Topsy-turvy Temperatures

June 17, 2016:

You know what they say about Midwest weather…wait a few seconds/minutes/hours/days, and it’ll change!

Earlier this week we went from 90° on Wednesday to 75° on Thursday, then jumped back to the mid-80’s today, with the 90’s coming this weekend. The big temperature swings aren’t over yet.

Cold Blast

First, the heat this weekend- the jet stream will be arching well into Canada, allowing the hot weather to build northward, which started today. We also will see our “window” to the Gulf of Mexico open again, providing a spike in the humidity again. By Sunday, it’ll feel like the mid-90’s when you factor in the muggy air.

Cold Blast 2

Starting Monday, the jet stream takes a tumble south of us, allowing cooler, drier Canadian air to spill into the region. So again, we’ll go from the 90’s for a few days, to the 70’s for a few days.

You might be thinking: don’t we usually get nasty weather when changing from one temperature extreme to another? We had weather like that Tuesday night when the heat and humidity came blasting in for Wednesday.  That may not be the case Monday evening when the cooler air arrives. First, we won’t have great wind shear. We need that to get the storms to spin a little, which helps severe thunderstorms to form. We may get another round of heavy to torrential rain, however. Those high dew points means there’s a lot of moisture that can get squeezed out of the air, so beware that Monday could bring a lot of rain, like last Tuesday night.

Billboard 4

You also may be thinking: when will the big swings in temperatures stop? It may take a while. The jet stream looks pretty wavy through the end of the month, which means more of the back-and-forth between the 70’s and the 90’s. Looking beyond that gets a little murky, but we may be seeing more of these swings back and forth into July, but not as sudden, meaning longer stretches of one end or the other before changing back and forth.

Heat Check

For those keeping track, we’ve had 4 days in the 90’s so far, with another 1 to 3 coming between Saturday and Monday. We usually see around 15 days of the 90’s during a typical summer, so we could potentially be at the half way point of our average amount by next week, and it’s only June!

Stay cool this weekend, and remember, cooler weather is only a few days away if you aren’t a fan of the heat!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 17, 2016
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Hot (and Stormy) Weekend

June 10, 2016: We made it! This afternoon was our first day in the 90’s for 2016. With above average temperatures forecasted for this summer, there’s a good chances we’ll see at least several more days like today.

DMA High Temperatures


Having the 90’s pretty early in June almost puts us in record territory.  We weren’t too far away from the record high today (98° set in 1933), and we’ll likely be a handful of degrees away from the record tomorrow.

Billboard 3

What might fall is the record for the overnight low.  Tonight’s forecast has us potentially tying the record, at the least.  That does mean we’ll be off to a very warm start tomorrow, and the day will feel worse than today, mostly due to higher humidity and less of a breeze.  The heat index (or “feel’s like” conditions) will be near 100°, so make sure to follow the safety tips that you likely have stashed away in your brain for days like these:

-Drink lot’s of water! Sports drinks help, but they can be pretty sugary.  Water intake is the best way to go.

-Take it easy! You can still get outside and enjoy the heat, but take plenty of breaks, especially in a cool or air conditioned place.  This will give your body a break from fighting off the heat, so you don’t suffer from heat exhaustion or heat stroke.

-If you do have to do something strenuous or exercise outdoors, do it early in the day before the heat sets in (usually before 10) or in the evening when the heat is dying down.

-Loose, light colored clothing helps ward off the heat as well.

-Don’t forget about your pets! Give them plenty of water and shade if they have to be outside, or bring them in as much as possible to give them a break from the heat. Also, never leave your pet in a locked car in the heat!

The heat and humidity will charge up the atmosphere, so we’ll have to watch out for thunderstorms Saturday evening as a front moves through. While the wind shear isn’t great, we may still see a few storms capable of producing large hail.




The storms will be scattered, so not all areas may see intense thunderstorm activity. In addition to the hail threat, the storms may be moving slow enough to cause flooding concerns, as the high humidity can help set up heavy rainfall.





Stick with the 13 Weather Authority during the day tomorrow on, and we’ll keep you updated on the heat and the threat for storms. The weather will cool down plenty by Sunday after the cold front passes.

Stay cool, and have a great weekend!

