Prediction Center’s forecast for February shows potentially warmer than average weather

One month to go- and February looks to be warmer than average, as we still see some influence from the strong El Niño.  In a few weeks, we can put a bow on this winter, and see just how much El Niño impacted this season!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 5, 2016
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Groundhog Day Storm?

January 28, 2016- You may have started to hear recently that a major winter storm may hit the Midwest next week between Tuesday and Wednesday. We’re here to say to not worry about this storm…yet.

The storm itself is still over the Pacific Ocean, and many miles and several days away. Therefore, if you start seeing snow maps or snow amounts, take those with a large grain of salt!  Here’s why: the storm track and timing widely varies, depending on what model you are looking at, at least right now. Also, for our area, we may see a lot of rain…or a mix of rain and snow, or even freezing rain.  It will come down to how warm temperatures are that particular day and night, which will be determined by the storm track.

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We can say that the forecast models are showing a strong storm coming in, but each handles the storm differently, which is why it’s not worth it to put out maps of this storm yet.  The models all have one thing in common- strong winds look to come with this storm, regardless of where it tracks.

So what’s the message here? Keep an eye on the forecast, and maybe even think a little about what you may need to do to prepare for the storm.  Don’t make any drastic preparations yet, just start coming up with a list of possible things to do in your head. We’ll start putting out forecasts for this storm as we get closer to the event! Stay tuned!

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on January 28, 2016
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Friday Flurries

January 21, 2016: Flurries will be in the air Friday, but don’t look for much accumulation around the Stateline. Our neighbors to the east along the shores of Lake Michigan like Chicago and Milwaukee may see an inch or two out of the Lake Effect snow that sets up tomorrow.

Lake effect snow is much more prominent in areas like Buffalo, NY, but we can get occasional snow showers forming in this manner if conditions and the wind direction are right.

Lake effect snow is possible Friday, January 22

Lake effect snow is possible Friday, January 22

Lake effect snow occurs when colder air flows across the warmer air right over the surface of the lake. Because the warm, very moist lake air cools quickly as the colder air flows over it, snow showers are able to form. The wind blows those snow showers inland, and a ton of snow can fall, depending on how warm the lake is and how cold the air over it is.

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Tomorrow won’t be a big snow-maker. Again, Chicago may see an inch or two in some spots, but the showers will fall apart the farther west they go, leading to just a dusting around the Stateline, if anything. Plan ahead if traveling into Chicago tomorrow and beware of slippery roads.

futuretrack

Futuretrack for Saturday, January 23. Heavy snow will strike the East Coast.

Snow forecast for January 22, 2016.

Snow forecast for January 22, 2016.

Thankfully, we avoid a monster snow storm heading to the East Coast. Heavy snow showers may dump up to 2 feet of snow over cities like Baltimore and Washington, DC, with blizzard conditions possible in Maryland. Traveling that way for the weekend? Be ready for a lot of airport delays!

-Alex

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