What a difference a year makes

On my way to work I had wandering eyes as I was trying as hard as I could to find some hint of green in the forests along US20. Nope. Didn’t see anything but brown. However, last year at this time we had plenty of green after a very mild March which led into a very warm April.

Check out the difference between our weather here the next few days vs. what happened last year at this time. No April fools here, it was 84° last year and this year we may actually have some snow! -ES

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Posted under cold blast

This post was written by qni_it on March 29, 2011

Weekend severe weather possible but still unpredictable

While our GFS model has actually been consistent on a severe weather setup Sunday night, its the European model that has been wavering a bit. The top image is the GFS’s take on Sunday evening with a large surface low over Minnesota. This would spell warm temperatures for the Stateline with other parameters (jet flow, vorticity patterns) coming into play to give a severe weather setup. On the other hand, the image below shows the low far to our south on the European model. If this becomes the case, we will still see conditions warming a bit, but should not see severe weather and snow may be likely on the back end of the system.

As for our forecast now, I will keep watching the likelihood of storms on Sunday as I am actually lending some credence to the GFS model and its added warmth.

-Aaron

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Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on March 29, 2011

The other side of the year…what’s it like?

If you think about how seasons work, there will always be two times each year that our sun is peaking at the same angle with the exception of the Summer and Winter solstices. Today’s peak sun angle is about 50.8°  near noon. This means that if 90° is directly overhead and 0° is straight toward the horizon, you would find the sun 50.8° up in the sky. This is a significant improvement from our sun angle in the middle 20°s  during the winter months, and we can feel it. Despite the cold weather we have been seeing, I have had several people tell me that it is very warm in their cars during a sunny day.

Take a look at our average high in mid September vs. now. Of course you would expect September to be warmer but miraculously, we are receiving the same exact amount of solar radiation. The fact that our sun is not only acting to warm us, but to melt snow in certain places and warm bodies of water accounts for the seasonal lag that is Spring.

In the short term, look for temperatures to finally reach above average this weekend but it will be brief with another surge of cold air by Monday.

-Aaron

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Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on March 29, 2011

The mystery behind Wisconsin’s “eye”

I’ve been looking at maps for a long time, that’s for sure. What I’ve failed to recognize on maps is the fact that Wisconsin has an “eyeball.” Check out this satellite photo from today (click to enlarge):

I’ve called upon some of my fellow colleagues for explanations. What do you think it is? My first thought was remnants of a meteor impact millions of years ago. I can’t find any facts to back that up however.

What do you think this is? Is it just a random coincidence? I’ve sent e-mails to some colleagues and will share their thoughts as I receive their takes.

From Randy Brock, Chief Meteorologist at KTTC, Rochester, MN:

The geographic circle is due to 4 boundaries that coincidentally make the ‘O’.

From the northern point, counter-clockwise: The northern to western quarter is simply the flow of the Chippewa River from near Eau Claire to Durand, WI where it drains to the Mississippi. The western to southern quarter is the Mississippi. The southern to eastern quarter is the Black River from Holmen, WI on the Mississippi to Black River Falls, WI.

What I find to be the most interesting quarter of the circle (because I’m a geek) is the eastern to northern side. The circle is within a unique geological area known as the Driftless Area. It’s unique in that it is in an area that was missed by the glaciers of the last ice age. While ice covered a huge chunk of the upper Midwest, the Driftless was almost an island surrounded by glaciers. Since the glaciers didn’t move through, there is no glacial “drift” within the Driftless region that is otherwise located throughout much of MN, WI, IA, and IL. The Driftless includes parts of southeast MN, northeast IA, a small portion of northwestern IL, and a big chunk of southwest WI.

That northeastern quarter of the circle is a small portion of the boundary of glacial drift. Highway 12 from Black River Falls, WI to Eau Claire almost perfectly denotes the stopping point of glacial drift. Within the Driftless there are many spring-fed streams in the valleys of the bluffs and no natural lakes. Outside the Driftless it is noticeably flatter, easier to farm, and there are natural lakes.

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Posted under science, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on March 28, 2011

High definition satellite view from today

Just for fun I decided to take a look at this afternoon’s high resolution satellite view of the Upper Midwest. The map to the left shows a few interesting things. First, the lakes of South-Central Wisconsin (Koshkonong, Delavan, and Geneva) have shed themselves of their winter coats: ice. Still, lakes north of Madison have ice-cover today. Lake-effect snow-producing clouds can be seen in Southeastern Wisconsin. These bands of clouds produced a dusting between Milwaukee and Kenosha early in the day.

