Wet, Windy Wednesday

April 4, 2017: We get to see all that spring weather can offer (minus severe thunderstorms) in one storm system! The next storm hits Wednesday morning and lasts through Thursday, and looks to provide drenching rainfall, strong winds, and a little snow.

The wet weather starts off Wednesday morning with heavy rainfall, and we’ll primarily see rain through this storm. However, from time to time, snow showers will mix in or completely take over for a while. The storm may struggle to produce snow in the late morning, but that will be one of the windows for snowfall.

The other window looks to be more “open”, occurring during Wednesday night when conditions are a little cooler. This is when we may see the snow stick a little and accumulate on the lawns and fields in the area. Roads look to be just a bit too warm for the snow to pile up.

This storm is interesting in that it will have to produce its own cold air to create snow. The system happens to be powerful enough to do this. It will produce enough “lift” through the atmosphere to cool the clouds off, producing snow rather than rain. The heavier snowfall rates will also help the snow reach the ground and pile up faster than the warm surface air and warm ground can melt it. Unlike in the winter, this storm as A LOT of moisture to work with; typically winter storms have to deal with much drier air, as we all know how dry the winters can be on our skin.

On the flip side, all of the warmer air in place will help counteract a lot of this snow, which is why accumulations may only get to 1″. Most of the rest of the time, the snow is melting before it gets to the ground (falling as rain), or melting and not accumulating because of the warmer conditions. The strong lift through the atmosphere is key too; if that doesn’t pan out, no or very little snow will fall.

Regardless of how much snow we may see, 1″ to 2″ or more of rain is possible, which may cause some minor flooding and ponding of water on the roads. Drive carefully tomorrow! Lots of water will be all over the Stateline, between rain and melting snow!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on April 4, 2017
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Record rainfall

March 30, 2017: Just a few days ago, we were talking about how we could use a little rain to get back above average for the spring. The rain happened!

Rockford’s total so far will be recording breaking, at least for March 30th. March 30th’s record for rainfall was 0.99″ set in 1960. Today’s rain total reached 1.47″, with a lot of that coming during the morning.

Many locations saw over 2″ of rainfall, causing some minor flooding on roads, in small streams and rivers, and in fields across the Stateline. The ground was soaked to the point where it couldn’t hold any more water (saturated), and so runoff onto roads and streams occurred. Thankfully, as the weather dried up a little in the evening, the roads are back to normal.

Why were we so waterlogged with today’s showers? Check out the dew point temperatures across the region.

These are a good measure of how much moisture is in the air. Dew points were in the 60’s in central Illinois, which is very high for this time of year! Normally we are closer to the 30’s, like what was seen in Rockford this afternoon. With the air soaking with moisture, today’s showers could be efficient rain producers, and the results showed.

The rain looks to end by mid-morning Friday, with a bright start to the weekend ahead- we could use it to dry out! So much for March going out like a lamb…

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 30, 2017
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Yep, More Spring Showers

March 28, 2017: We just had a fairly rainy weekend, yet believe it or not, we could use a little more rain in the area.

Despite seeing over 1/2″ of rainfall for much of the Stateline, we are below average so far this month and so far this spring.

The reason why? Despite being snowier than the last few months, this past weekend was our first real rain of the season. Snow doesn’t hold as much moisture, so we overall are behind schedule for liquid precipitation (vs frozen).

There is still plenty of springtime to go to make up for the deficit. This week gives us more chances for spring showers.

Futuretrack shows the rain arriving tomorrow evening, mostly in the form of lighter showers.

As an area of low pressure pushes closer, we may get a few downpours or thundershowers Thursday morning. Rain looks to stick with us for much of Thursday in an on/off fashion, similar to what we saw on Saturday. This may get us closer to average by the end of the week.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 28, 2017
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Weekend forecast and spring storm thoughts

March 17, 2017: Say goodbye to winter for a while! Spring temperatures are here to stay through at least next week, which bodes well for the weekend forecast. A cold front will slide through Friday night, which means conditions won’t be as warm as Friday, but they will still be comfortable for this time of year.

