Dense Fog Advisory

A Dense Fog Advisory is in effect for the entire viewing area until 10:00 a.m. this morning.  Areas of very dense fog developed early this morning creating poor visibility of a half mile or less at times.  Subfreezing temperatures are also causing problems.  It is allowing the moisture in the fog is freezing on contact and we have heard reports of light freezing drizzle.  This will produce slick roadways and walking surfaces, so please allow extra time during your morning commute.  Conditions will start to improve later this morning and by this afternoon, we’ll get to see a little bit of sunshine as temperatures rise into the mid and upper 30s.

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Posted under fog, weather

This post was written by qni_it on January 26, 2012

Question of the day!

Today, we had a great tour group of Cub Scouts from South Beloit tour the station. You’d think I would have an answer to any question a Cub Scout would have. Well, not tonight! Teagan asked me “Why are some satellite dishes so big and some are small?”

According to Atlantic Satellite South, a satellite company in Florida, bigger satellite dishes are needed to pick up weaker signals from lower power satellites. The advantage of low power satellites is that more programs can be broadcast and picked up. A typical satellite dish that you may use to watch TV via DirecTV or Dish Network is pretty small…usually only a foot or two in diameter. But the picture to the left is of one of our satellite dishes here at WREX that has a diameter of about thirty feet! This is one of our older dishes though. Better technology has made it possible for our newer dishes to be smaller (which are located on the roof of our building). Weather sometimes gets in the way of satellite transmission. There are times during hailstorms and severe thunderstorms that the receivers (dishes) can’t pick up the data due to big raindrops and hailstones.

Here is a diagram of how satellites transmit data and TV signals. You can read more by clicking on Atlantic Satellite South’s page right here.

 

 

 

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Posted under space, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on January 25, 2012

More Severe Storms Down South!

A powerful squall line of thunderstorms developed over Texas earlier today and continues to push east across the Mid-South this evening.  For some, this is déjà vu, as areas across Mississippi and Alabama dealt with severe thunderstorms and tornados just a couple of days ago.  This area of convective activity has produced damaging winds and torrential downpours.  As of 5:00pm, there have been reports of at least 5 tornados in far east Texas and west-central Louisiana.  Our Threatrack storm prediction tool still shows the possibility of isolated tornados developing during the overnight hours, especially in parts of Mississippi.  This includes the capital region of Jackson.  Even though daytime heating won’t be a factor, models still plot wind shear at values conducive to tornado development.  -JA

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Posted under severe weather, tornado, Wind

This post was written by qni_it on January 25, 2012

Solar Flare on Video

Unfortunately for the Rockford region, the recent cloud cover at night hampered what little chance we had to see the Aurora Borealis yesterday.  A quick Internet search will turn up the beautiful bright green and blue streaks dancing in the sky over Norway and other northern locations.  The image to the left shows a bright spot on the northeast quadrant of the sun.  That bright spot is a solar flare, which sent electrons, ions, and atoms out into space.  Often associated with a solar flare is a coronal mass ejection (CME).  A CME is a large burst of solar wind and magnetic field, projected into space.  Luckily, this latest solar storm did not effect Earth (and technology) in a major way.  Click on some of the links below to see some amazing video captured by NASA!  -JA

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=129872541

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=130014861

http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/videogallery/index.html?media_id=129883621

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Posted under space, sunlight, weather

This post was written by qni_it on January 25, 2012

Snow Accumulation for Friday?

Our next chance for snow comes in on Friday. However, the amount of snow possible is still undetermined due to the different scenarios the computer models are painting.  Many of them are showing snow for Friday with a few showing some accumulating snow.  The NAM and GFS are the two that are showing a couple inches of snow accumulation by Friday evening for northern Illinois.  The European model is showing most of the snow accumulation hitting Iowa by Friday evening and very little accumulation for our area.  For now, we have chances for snow showers in the forecast until further information is gathered, since there are so many different variations of this next winter system.

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Posted under snow, weather, winter weather

This post was written by qni_it on January 25, 2012

Northern Lights tonight? Only a small chance.

It now appears that only the northern-most states will have a potential to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) tonight, thanks to the fact that the bulk of the electromagnetic particles missed our side of the planet. According to WGN Chief Meteorologist Tom Skilling, there’s only a 25% chance of seeing it in Northern Illinois thanks to info from astronomer Dan Joyce of Triton College.

Add to this sad reality are the clouds above. These will obscure the lights here for the evening. Even though there’s a small chance to see them tonight, be on the lookout! There may just be enough holes in the clouds. And don’t fret, there’s still a chance in the next few nights of seeing them.

If you see them, be sure to let us know on our Facebook page or e-mail weather@wrex.com. -ES

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Posted under space, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on January 24, 2012

Five January Thaws?

Today’s high temperature of 32° brings to an end to our third January thaw. We’ll surge to the warm side of the freezing mark on Thursday and Friday for the 4th. The fifth January thaw will come with some pretty good melting early next week. It’s a good thing the Illinois Snow Sculpting Competition will be getting underway tomorrow because if model guidance is correct, we may have totally bare ground here in about a week’s time. -ES

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Posted under weather, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on January 24, 2012

Auroras Shine Bright!

I had to share this photo!  A strong solar storm made it to Earth on January 22, and boy did it put on a show.  Bjorn Jorgensen was in the right place at the right time and took this picture in Norway. The coronal mass ejection slammed the Earth’s magnetic field creating such bright auroras it turned the snow green.  Another storm is scheduled for today and tomorrow.  It is said to be an X-flare, which is the most powerful kind of coronal mass ejections.

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Posted under space, weather

This post was written by qni_it on January 24, 2012

Averages: Going up in two different ways

We’ve got good news to share with you this evening. On Wednesday, our average low temperature goes from 13° to 14° meaning the coldest part of the year is behind us! I’ve plotted the average high and low temperatures for the last day of every month, leading up to what should be the warmest day of the year: July 12th.

If you’re an astute watcher of Rockford weather, you could easily make an argument that our coldest average highs and lows used to be 27° and 10°, and not 30° and 13°. That is exactly true! In order to come up with climate averages, we use a thirty year sample size. This means the cold decade of the 1970s was lopped off last year…replaced with a remarkably warm decade: the 2000s. For that reason, we no longer will have an average high temperature in the 20s in the heart of winter.

Does this mean that our climate averages are going up by the same amount in the summer? Not exactly. The decade of the 2000s saw more warmth in the winter than in the summers. July’s warmest average, including the 1970s was 83° and 63°. Our new warmest climate average with the 1970s removed is 85° and 63°.

Think of this for a minute: If our coldest average high went from 27° to 30° in ten years, it’s conceivable that in less than ten years, Rockford, Illinois will no longer have an average high temperature below freezing.

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, climate/climate change, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on January 23, 2012

Snow: There’s no happy medium

Last week was our snowiest week so far this winter, bringing our seasonal snowfall total up to 13.4 inches. Not bad, considering we were wondering if we would get ANY snow this season!

By comparison, 28.3 inches had fallen last year by this time (and we were still over a week before our 14.3 inch snowfall on Groundhog’s Day).

Typically, to this point 20.4 inches of snow should have already fallen at the Chicago/Rockford Int’l Airport. The forecast

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Posted under snow

This post was written by qni_it on January 23, 2012