Project: Tornado sign-up has begun

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Attention teachers and principals: it is that time of year again! We want to come to your school!

Every year, WREX puts together an extensive education campaign called “Project: Tornado.”

The premise is simple: each school day for an entire month, the 13 Weather Authority team will speak to children about the power of severe weather. Our visits in gymnasiums and auditoriums are complete with interactive demonstrations, documentary video produced here at WREX, and ending with a question and answer session. Every student will go home with a full-color booklet so the information is shared with family and friends. Best part? It’s a free service of WREX!

We are very proud to have seen 40,000+ students complete our course in the past eight years. If you’re interested in our program, click here.

To sign your school up for Project: Tornado, click here. Make sure to include your preferred time slot when you choose your 1st and 2nd choices on the date!

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 10, 2015
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Spring Fling

March 9, 2015: Over the weekend, it seemed like as we sprung forward an hour for Daylight Saving Time, we sprung forward from winter into spring! Today was the 3rd day in a row with the afternoon high at or above 40°; this is the first time since a very mild Christmas 2014 that we’ve had warm weather like this for 3 days in a row.

The satellite and radar image for Monday evening with the jet stream drawn in.

The satellite and radar image for Monday evening with the jet stream drawn in.

The actual changes occurred high in the atmosphere at the jet stream level. The strong polar jet that dictates a lot of the weather across the nation has retreated northward, bottling up the colder Canadian and polar air. The polar jet stream winds are more westerly now too, allowing milder air to rush in from the Pacific; lately we’ve had more northwesterly winds, directing cold, Canadian air into the Midwest. The weaker subtropical jet stream is also contributing some by directing warmer air northward.

High temperatures for Monday, March 9

High temperatures for Monday, March 9

You can see, now that the polar jet is closer to the U.S./Canada border, that much milder air is able to spread across the U.S., giving us a feeling of spring today!  This pattern should last at least through this week, giving us plenty of time to thaw out, literally and figuratively.

Enjoy the weather this week!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 9, 2015
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Spring Weather

Finally after several harsh weeks with temperatures well below average, spring fever is here! After setting a record low just one week ago where we saw early morning temperatures reach -16°, we actually got above average today with a high temperature of 43°.3-7

 

The good news is these temperatures are looking like they will be sticking around for the next week. There will be a ridge moving into the Midwest in a couple days which will help bring some warmer temperatures to the Stateline. Hope everyone gets ready to bring the shorts out pretty soon because I know I am!

-Nick

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 7, 2015
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Thinking Spring (Severe Weather Part 2)

March 6, 2015: With all the talk about spring weather returning to the Stateline next week (50’s possible by next Tuesday!), remember the spring severe weather isn’t too far away either.  With this week being Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois, start reviewing your severe weather procedures and severe weather facts:

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When it comes to thunderstorms, remember that they are all dangerous. Besides the damaging wind gusts, hail, and flooding rains that the strongest thunderstorms can bring, lightning is a threat with all thunderstorms.  If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck (lightning can strike up to 10 miles outside of a t-storm!). Head indoors or into a closed, hard-top vehicle, and wait 30 minute after the storm has passed to go outside again.  There is no safe place outdoors in a thunderstorm.

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Flash flooding often kills more people nationwide than any other storm threat. The biggest mistake people make is trying to drive through flooded roads. It only takes 2 feet of water to float an SUV off of the road, so find a different route!

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Finally, know where you have to go during a tornado: in your house, at your work place, etc. You may have very little time to get to shelter before a tornado strikes, so once you hear a warning, get to that shelter.

With all severe weather threats, do not stand around or go out to look at the storm.  Wait until after the storm passes to get picture and video.  It is better to be safe and unharmed than injured while trying to get a glimpse or shot of the storm.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 6, 2015
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El Niño!

March 5, 2015: Announced today by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an El Niño event emerged in February, and may persist through this spring and summer.

As exciting as that may sound, this event doesn’t really do much of anything for us here in the Stateline, or in the U.S. in general. First off, this El Niño event is a weak one, for now.

Capture

Sea surface temperature anomalies. The area circled in red shows where the above normal ocean temperatures are, indicative of an El Niño event. [Click on the map to enlarge]. Map courtesy of NOAA.

Sea surface temperatures have only been 0.5° C to 1.0° C above average, which isn’t too warm, but warm enough to classify as an El Niño.  That means the effects caused by El Niño will not be that great.

Also, the timing is a little unusual.  This El Niño event is emerging as we head into spring, so the usual effects that it has on North American winters (cool and wet in the South, warmer and dry in the Stateline) won’t be felt.

Effects of an El Niño event during the summer months. Map courtesy of NOAA

Effects of an El Niño event during the summer months. [Click on the map to enlarge]. Map courtesy of NOAA.

As you can see on the map, this spring/summer event (if it persists that long) will have effects in other spots on the globe.  The one effect it may have, if El Niño lasts into the summer, would be to quiet down the Atlantic hurricane season, and ramp up the Pacific hurricane season, much like we saw last summer.  Monster storms exploded all of the Pacific, while barely anything happened in the Atlantic.

Global temperatures do go up during El Niño events, so could we be seeing a lot of very warm weather this spring and summer? We’ll have to wait and see!

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 5, 2015
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Thinking Spring (Severe Weather)

March 4, 2015: We won’t have to worry about severe weather in the near future, but now is a good time to start thinking about it.  This week is Severe Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois.  As part of preparing for severe weather, many of you may have heard the tornado sirens in your community yesterday.  The state of Illinois conducts the drill as a dress rehearsal to get ready for any real event later this year.