Radar valid 8 PM Friday (March 17, 2017). A cold front cools things off for the weekend.

Highs on Saturday will be right on average for mid-March, with Sunday looking gorgeous.

Weekend forecast valid March 17, 2017

Sunday night is starting to look interesting. Another cold front approaches from the northwest, triggering showers and possibly a few thunderstorms for Sunday night.

Forecast for Sunday night, valid March 17, 2017

There’s enough energy building up that strong to severe thunderstorms are possible. Large hail would be the main threat if they do brew up. Most of those should stay in Iowa, but a few could bleed over into northern Illinois during the night.

Storm threats for Sunday night

While the risk is pretty low for severe weather Sunday night, park the car and move anything else outside into the garage, just in case! Have a great weekend!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 17, 2017
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Lake Effect Snow In Action

March 14, 2017: Lake effect snow was the driving force behind last night’s snowfall, and all of the snow that fell in Chicago and southeast Wisconsin recently, resulting in some pretty impressive snow totals.Locations around Chicago saw between 5″ and 10″ of snow, while areas along the Lake Michigan coastline in Wisconsin saw between 1 ft to nearly 2ft of snow!  Snow amounts ranged between 1″ to 3″ Sunday night into Monday in Chicago, with a new 5″ to 7″ falling between Monday night and Tuesday during the lake effect portion.

Here’s a refresher on lake effect snow. You have to have cold, dry air flowing over warm, moist air.

This typically occurs over a large lake, when the air right above the lake waters is warmer and more humid than the air above it.

If the lake is big enough, there’s enough time and space to have the warm, moist air naturally rise very quickly into the cold, dry air. The bigger the temperature difference, the quicker the warmer air can rise, cool, and condense into clouds and showers. The humid lake air provides plenty of “fuel” to create snow.

At that point, you have intense snow showers forming, then falling over areas near the coastline, generally following the air flow off of the lake. These intense showers aren’t very wide, so snow amounts can jump quickly over a short area.

In this week’s example, snow amounts jumped 5″ or so only over a 15 mile span. This is especially hazardous for drivers- one minute you have clear to slightly snow roads, then next instance you can’t see because of the intense showers, and the roads become snow-covered and very slippery very quickly. Pileups can occur easily in these rapidly changing conditions.

The brief round of lake effect snow blowing in from Milwaukee Monday night added another 1″ to Rockford’s total ,bringing a lot of our area up to 4″ or more for total snowfall.

This is the most snow the area has received at one time since December.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 14, 2017
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Adding Up

March 13, 2017: The last time we had at least this much snow on the ground was December 26th. Since then, there’s barely been a dusting on the ground, with only March 4th recently breaking that stretch with 1″ reported for snow depth, which lasted only a day.

With this past winter being practically snow-less since December, any amount of snow greater than 1″ is significant. Where does this recent snow event stack up?

The numbers are still coming in, but this latest snowfall ranks 3rd among our notable snow storms of the winter. December had two storms that added up to decent amounts. December 10th-11th produced 6.3″, with December 4th’s snow storm coming in 2nd at 5.3″.

As winter begins to wind down and we get into the spring season, our snow chances start to diminish, but on average, we can see snow pop up any day through early April. The average daily amount, though, starts decreasing in about 10 days, so this may be one of the last bigger events that we see.

Don’t hold your breath yet about snow being over, however. This may not be the last time we see flakes piling up in the Stateline early this year.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 13, 2017
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Winter Weekend and Snow Thoughts

March 10, 2017: With a chill in the air, conditions feel a little more like winter again, and will stay that way throughout the weekend and into early next week. We are on the north side of the jet stream, which is giving us a little dose of colder air from Canada and the Arctic.

This will keep wind chill values in the single digits for at least another night.

Wind chill forecast for Friday night, March 10

It may look a lot like winter again by Monday. A snow storm is likely on the way for early next week.

Futuretrack model for Sunday evening, valid Friday night, March 10

Snow has been in the forecast all week, though as we get closer and closer to Monday, the picture is getting clearer. Lately, weather models have been trending the low responsible for our snow farther to the north, putting us under the heaviest portion of the forecasted snow, for now.