– Alex


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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 10, 2016
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Bring on the heat!

June 6, 2016: The weather may be cooling off a little for June 7, but by Friday (June 10), the weather may be a good 20° warmer!

alex headlines

Yes, we are looking at our first crack at 90° days in 2016. A quick look back at the last 2 years shows we haven’t had a ton of these hot days the last few summers. 2015 had nearly the average amount, and 2014 was very cool with only 2 days in the 90’s. 2 days!

Part of this may be due to El Niño or La Niña.  The last few summers coming out of a La Niña winter, we’ve been lacking in the 90° department, and 2014 was one of those cases (the 2013-2014 winter was a La Niña winter, so the following Summer 2014 was cool). Last year was a neutral year (“normal” or a very weak El Niño/La Niña), so we had our typical amount of the 90’s. Now that we are leaving a very strong El Niño from this last winter, we may be in for plenty of 90° days this summer.

Cold Blast

Jet stream pattern for Tuesday


Looking short term, this is how the week will be shaking out.  We will see the jet stream dip to the south of us for Tuesday into Wednesday, allowing some cooler air to spill in for the time being. During this time, a strong ridge is forming well up into Canada on the West Coast, allowing heat to build northward and give those areas a blast of hot summer weather.

Cold Blast2

Jet stream pattern by Friday

That ridge transitions east by Friday, allowing hot air to flood the Midwest, and provide possibly a few days in the 90’s. Also during this time, we’ll see moisture get directed into our region, making the weather not only hot but muggy too.  The “feel’s like” conditions with the heat and humidity combined may be in the upper 90’s by Saturday, so get the fans, A/C, and slip-and-slide ready for the weekend; it’ll be a hot one!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 6, 2016
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Looking ahead at June

June 1, 2016: Yesterday I wrote a quick blurb about how the summer weather may pan out (link:, so now that we are kicking off the month of June, here’s a look ahead at how the month may shape up, at least to the Climate Prediction Center:

One Month Outlook

Click on image to zoom in.

Warm to hot conditions are likely in the West (and especially the Pacific Northwest) as well as for the Deep South and Florida.  It may be a cool start to summer for the Great Plains states in into Texas. For our area, we should be near average.  There may be some hot and cool days sprinkled in, but overall the weather will average out to be in the low 80’s most days.

One Month Outlook2

Click on image to zoom in.

The precipitation outlook is pretty interesting. First, above average rainfall is likely for a good portion of Texas, and especially around Houston. The city was hit very hard recently with flash flooding, so a wet month there doesn’t sound good. Secondly, just to the south of the Stateline, is a bull’s-eye for drier than average weather for central and southern Illinois, in addition to a lot of Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee. We’ll have to see just how close the drier than usual weather area gets to us, and if we’ll feel any effects as well.

Looking at the overall picture: if this summer is supposed to be warmer than average, then we may be easing into the heat, if this month is supposed to be near average. July and August may end up being hotter than usual, so June could give us a little time before the heat really sets in.

Keep this outlook in the back of your mind, and we’ll revisit it at the end of the month and see how the forecast compares to reality.



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 1, 2016
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Summer 2016 Outlook

May 31, 2016: Here comes Summer 2016! Well, at least “meteorological summer” starts June 1st. It is looking likely that we’ll have a warmer to hot summer ahead.

Billboard 3

First, we’ve been on a hot streak leading up to the start of summer. Today marked the 11th day in a row in the 80’s, which is a rare streak for May. In fact, this is the 4th longest stretch of 80’s that we’ve seen in May. The streak ends today, since the month is ending.

Looking ahead to the summer months, we may be in for a pretty warm summer. Overall, we are transitioning from El Niño to La Niña. This has bigger implications during our winters (a La Niña this winter may mean colder than average conditions), but during the change to La Niña during the summer usually means hot weather is ahead.

The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for the summer months (June, July, August) looks like this:

Summer Outlook2

Much of the West Coast, and sections of the Northeast are looking likely to have a hot summer. Much of the East, including sections of Wisconsin and northeast Illinois, will likely have warmer than average weather. This means plenty of warm days in the upper 80’s to possibly plenty of 90° days, but still some cool days and not too many unbearable hot stretches.

