Wet, Not White, Christmas

Dec. 22, 2016: We may still end up with a white Christmas, but a lot of snow will disappear soon, especially when rain and warmer weather melt and wash it away this weekend. As mentioned yesterday, there’s a little more snow to be added to our month’s total before the melting begins.

Holiday travelers, head’s up. Roads could be a little messy Friday evening.

DMA RPM 4km Hi-Res

No major updates to the snow forecast for Friday. Light snow looks to start in the afternoon, then continue all evening, and wrapping up after 10 pm Friday night.

DMA 24hr RPM 4K Snowfall

The snow may have trouble sticking to the roads at first; with above freezing temperatures and a warmer road bed, roads should stay wet through the afternoon. Once we get into the evening and conditions start cooling off, look for slippery roads at times similar to last Friday during the evening and early overnight.

WEEKEND SNOW

In total, 1″-2″ of snow is expected in the Stateline, with 2″-4″ of snow falling in Wisconsin and northeast Iowa.

By Christmas, wet weather of a different kind arrives. Stay alert: freezing drizzle is possible Saturday night and Sunday morning. This is a slight change from earlier forecasts calling for freezing rain. The freezing drizzle won’t ice up the roads much, but it could create slick spots, especially on bridges and overpasses.

Futuretrack RPM 12km

By the afternoon, fog and rain showers take over, creating very soggy roads. There even is a slight chance for a few rumbles of thunder Sunday night. Take it slow, since the fog may be dense at times.

We could see over 1/3″ of an inch of rain on Sunday, which may put us in the top 5 for wettest Christmas’s. We won’t beat the top spot, but 2nd place is a definite possibility.

wet christmas

Regardless of when you head out for the holiday, slow down and stay safe on the roads! Have a happy and joyous holiday weekend!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 22, 2016
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Holiday Travel Trouble

Dec. 21, 2016: Welcome to the first day of Winter!  The Winter Solstice occurred at 4:44 am this morning, officially kicking off the season for the Northern Hemisphere. Right on time, we have to deal with a little winter weather during the holiday weekend.

ROUND 1: Friday evening

Think back to last Friday, and how messy the roads were at times. We should see something similar play out: light (a.k.a. low) snow totals, but bad timing for going home to work/hitting the road for the holiday.

WEEKEND SNOW

A quick moving area of low pressure in the upper atmosphere will brew up a round of light snow showers, starting Friday afternoon. By the evening rush, 1″ of snow may be on the ground, making roads slick. The snow showers should continue into the early overnight hours, then end by very early Saturday morning. In total, 1″ to 2″ of snow is in the forecast for our area, with lesser amounts to the south, and higher amounts to the north, especially north of Madison, WI.

WEEKEND SNOW2

While the amounts don’t seem that daunting, the evening drive home or out of town will be impacted like it was last Friday. Slick roads means slower or difficult travel ahead of the holiday weekend.

ROUND 2: Sunday (Christmas Day)

A very-well defined area of low pressure swings up from the south, bringing with is a lot of moisture. This time around, we will be warm enough for a rain-maker instead of a snow storm!

gfs weekend outlook

A couple of things to watch out for with this system- as temperatures hover near freezing in the early morning, freezing rain and icy roads are possible. Temperatures should warm quickly during the day and get rid of the icy roads, but if you are out early, be careful. The rain should pick up by the afternoon, and soak the area throughout the evening and night. We may see up to 1/2″ of rain! This will cause wet to even flooded roads between the rainfall and melting snow, so be aware of that. Winds may gust up to 30 mph with this system during Christmas evening and night, so travel may be difficult during the evening, especially after sunset. Foggy conditions during the rain may not help either. The wet weather should wrap up by Monday morning.

holiday travel

In both cases, getting on the road early may be key, especially Friday. If you can leave a half day early, it may be wise to do so, since hitting the road Friday afternoon means quiet travel weather for a while. On Sunday, wet and foggy roads means taking is slower to get home, so take your time and plan ahead.  Either way, use common sense and leave plenty of space between you and the vehicles around you, have an emergency kit in your car, and turn on your headlights. Safe travels this weekend, everyone!

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 21, 2016
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Fast start to snow season

Dec. 13, 2016: The snow has piled up quickly this December in the Stateline! 2 rounds of snow have piled up 11.6″ of snow so far in Rockford, which is impressive for a variety of reasons.

#1: We are already above average for snow for the WHOLE month.

Dec Snow Avg

A typical December averages 11.3″ of snow. We are sitting at 11.6″ after 2 snowfalls, with potentially another heavy round coming this weekend. The most snow a December has received on record: 30.1″ during December 2000. Usually there’s only around 3″ of snow on the ground, if this was an average month.

