Messy weekend ahead?

Even though temperatures have been in the 50s the past few days, we’re by no means done with winter.

While our models yesterday showed the potential for a decent rainmaker for our area, today they suggesting our atmosphere may be cool enough to produce some snow.

The fine details are hard to decipher, seeing as it’s only Tuesday and the storm system has  yet to arrive on the Pacific Coast. However, with temperatures at night around 30 both Friday night and Saturday night, there will be a chance for some freezing rain and snow. Right now, it appears we may be just warm enough to switch the daytime precip over to rain. Still, it bears watching as the GFS model is yielding about 0.76″ of liquid available. If that came in the form of all snow (around 32°), move the decimal point to the right once and we’d have around 7.6 inches of snow.

And the plot thickens!!! -ES


Posted under winter storm

This post was written by qni_it on January 31, 2012

Monday Night Earthquake

A few of you might have felt a shake late last night as a minor earthquake shook parts of northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  It was registered as a 2.4-magnitude quake that happened just before 10 p.m. last night.

 At first the earthquake was said to be located in southern Wisconsin near Lake Shangrlia.  Now the USGS says the quake happened in McHenry County just 2 miles east of the city of McHenry.

 Very light shakes were reported inChicago, Marengo and inWoodstock.


Posted under earthquake/tsunami

This post was written by qni_it on January 31, 2012

Does this mild weather signal what’s to come?

Today marks the fifth time we’ve seen 50 degree temperatures in Rockford this month.

Tomorrow’s projected 54° high will make bring our final total to six times for the month.Believe it or not, there has been only one other January with more 50 degree days and you have to go all the way back to 1933!

There have been only four Januaries with 5 or more 50° days which shows how out of the ordinary this weather has been.

On Sunday, at the parking lot of the grocery store, a man approached me and said “Eric, do you think we’ll get any more snow storms?” I told him “Yes, but the chance will be going down as we head into February.” What does February and March look like? Well, let’s take the similar Januaries (1933, 1934, and 1973) as examples.

First, let’s look at what’s typical from this point forward. Looking at the 101 year climate record, we should expect 12.23 inches of snow from here on out. But that’s what’s normal. We know that this winter has NOT been that way.

February and March 1973: 7.8″ of snow
February and March 1934: 3.3″ of snow
February and March 1933: 17.0″ of snow

Now, even though two out of the three years had below-average snowfall, I found one interesting thing: The snows that did fall came in bigger batches. This means that the ‘once every week’ snows don’t occur. Instead, the snows came from bigger storm systems, spread farther apart!

As far as temperatures go, it’s almost unanimous: we’ll get closer to normal for February and March. But keep in mind, our average high and low temperatures will be rising more than a degree each day beginning in the last week of February.

My take from this research is to expect more of the same. Sure, there will be bouts of cold (and even Arctic) air. And we will get some more snow…we just have to have an eye out for the random snowstorm that could come in the next six weeks! -ES

PROGRAMMING NOTE: Coming up Thursday, we’ll take a close look at the Groundhog’s Day Blizzard, a billion dollar disaster for the U.S. I hope you’ll join us as we sit down with WGN Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling to see how this compared to the biggest snows he remembers and Ed Fenelon, Meteorologist in Charge of the National Weather Service, as recalls the efforts by forecasters. A special you won’t want to miss, Thursday night at ten.



Posted under climate/climate change, snow

This post was written by qni_it on January 30, 2012

Winter 2011-2012: Snowfall Frequency

We are more than halfway through winter and nearing three weeks with at least some snow on the ground.  Some of you may think that it’s been long enough.  That’s understandable considering the slow start to winter, the above average temperatures, and below average precipitation we’ve been experiencing.  Just how frequently has it snowed in Rockford?  The answer may seem surprising.

I dug through the climatology records and found that from December 1 through January 30, there have only been 4 snowfall events where greater than 1″ of snow accumulated.  The first came on December 17 with 1.6″ and the latest (and most significant) occurred on January 20 with 5.1″ falling at Chicago Rockford International Airport.  Combined with the other two events that occurred in mid-January, a total of 12.9″ fell from just these 4 events.

This season there have been only 5 snowfall events where less than 1″ of snow accumulated in Rockford.  The very first event, ironically, occurred on the first day of meteorological winter (December 1), leading some to believe that we’d be in store for a snowy month.  The most recent events just occurred last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (January 27-29) with 0.4″, 0.1″, and 0.2″ respectively.  These five events only accumulated a total of 1.2″ of snow.  Additionally there have been about a dozen ‘Trace’ amount days, with precipitation too insignificant to count.