Summer Outlook

The weather pattern also looks to keep us near average for rainfall, but it could be a wet summer for much of Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. New England also looks to be wetter than usual.

Remember, this is an average of all 3 summer months, so in total we should be warm to hot this summer, but day-to-day and month-to-month may vary a little with cool or wet weather or both popping up from time to time.

Get ready to bring on the heat! Cheers to summer!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 31, 2016
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Why so stormy?

May 25, 2016: Scattered showers and thunderstorms do not seem to want to leave the forecast, with chances for rain nearly every day into next week. As we’ve seen, this doesn’t mean rain all day. However, we are seeing spotty thunderstorms become more frequent the later into the week we get.  This trend carries on into next week, meaning you may be dodging raindrops as late as next Wednesday.

So why are we seeing so many chances for rain, and why can’t the forecast be a little more concise on when the rain arrives? Here’s the overall pattern:

WREX 2016The jet stream will be in a similar pattern almost all week and into the weekend.  You can see the jet stream cutting right across the Midwest, which helps direct subtle waves of energy into our region. These waves help trigger storms if conditions are right. We’ll see plenty of these “triggers” slide by, giving us plenty of chances for rain as a result.

The one issue, is that these subtle waves or “triggers” are a little difficult to track when and where they show up, providing a lot of uncertainty to the forecast. That’s why we have broad chances for rain, rather than pinpoint time frames. The forecast does usually get clearer the closer we get to the rain showing up.

WREX 2016 2

Helping fuel the extra rain chances is the much warmer, muggy air that started to set up today.  With humid, warm air, storms are a little more likely to form, plus we have higher chances for heavier rain with the extra moisture in the air.

The good news is that the end of the holiday weekend may be a little quieter, as that broad, unsettled weather pattern begins to break down.

– Alex


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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 25, 2016
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Once in a blue moon!

May 20th, 2016: It doesn’t happen too often, but we have a blue moon coming Saturday night!

No, the moon won’t be blue (how cool would that be?!), but it is a special event. A blue moon is essentially an “extra” full moon. It has a few definitions though.


A blue moon is considered: a) the 2nd full moon of the month (a month typically has only one full moon), OR b) the 3rd full moon in a season with 4 full moons (a season typically has 3 full moons, since we have 3 months per season). The second definition is considered the “older” or “more historical” definition, but either apply.


This weekend features the 2nd type of blue moon.  This will be the 3rd of 4 full moons this spring.  Making this “rare” full moon a little more special is a visit from a friend: Mars! If you go out Saturday night and look at the full moon, you’ll see a red-looking bright “star” near the full moon.  That isn’t a star, however, it’s Mars!  Mars is at its closest to Earth in its orbit, which is why it will be bright in our sky.  If you have a telescope, you’ll be able to see some features of Mars, so get out and enjoy the night sky!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 20, 2016
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Thirsty lawns

May 18th, 2016: After a rainy week last week (at least 1 1/2″ of rain each night from last Monday to last Friday), we have almost the complete opposite this week: dry weather is in the forecast through next Tuesday. By this point, many of you have a garden or outdoor plants started, plus you are keeping up with keeping your lawn nice and green. This is a good time to get into good habits before the summer starts.

lawn tips

A healthy lawn needs around 1″ of rain or water per week during the spring and summer. Before you drag out the sprinklers, first: make sure to the forecast! If there’s rain coming, hold off on the watering until you see how much rain is coming. 1/2″ in the forecast? Then you only need to add 1/2″ of water to your lawn to help it out.  You can keep track on how much you have watered by putting a container like a coffee can marked to 1″ (or less, if there’s rain in the forecast). Once the water in the can gets to that 1″ mark, turn off the sprinklers and you’re done!

water in the morning

Best time to do this? Early in the morning.  Waiting until later in the day means the sun is more intense, evaporating a lot of the water as it tries to soak in. This means you have to add more water than you need to the lawn, which hurts the environment and your wallet!  You should also add water to the lawn all at once.  Watering a little at a time promotes shallow roots in the grass, which isn’t the best for your lawn.