#2: We have already had half the amount of snow of all of last winter!

Remember, last winter was influenced by one of the warmest El Niño’s on record, providing very warm conditions. As a result, only 24″ of snow fell all of last winter. We are almost halfway there, and winter’s barely started.

#3: The last 2 Decembers have been very dry for snow, so this December feels extra snowy in comparison.

2016: 11.6″*** (with more to come)

2015: 5.2″

2014: 0.1″ (one of the drier Decembers on record, and definitely one of the least snowy ever)

2013: 17.7″

In fact, if you combine the last 2 Decembers, and double them, you almost get this month’s total so far. Wow!

Again, we’ll be adding to this total with another potential snow storm on the way this weekend. White Christmas, here we come!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on December 13, 2016
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Happy Meteorological Winter!

Happy Meteorological Winter! 12-1-16 met winter

What’s that, you ask?

December 1st marks the first day of Meteorological Winter, which is a 3 month period that meteorologist use to keep track of weather data and history. “Meteorological” seasons are based on yearly temperature data, whereas “astronomical” seasons (what most people use) are based on where the Earth is in relation to the sun.

So how long are we in this Meteorological Winter?

Here’s the answer: Three. long. months.

Just kidding, I’m actually pretty excited to get into colder temperatures. In fact, I’m hoping for a couple of big snowfalls this winter, especially after a few days in the 70s this November.

So let’s talk a little bit about what Meteorological Winter (December, January, February) is typically like for us here in northern Illinois.

December
Early December afternoon temperatures typically bring us to a high near 40 degrees or just below that. However, the entire month holds an average high temperature of near freezing (33.2 degrees), with an average overnight low temperature of about 18 degrees. We average in a little more than 11 inches of snow.

January
Say hello to the coldest month of the year! High temperatures average around 29.5 degrees and low temperatures around 13.5 degrees. January usually brings us around 10 inches of snowfall.

February
Ah yes, the final meteorological winter month. February turns out pretty similar to December, with an average high temperature near 34 degrees, and a low near 18 degrees. It does differ in snowfall, bringing in an average of 7.7 inches to Rockford.

Enjoy the next three months- Meteorological Spring will be here before you know it!

-Morgan Kolkmeyer

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This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on December 1, 2016
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Consistently Cool

Nov. 29, 2016: We are almost into December, and the extended forecast looks to be fairly consistent this week: cool, mostly cloudy, occasionally rainy with a few flurries mixed in. After a fairly warm and up-and-down month when it comes to temperature, the quieter, consistent weather is a big departure from the roller coaster month of November.

What’s driving all this? In the short term, it’s a cutoff low. An area of low pressure is spinning its gears over the Upper Midwest.

cut off low

The low is “cut off” from the main jet stream flow, meaning nothing is moving it out or moving different weather in. For the next few days, we’ll see the weather stay cloudy, near 40° for a high, and mostly dry. This “stagnant” pattern breaks down this weekend after 3 consistent days.

snow outlook

The lone exception is when the low wobbles close enough to us that it will spark a few scattered showers, mostly as rain mixed with flurries or light snow. After that, it should wobble away enough to provide wet weather elsewhere, but keeps cloudy and cool weather around.

The jet stream looks to be more active next week, providing a few chances for precipitation. Head’s up!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 29, 2016
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Warmest November On Record?

Nov. 22, 2016: The weather recently has felt extra chilly, yet normal at the same time. This is what late November should feel like. The extra chilly feeling just shows how warm this particular November has been, up until last weekend.

Looking at the numbers, the results so far this month have been impressive: if the month ended today, we’d have the warmest November on record!

Click on image to zoom in.

Click on image to zoom in.

We would pass November 2001 by a whole degree. However, we still have 8 days left for the month with near average temperatures in the forecast, and the cooler conditions will definitely drag down this month’s average when all is said and done.

Right outside the top 3 is something interesting- last year was awfully warm as well. November 2015 was the 7th warmest November, aided by one of the warmest El Niño’s on record last winter. Could we see back-to-back top 10 warmest Novembers? We’ll find out in 8 days!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 22, 2016
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Winter Weather Preparedness Week 2016

Nov. 18, 2016: The weather has felt a lot more like spring than late fall lately, but cold air catching up with us in a hurry this weekend. Now is a good time to start thinking over your winter emergency plans and start preparing for winter weather well before the first snow storm hits. You won’t have to worry about getting ready during the nasty, icy weather!