Futuretrack model for Monday, valid Friday night, March 10

If the storm track continues to trend northward, we may see the heaviest portion of snow staying away from us, but there hasn’t been much change in that direction yet.

Since there are a few uncertainties still, stay tuned for a more definite snow forecast over the weekend. What does look certain is a few inches of snow, over a 24-hour period, kicking in Sunday night and possibly lasting to Monday night.

Dust off the shovels!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 10, 2017
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Windy Start to the Week

March 6th, 2017: There may be a little more spring cleaning to do after the start of this week! You may be picking up a few branches when all is said and done later this week.

Why so windy? We have a deep area of low pressure moving through the region through Wednesday. The deeper the low, the stronger the winds are. The “pressure gradient”, or how much the pressure changes over an area, is tight, as in it falls quickly. This boosts the winds, giving us blustery conditions.

On top of that (literally) we have very strong winds at in the middle levels of the atmosphere. These are able to mix down toward the surface, giving us the very strong wind gusts over 40 mph. The combination of these two ingredients provides the blustery, windy days we will be seeing.

Overall, get used to wind gusts near 40 mph, and a few may approach 50 mph by Wednesday.

We should see calmer weather on Thursday once the low departs the region.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 7, 2017
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Winter 2016-2017 recap

March 2nd, 2017: Welcome to Meteorological Spring 2017! For record-keeping purposes, Winter starts on Dec. 1 and ends on Feb. 28/29. And what a winter this past one was!

We saw plenty of snow…then barely any snow. There were some cold days early…then it felt like spring for what felt like half of February.

Overall, we saw 17″ of snow, which is over a foot below average. Taking a closer look, nearly all of that fell in December! February 2017 ended up tied for 2nd least snowiest, and for a while, it was looking like we may tie for first with barely anything falling.

In fact, just today, we exceeded February’s total for snowfall in the first two days of March!

Don’t worry about being too dry, however; we had nearly 6″ of liquid precipitation (both rain and snow, if melted to its rain equivalent), which was over an inch above average.

The amount of warmth felt over the second half of the winter was pretty impressive. This of course led to conditions being too warm for snow much of the time we saw precipitation. February 2017 was the warmest for Rockford! The winter overall was the 8th warmest on record, with records going back to 1905 in this case.

Other records of note:

  • February 22nd tied the warmest winter temperature on record at 70°
  • Rockford saw the longest stretch of 60°+ days in the winter at 6 days in a row
  • That same warm streak came in 2nd for days in a row at 50°+ at 7 days
  • 5 of the top 10 warmest winter days on record came this February

Check back in on the blog soon- we’ll be taking a look ahead to March and what Meteorological Spring may have in store for us.

-Alex

 

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on March 2, 2017
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The spring-like February continues…

It wouldn’t be ‘February 2017’ if we didn’t end the month with temperatures WAY above average, right?

Today will be calm and quiet. Winds will stay around (or under) 10 mph out of the south and for the most part, we’ll see sunshine. Temperatures will top out in the lower 50s.

We’ll add to the warmth on Tuesday and we’ll ditch the quiet conditions.

An area of low pressure will push out of the Plains and into the Midwest, which will bring us a few showers late tonight and possible a few thunderstorms after midnight. These thunderstorms look non-severe but may give a few heavy downpours. We’ll likely see a few light and very widely-scattered rain showers on the first half of Tuesday.

Things get a bit more active come Tuesday afternoon and evening.

Warm and moist air surges in on Tuesday afternoon (temperatures near 60 and dew points in the 50s) with very strong winds high above us and an incoming cold front. Together, these could pop a few strong or severe thunderstorms in our area. An early, general time-frame says we should watch for those storms between 4PM and 9PM. We will narrow that time-frame as we get closer to tomorrow evening.

A Storm Outlook shows areas near Little Rock, St. Louis, and Springfield have the highest chance for severe storms. Our risk is considered low, though we’ll keep a closer eye on the areas between I-80 and north of there near I-88.

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This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on February 27, 2017
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