Remember- if it gets really dry for a while this summer, it’s ok to let your lawn go dormant for a while! It might look a little brown, but it will bounce back once wet weather returns to the forecast. Your lawn won’t be harmed, plus you’ll save a little money by not trying to keep up each week.

– Alex


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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 18, 2016
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When will we be free of frost?

May 17, 2016: We are getting close to the time of year when frost is no longer an issue, but we aren’t quite there yet.  Patchy frost may pop up again across the Stateline tonight.

Billboard 3

You may be asking yourself: “Wait a minute. How can we see frost without getting down to freezing?”  Here’s how:

Frost While Above Freezing

As the ground cools, the heat that leaves the ground floats upward to where thermometers usually are hanging. Since this is around 5 feet off of the ground, our air temperature readings measure a few degrees warmer than the ground temperature (and we have this setup because we care more about how warm the air is at our torso level than right at the ground.  How often are you lying right on the ground, that you would need the ground temperature?).

Those few degrees make a difference if we are close to freezing, resulting in frost even though the air temperature is still closer to 40°.

When will we be done with these chilly nights? Very soon! The forecast for the rest of the week has temperatures climbing into the 70’s and 80’s for highs, so our lows will climb into the 50’s. I also did a little research, just to see when our last night with 40° or colder is for the season, on average.  I found, in a typical year, that after May 21st, we usually are free of the frosty nights (we stay above 40° for the low temperature). We’ll pass that date over the weekend.

This summer should be above average for temperature, so the worst-case scenario shouldn’t happen, but just for fun, guess when the latest date we’ve ever had in Rockford with lows still below 40°? June 21, 1992! That is right around the start of summer! Can you imagine still having frost possible until the 1st day of the summer season?  We shouldn’t (hopefully) have to worry about that this year!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 17, 2016
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Project: Tornado- Put your severe weather plan in place

May 13, 2016- So far this “severe weather season”, it’s been pretty quiet.  There were a few stronger storms earlier this week, but we haven’t seen much for severe weather.  You should be ready no matter what, which is why our Project: Tornado initiative is out talking to kids through next week, to help them understand the importance of having a severe weather plan.

Is your severe weather plan ready to go?

Here’s a couple handy reminders (or tips to help you get started):

1) Know where to go: this starts at home, but also know where to go at work, school, etc. That location definitely will change from place to place.

-Pick an interior room (one that’s away from the outside walls and away from windows) that’s on the lowest level. Preferably, this is a basement, but it could be a closet or a bathroom (as long as there aren’t any windows!). Everyone should know where this place is and know that this is the “safe spot” to go to during severe weather.

-It may be handy to stock this room or area with bottles of water, a first aid kit, heavy blankets, sturdy shoes or boots, and maybe even bike helmets to help protect you from flying or falling objects.  You may even want to have a list of emergency contacts and insurance information in this area or kit too!

2) Have as many ways to get severe weather alerts as possible. This may be the TV or radio leading up to and during severe weather. You can also stream this coverage on a laptop or tablet (though make sure you can still get to the internet in case the power and Wi-Fi go out). A weather radio is a great tool to have; this will make a loud noise to notify you of a warning, read you the warning information, plus it works when the power goes out.  Having weather alerts via text or a weather app is great to have too. Finally, the outdoor warning sirens are great if you are outside.  You may not hear them over the sound of the storm or whatever is going on in your house (or while you are asleep) so don’t totally rely on them!

3) Know how to get in touch.  This may be different from friend to friend or family member to family member.  They should know how to best get a hold of you during or after an emergency, and vice versa. Sometimes sending a text may be better than trying to call. Get a system set up, so your family and friends can quickly find out if you are safe, or need help.

4) You should also have a “meet-up” spot, in case anyone gets separated during a severe weather event.

Much like you may practice a fire drill at home, practice or talk about your severe weather plan, so everyone knows it and has it fresh in their mind.  Don’t forget- severe weather can happen at any time of the year, so keep up-to-date on the weather forecast!

If you have any questions about where to go or what to do when setting up your severe weather plan, sending a message to us via email at or message us on Facebook on the 13 Weather Authority page!  I’ll write more about severe weather preparation next week.


Facebook: Meteorologist Alex Kirchner

Twitter: @AKirchner13



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 13, 2016
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