The statistician in me finds these next facts to be pretty interesting.  There have been only 9 days out of 61 so far this winter where snow accumulated.  This means that only 15% of winter days have had snow.  Furthermore, 4 out of those 9 days that had snowfall amounts greater than 1″ accounted for 92% (or 12.9″) of this season’s grand total to date (14.1″)!  Talk about few and far between!  -JA


Posted under 13 Climate Authority, snow, weather, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on January 30, 2012

The Mercury’s Going to Rise!

Temperatures this week will be above average.  That’s good news for those of you who’d like to see the green grass again.  The news isn’t so good for the snow sculptures at Sinnissippi Park!  A warm front is headed toward northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  It will be on our doorstep Monday morning before sunrise.  Clouds are out ahead of this front and will envelop the area.  Expect winds to shift from west to south after the front passes, and there will be breaks in the cloud cover tomorrow.  Some of that afternoon sun will help our temperatures climb into the low 40s for Monday.  Tuesday will be a few degrees warmer than Monday, with the mercury climbing to 45 degrees in Rockford.  Take a short drive south down I-39 to LaSalle/Peru and temperatures will be in the 50s!  Scattered rain showers are likely Tuesday afternoon and evening in advance of an approaching cold front.  However, there’s not a lot of moisture with this front so any rain will be light.  Temperatures will remain above average through next weekend!  -JA


Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on January 29, 2012

Snow on the Way!

A weak Alberta Clipper system will be sliding its way south into our region overnight.  Clouds are on the increase, with light snow entering the picture from the northwest.  Temperatures tonight will be in the low 20s.  Sunday will be mostly cloudy early with light snow ending before noon.  Total snowfall amounts from Saturday night into Sunday morning will be very light.  Areas along and north of the US Route 20 corridor have the best chance for any accumulation.  Most locations will only see a dusting to half an inch.  The more favored areas might pick up a bit more, but all will be under one inch since this system does not have much moisture to work with.  Clouds will be on the decrease Sunday, as well as the temperature.  An early high of 27 is expected with an overnight low of 20.  -JA


Posted under snow, weather

This post was written by qni_it on January 28, 2012

January 2012: Extremely Mild!

Even though we’re putting down a dusting of snow here now, the snow has no chance of sticking around with temperatures warming into the 40s next week.

The blue numbers represent the average high temperature for each day in January. Our observed highs (in red) have surpassed the normal in all but eight days.

We even had four days in the 50s…something that can’t be completely ruled out next week pending a little sunshine and bare ground.

Have a great weekend! -ES


Posted under climate/climate change

This post was written by qni_it on January 27, 2012

Sliding back into Spring

It looks like we get to enjoy another break from winter as we head into the month of February.  Several models indicate a nice warm up by the beginning of next week, which will last into the first couple of days in February. The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) shows well above average temperatures for the extended forecast, not just for the Midwest, but also for the entire country.  Even the 8-14 day extended forecast from the CPC shows above average temperatures from the west coast to the Midwest.  However, the GFS, which is a long-range forecast computer model, shows signs of colder air starting to push back in by the first full week of February.


Posted under heat wave, weather, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on January 27, 2012

Weekend Forecast: Snowy start, chilly finish

Earlier this week, our computer guidance suggested an all-out surge of Arctic air for the weekend with high temperatures in the single digits possible for Sunday. That was Monday. Today, the same guidance suggests highs will be in the lower to middle 20s. So it appears we’ll have just a glancing blow from the cold air.

Before that, we’ve got a quick stripe of snow (mainly for Wisconsin). This will begin in our coverage area sometime during the evening and end in the predawn hours of Saturday. Only an inch is expected with 1-3″ possible north of Madison and Milwaukee.

Then, all eyes will be on an expanding dome of warm air that will advance out of the Southern Plains early next week. Bye bye, snow!


Posted under cold blast, snow

This post was written by qni_it on January 26, 2012

As snowcover decreases, temperatures warm

Snow is melting off quickly across our region and as this happens our temperatures will moderate significantly.

Any wind out of the southwest, south, southeast, and east will be warming wind. Northeast and west wind will be fairly neutral (as snowpack in Southern Wisconsin and Eastern Iowa dwindles). So, the only way we’re going to get any bitterly cold air is with a north or northwesterly wind.

While we may put down around an inch of snow here Friday night but that will melt off or evaporate with the strong sun this weekend. Clouds, drizzle, and fog early next week will bring an end to the snowcover early next week.


Posted under weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on January 26, 2012