That’s the winter side of today’s view.

Tilting the camera to the south shows us spring! Check it out, you can actually see the color go from brown to green, north to south. The green grass and leaves on the trees make Southern Illinois look much different from Northern Illinois these days.

So, while it may seem a long time until we’ll be able to see green grass and green trees, here’s proof that it is coming…and is moving north day by day! -ES

 

 

 

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Posted under weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on March 28, 2011

A little insight into our cold weather

Today’s high temperature will likely be the 7th consecutive day where we don’t meet our average in the lower 50s here in Rockford but it certainly could be worse. The top image to the left was taken about 2 hours north of here on Sunday morning. The last storm system to plow through north central Wisconsin left quite a bit of snow in the region, over a foot of accumulation in some areas! The map below shows temperatures early this morning. To the north of the red line, which denotes snow/no snow, a very cold morning was brought on by the mix of clear skies and a deep snow covered ground.

Bringing this story back home, our winds have had a northerly component for many days. When we get cold nights with lows in the single digits not too far away, a northerly conveyor transports this chilly airmass directly to the Stateline. Combining this feature with a pesky high and an unseasonably cool upper level jet, we will see these cool highs continue for the next day or two. By the end of the week, the pattern breaks and temperatures look to moderate to near normal values in the lower 50s.

-Aaron

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Posted under cold blast, snow

This post was written by qni_it on March 28, 2011

Southeast Severe Weather

Green dots are hail reports

Picture from: Fox 5 Atlanta

Severe thunderstorms swept across the Southeast producing a couple of tornadoes, damaging winds and lots of hail.  The storms pushed through Alabama and Georgia covering most towns with hails stones. Some saw stones up to the size of tennis balls.  On Saturday, softball sized hail was reported in Georgia. 

The South is set up to see another round of severe weather by Tuesday.  This is all because of the blocking high-pressure system to our North.  It is not allowing any system to push through the Midwest.  Instead, it’s pushing them South where all the heat and moisture is.  It looks like the main threat for Tuesday will be large hail and isolated tornadoes.

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Posted under severe weather

This post was written by qni_it on March 27, 2011

Earth Hour 2011

Tonight from 8:30 to 9:30 pm turn off your lights and be apart of the Earth Hour 2011!  It’s to make a statement against climate change and global warming.  Earth Hour has already started in Japan and throughout Europe.  Many big cities are going black and it can look creepy if you have no idea what is going on.  Landmarks from around the world are dark for one hour to show support.  From Sydney’s Opera House to the Eiffel Tower, more than 134 countries are to take part in this hour of darkness.  Take a look at this video of Japan going black! Earth Hour Japan

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Posted under going green

This post was written by qni_it on March 26, 2011

Double Moonbow!

In order to create a rainbow you need sunlight and rain. However, sometimes the moon is also a good source of light, especially when it’s just above the horizon and really bright. Ethan Tweedie was very lucky to have this perfect combination just a couple of nights ago.  He saw a very rare double moonbow. Here is what he experienced: “I have been trying to get an image of the illusive moonbow for a long time. This evening (March 24) on the way back from the Volcano there it was!  It was cold, windy and raining but I toughed it out.  After getting some images, the CF card failed and all the pictures were gone.  Undaunted I dug into my camera bag and pulled another card!  I had just enough time to get two pictures off before it disappeared!   Here is what I got!”

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Posted under rain, sunlight

This post was written by qni_it on March 26, 2011

Chilly weather will be slow to subside

Even though the calendar reads late March, a late February chill will keep it’s grip on the eastern half of the North American continent. A strong area of low pressure just west of Hudson Bay coupled with a low off of Newfoundland have combined to shunt a large chunk of Arctic air southward into the Great Lakes and Northeastern U.S. This has pushed the stormtrack south this week bringing rains and snows to regions south of our area.

Next week, there will be subtle changes. While the jetstream’s stormtrack will come a little further north, it won’t entirely displace the Arctic air. What we will notice is the high will shift ever so slightly to the east, moving the heart of the cold air to the eastern side of Canada. In return, a building high pressure will begin to make itself known in the Desert Southwest. Give it another week and this will likely build into a Central-Continent ridge which will warm us significantly in the second full week of April with widespread 60s and 70s likely.

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Posted under climate/climate change

This post was written by qni_it on March 25, 2011