Worlds largest snowman?

I think it’s safe to say this snowman won’t be melting anytime soon!

Do you know how I know this snowman is so big? No, it’s not the fact the builders used a patio umbrella as a hat. It’s the fact that the girls in the photo are my nieces Stephanie and Jenna. They were on a walk over the weekend with my brother Mike in Elmhurst, Illinois.

I wonder how long its scarf is!

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This post was written by qni_it on January 26, 2009

Does this warm you up?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inIABmgkcU4&hl=en&fs=1]

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This post was written by qni_it on January 26, 2009

Keeping the storms at bay


Remember last week when there was talk of a potential winter storm in our neck of the woods? Well, there’s still going to be one… but it’s going to stay south of here!

As Eric discussed a few days ago, we look at where the “baroclinic zone” is located to help us determine winter storm tracks. That baroclinic zone typically lines up near the position of the jet stream, which is why we say that cool air is north of the jet stream, while warm air is south of it. In any event, this week’s potentially big winter storm will follow the jet stream, causing big issues for the Ohio River Valley. Locations from Little Rock to Cincinnati could be dealing with an ice storm, while cities north of there will receive some pretty good snowfall totals. The shield of snow will graze us at the most, which is why I have merely an off-chance for flurries for the first part of the week. Northwest flow will return later in the week, bringing in more Alberta Clippers… although at this time, it looks like they’ll mostly stay north of the Stateline.

Looking forward beyond the 7-Day into the first week of February, our ensemble computer models are trending toward what could be a significant warm-up across the Plains and Midwest. The image to the left is for the evening of February 5. It puts us within the +12 category. For reference, during the big arctic chill a couple weeks back, these maps had us as about -12. So… if this situation plays out – and that’s a big “if” – we’d be looking at temperatures approximately as much above average as what we were below average a couple weeks ago. As always, we’ll see how that particular situation evolves in the coming days.

Finally, lest you think I forgot, the answer to yesterday’s puzzler. Some of you did, in fact, figure out the correct answer. If you said the answer was approximately 460°F (and you didn’t cheat!), give yourself a pat on the back. To arrive at this answer, you must understand that temperature is essentially a measure of how quickly molecules in a given substance (such as air) are moving. There is only one temperature scale that measures this absolutely – the Kelvin scale. So, you would have to convert the Fahrenheit temperature to Kelvin, double the Kelvin temperature, then convert it back to Fahrenheit. This yields a decidedly scorching 459.67°F – and a very incorrect forecast. (Side note – the term “absolute zero” in terms of temperature refers to a temperature of 0K… that is, the theoretical temperature at which molecules do not move. Scientists have gotten extremely close to this value in laboratory experiments.)

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This post was written by qni_it on January 26, 2009

Still quiet


After such an active December, it’s amazing how quiet this month has felt (even if we are a few inches above normal for snow for January).

The NAM computer model keeps all measurable precipitation pretty much south of our viewing area. Any flurries that do fall shouldn’t cause any issues.

By the way, if you haven’t done so yet, try to figure out the answer to the question in the blog post right under this one! Remember… don’t tell how you came up with your answer, and no cheating (like looking on Google for the answer)!

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This post was written by qni_it on January 25, 2009

Puzzler to ponder…

If you think you’ve got the answer figured out, leave a comment but don’t explain how you arrived at your answer.

If the temperature today is 0°F and I say that tomorrow will be twice as warm, how warm will it be tomorrow?

Challenge: Don’t Google the question!!

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This post was written by qni_it on January 24, 2009

And now for something totally different

How is this even possible?

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This post was written by qni_it on January 23, 2009

I think it’s time I made an appointment with the "Baro-Clinic"

No, the Baro Clinic isn’t where Meteorologists go to get a check up!

I labeled the baroclinic zone on the map to the left. Can you figure out what’s so special about this area? Think temperature and look again. Nothing yet? Memphis, Tennessee was 64° today and Chicago was 34°. Big difference, right? Now look at Memphis versus Orlando, Florida. There’s only a five degree change there. The baroclinic zone is the place on the map where there is the biggest change in temperature within a small area. Most often these are located where cold fronts are (as in this case).

I know what you’re saying: “Big whoop. Baroclinic zone. Who cares?”

When we have developing storms in the winter they often follow this baroclinic zone. Have you ever driven down I-39 toward Bloomington in winter and noticed how you drove right out of the snow? That’s the baroclinic zone, my friend! Over the next week the baroclinic zone is going to be right over us (as there’s snow on the ground from here down to I-80 and there’s nothing down in Central Illinois). This indicates a heightened chance of some sort of snow event over the next few weeks.
If forecasting weather was that easy though. The baroclinic zone is just one of thousands of pieces that make up the forecasting puzzle. Next week may actually turn out to be a yawner.

Looking at the upper-level flow pattern next week reveals quite a bit of moisture in the southern stream. However, it doesn’t look like the southern and northern streams will phase (come together) over us. This means the moisture in the southwestern U.S. will likely stay under the southern stream of the jet and continue into the Mid-Atlantic. We still may get nicked by something up here but it appears the best dynamics will stay south of Rockford for a week or so.

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This post was written by qni_it on January 23, 2009

Bitterly Cold… Again?


WIND CHILL ADVISORIES will be running overnight for a large chunk of northwestern Illinois and southwestern Wisconsin. These advisories should be lifted by noon on Saturday. Once our skies clear out tonight, actual air temperatures will plummet to near 0°. Factor in a pesky northwest wind at 10-20 mph and that sends wind chills close to -20°.

If you are sitting in one of the non-highlighted counties, you will still feel the extreme chills but you won’t be close enough to the advisory criteria. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on January 23, 2009

Coolest newsdesk ever?

Eastern Michigan’s Channel 5 is doing something different to celebrate their area’s snow-sculpting competition. They had a newsdesk and set made completely out of snow! Here’s an excerpt from the article at WNEM.com:

An actual made-to-scale anchor desk carved in snow? It’s true. A seven-member crew from Mid-Michigan has been working since Monday constructing the frozen WNEM TV5 furniture piece for the Annual Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth. Sculptor Sam Licavoli II said it took the team roughly 70 hours to sculpt the 10 feet tall by 20 feet long by 10 feet deep block of snow.

Click here to see video from their morning show. Maybe we can do this for our snow sculpting competition next year!

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This post was written by qni_it on January 22, 2009

Plus & Minus


We are now 2/3 of the way through the month of January so I figured I would take a quick check back. We have now tallied almost a foot of snow, but less than an inch of liquid precipitation. Through 21 days, this creates a big surplus in the snow department, but a deficit on the liquid side.

Scratching your head on this one? Outside of January 4th, the majority of our storm systems have come into the region laced with a lot of cold air. This has kept the rain events down as well as minimized the heavy, wet snow situations. With such cold atmospheric conditions the snow has fluffed up rather efficiently.

For the future, merely trace amounts of snow will be seen Friday in the form of flurries. Sunday night’s snow chance appears fairly meager with most spots receiving some minor accumulations. Looking out even further, a big system could be spinning up during the middle of the work week. Half of the models are putting us in a predicament for a big snow, but the other half of the models are warming us into a mixed precipitation situation. The extended models have been flip-flopping around a lot recently, which means the forecast for the last couple of days in January is clearly up in the air. -ADAM

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This post was written by qni_it on January 22, 2009