Why so early, especially since yesterday we were dealing with freezing rain and snow, and today and tomorrow feature record-setting cold? If you haven’t heard yet, 50-degree weather returns next week. That’s how volatile the month of March can be. Plus, it is best if you have your plan in place well ahead of severe weather striking, so you are not caught unawares, since severe weather can strike fast.

1Overall, start going over where you need to go for shelter at home, at work, etc., and review that plan with your loved ones.  This plan may change depending on your location.  Make sure you check out all your ways of staying updated during severe weather to see if they are in working order. 2Do you have a NOAA weather radio? Are you signed up for text alerts ( you can sign up here: http://www.wrex.com/Global/link.asp?L=410454 ), or have a weather app? Don’t rely on just one source, especially only the sirens.  While the tornado sirens are a good resource to have, they were designed and meant only for people outside, and you have to be within earshot of one!

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Finally, a couple quick terms for review; you probably already know these, but just in case, remember: a watch is when conditions are right for severe weather, but severe weather is not occurring yet. Stay alert! A warning means that severe weather is happening or will strike soon. Take action!

Check back in with the 13 Weather Authority Blog later this week.  We’ll be going over a quick refresher on tornadoes, thunderstorms, and flash floods.  Stay tuned!

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 4, 2015
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February’s over, but the Arctic cold doesn’t want to leave…

March 3, 2015: It is starting to feel like a broken record around here – we’ve had at least one day in the teens each week since the beginning of February. Arctic air keeps spilling into the Stateline, keeping conditions quite chilly around here.  This week will be no exception.

Wednesday and Thursday will be this week’s turn at having highs in the teens. Both days will be in near record-breaking territory, though Thursday may be the only realistic chance to set a new record.

Wednesday's and Thursday's record cold high temperatures

Wednesday’s and Thursday’s record cold high temperatures

Good news – after shivering through the next two days, an extended warming trend kicks in, putting us near average this weekend, and even above average next week!

The Climate Prediction Center's outlook for next week. Temperatures are expected to be above average (50's possible).

The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for next week. Temperatures are expected to be above average (50’s possible).

Stay warm – we only have a few days before relief arrives!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 3, 2015
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Wintry mix hits Stateline tomorrow

March 2, 2015: A complex winter storm will hit the Stateline very early Tuesday morning and provide a variety of precipitation, making roads slippery during the morning commute.  A Winter Weather Advisory will be in effect, highlighting when the icy precipitation will occur (3 AM to noon Tuesday).

Tuesday's Winter Weather Advisory

Tuesday’s Winter Weather Advisory

A warm front will help generate the precipitation, and as the air becomes increasingly warmer with the new air mass pushing in, the precipitation type will change throughout the day.

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Futuretrack for early Tuesday morning

Basically, the further south you go, the more warm air will be available above the ground to generate sleet and freezing rain.

precipitation

Precipitation will change from snow to freezing rain the farther south you go tomorrow, as you are getting closer to the warm front.

As a result, the snow forecast drops off from north to south. North of I-88 will see the most snow, while south of I-80 will see the most freezing rain and sleet. In between is where the most mixing of precipitation types will occur.

snow forecast

Precipitation changes from snow to freezing rain the father south you go, resulting in less snow but more ice.

Regardless of what’s falling tomorrow, allow extra time to get to your destination.  That means you can drive slower, increasing stopping time and distance between vehicles and avoiding any issues on the slick roads. This may mean leaving home earlier than usual or arriving to work or school later than usual, so plan accordingly.

Allow extra time to reach your destination.

Allow extra time to reach your destination.

By Tuesday afternoon, most of the frozen precipitation will be over, with rain either mixing in or completely taking over. Watch out for icy and slushy spots, but conditions should improve through the afternoon.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 2, 2015
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February and Winter wrap-up

March 1, 2015: Welcome to March, and meteorological spring! For climate record purposes, the meteorological seasons start at the beginning of the month, to keep things more consistent each year (the start of the astronomical seasons can change date from year-to-year).  In this case, meteorological winter starts on December 1 and lasts until February 28 (or the 29th in leap years).

Thank goodness February is over, by the way. Overall, last month was the 2nd coldest February on record!  The average temperature was 12.1 degrees, which was 13.8 degree below average.  The only category we were above average in for February was snowfall.

Ranking of the coldest Februarys on record

Ranking of the coldest Februarys on record

A wrap-up of February 2015

A wrap-up of February 2015

We also set numerous daily records, especially at the end of the month when there were 5 records set or tied in a row.

List of records set or tied in February

List of records set or tied in February

As for the winter season as a whole, we were a little below average in all categories except for snow. Snowfall was well below average by nearly a half a foot.

A wrap-up of meteorological winter

A wrap-up of meteorological winter

While we are not out of the woods yet for harsh cold and snow, we have passed another hurdle toward consistent warmer weather and less snow!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 1, 2015
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Record round-up

February 27, 2015: This latest Arctic blast will be memorable, now that we are in the record books for the chilly weather. We set two records last night:

holiday travel

Last night was a two-fer: We cooled off to -8 by midnight to set the record low for Feb. 26, then kept cooling to -15 to tie today’s record low.

Temperatures only recovered to the low teens, so another record was broken:

slide 2

2014 was the 3rd coldest February on record, but we haven’t seen too many records from 2014 pop up, at least until today.

We may set one more tonight as temperatures drop below zero. This would be the record low for Feb. 28th.

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After this weekend, we get a break for a few days as highs rise to near 30, then almost for 40 by Tuesday.  After that, yet another wave of Arctic air sends temperatures tumbling into the teens.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on February 27, 2015
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