The National Weather Service in Chicago has a Winter Weather Preparedness Week annually to help residents of the Stateline prepare. We helped spread the word this week by making a handful graphics to bring you reminders and advice for the upcoming winter. Here’s the full list of graphics for your reference:

winter weather awareness weekwinter weather awareness week blizzard winter weather awareness week dress  WINTER WX PREPAREDNESS WEEK 2 winter wx preparedness winter driving 2 winter wx preparedness winter driving winter wx preparedness shoveling winter wx preparedness winter PRECIP

Click on each image to zoom in on it. Key takeaways: put together your winter emergency supplies NOW in both the house and all of your vehicles. Pay close attention to the weather forecast when snow is mentioned. Take it slow and easy while driving when slow starts falling.  Most importantly- find a way to enjoy the winter weather!

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 18, 2016
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“Super-sized” Supermoon!

Nov. 10, 2016: Get out and take a good look at the moon Sunday night– we have another Supermoon to look forward to, as this one will be “super-sized”.

A quick refresher on the supermoon: the Moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle, but more like an ellipse, so there’s times when it’s closer to the Earth, and times when it’s farther away. Whenever there’s a full moon at the same time the Moon is closer in orbit, it looks a little brighter and bigger in the sky, hence the term “Supermoon”.

We’ll have a clear sky Sunday night, giving us a good shot at seeing an extra special occurrence. The moon hasn’t been this close to Earth since 1948, and won’t be this close again until 2034. On average, the moon is around 238,900 miles away from Earth, but Sunday night it will be 216,524 miles away. That roughly 20,000 mile difference should make the Moon appear 15% greater in size (by area; 7% larger across) and 16% brighter than average.

Click on image to zoom in.

Click on image to zoom in.

Will you notice much of a difference? Probably not, but you may notice a little bit of a change. Despite only a subtle difference, it should be a good night to get the family out and gaze at the Moon, especially with a telescope, and think and talk about how the Moon plays a role in our night sky. It should be a special sight to take in!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 10, 2016
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Back to “real” November weather this week

November 8, 2016: Greetings on Election Day! Rockford saw an interesting milestone this afternoon. Meteorologist Morgan Kolkmeyer dug up this little nugget: We saw the warmest Election Day in Rockford in 40 years! It hasn’t been this warm on Election Day since Jimmy Carter was elected president. Temperatures are nearly 10 degrees above average today.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

It’ll be back to “reality” this week with cooler weather blowing in tonight. While we will remain above average, temperatures on average will be ten degrees cooler than what we’ve seen lately. The first week of November was gorgeous and warm; we’ll be comfortably cool the rest of this week.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

The upcoming nights, though, will be chilly. We haven’t seen a ton of 30 degrees nights so far this fall; in fact, we’ve only had half the usual amount of 30 degree nights so far.  We’ll get a whole bunch of them this week.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

Following up on a post from earlier, the next few chilly nights should help us set a record with the latest first freeze of the fall. We’ve already broken the record, so now it’s about when we’ll finally set that record. Look for sub-freezing temperatures by Friday night, passing the previous record by a week!

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

CLICK ON IMAGE TO ZOOM IN.

Enjoy the cooler weather finally arriving; it is November after all!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 8, 2016
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Winter Outlook 2016

November 4th, 2016: It’s that time of year again. We are getting into the last month of fall, so a big question on a lot of your minds may be “what’s winter going to bring?”.

Last year, we had an intense El Niño set up in the Pacific, bringing the 4th warmest winter on record to the area. It will be hard to top that, especially when conditions may do the opposite.

Instead of a very strong El Niño, a weak La Niña looks to form in the Pacific Ocean. This means cooler waters near South America (the opposite of El Niño), giving us a slightly harsher winter (especially compared to last year!).

A typical La Niña winter for us usually means cold and/or wet. Because this La Niña may be weak or almost nonexistent, the impacts may not be as harsh, but we’ll see some influences.

For temperatures, the Climate Prediction Center’s outlook shows colder than average weather to our north and northwest, with near average temperatures for us. So far, so good!

Click on the image to zoom in.

Click on the image to zoom in.

As for snowfall, we may be seeing more than we usually get. In this setup, the polar jet stream is more active over us, bringing in more chances for snow, but it does keep the colder weather away.

Click on the image to zoom in.

Click on the image to zoom in.

What’s average for us during the winter? The temperature average over the whole winter is around 29°, which amounts to highs in the 30’s and lows in the teens, on average. The season total for snowfall is usually 29″.

Click on the image to zoom in.

Click on the image to zoom in.

All in all, the going forecast means 30’s for highs, teens for lows, and more than 30″ of snow. Remember, this may still change! We have to see just how strong that La Niña ends up being, as it’s struggling to get going. Stay tuned!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 4, 2016
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