Increasing Rain Chances for Wednesday

After a few scattered showers and sprinkles this morning, our chances for showers and a few thunderstorms will increase as we head into Wednesday. As the next low-pressure system approaches from the west, the connected warm front will slide through the area during the afternoon hours.  This will be our lifting mechanism to produce showers and thunderstorms. A few scattered showers are possible Wednesday morning; however, most of the showers and thunderstorms will happen during the afternoon hours.  The latest computer models are showing the highest amounts of rainfall closer to Madison,WI.  That is where the placement of the low-pressure will be located.  Friendly Reminder:  Umbrellas will be needed tomorrow.

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Posted under rain

This post was written by qni_it on April 24, 2012

Aurora Borealis possible tonight!

10:35pm – Just before newstime we received many reports of the aurora being out on the northern horizon, visible from DeKalb, Belvidere, Polo, IL, and near the IL/WI stateline. I also viewed it from WREX-TV. -ES

Heads up to all skywatchers! According to the University of Alaska, the current aurora level is 5 which is considered “extreme.” The map to the left shows where the highest likelihood of auroras will be. The bright green line is where they will be directly overhead. Notice the “viewable” area comes as far south as North-Central Illinois.

To get a glimpse, you’ll need an unobstructed view directly north. If they do appear, they will be low on the horizon. Get yourself away from city lights (and keep in mind you will want no city directly to your north for about 15-20 miles). I haven’t gotten any word on the twittersphere that any are viewable yet, however they may peak well after midnight.

If you see them, click on our Facebook page and let us know! Of course, if you get any camera shots, send them at once (either on Facebook or via e-mail)! -ES

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Posted under space

This post was written by qni_it on April 23, 2012

Severe Weather Preparedness Week

This week is Severe Weather Preparedness Week. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Federal emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are joining forces to help save lives during severe weather events.  This week is all about being prepared and taking action when the threat of severe weather arrives.  They want you to “be a force of nature” and know everything that is going on around you. 

 There are a few simple things that you can do at home or at work that will help you in the long run if you know what to do before it happens.  One easy step you can do right now is sign up for text alerts.  Just click http://www.wrex.com/Global/link.asp?L=410454 and you can sign up for the county you live in and what severe weather notifications you want to receive.  With this information at your fingertips, take action and share the information with your family members, friends, staff and co-workers.  You can also share it on Twitter and Facebook.  Make sure everyone that is around you knows that there is severe weather headed our way and it’s time to take cover.  For more information http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/force.html

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Posted under news, safety, severe weather, tornado, weather, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on April 23, 2012

High Fire Danger Today

A Red Flag Warning is in effect for Ogle, Lee, and DeKalb counties until 7pm tonight.   The weather conditions today will create dangerous outdoor burning situations.  By this afternoon, the combination of low relative humidity levels (20-30%) and gusty North-northwest winds up to 25 mph will cause any outdoor fire to spread quickly.  If you were planning to do any outdoor burning today, please hold off until better conditions arrive.

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Posted under weather, wildfires, Wind

This post was written by qni_it on April 23, 2012

Spring Snow Statistics

As parts of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia brace for as much as 1 foot of snow, we will enjoy temperatures in the 50s for Monday.  A monster storm moving along the East Coast will bring some springtime wintry weather to places like Buffalo, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown, Ohio.

We’re no stranger to snow in spring.  Northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin usually picks up 7.0 inches of snow during the months of March, April, and May in an average year.  This year, Rockford’s only received 3.0 inches of snow so far.  That occurred during the first few days of March.  Since then, above average temperatures have kept our precipitation in liquid form.

Spring is a volatile season and as history has shown, we can get hammered with snow or squeak by with next to nothing!  The snowiest spring occurred in 1924 when we picked up 24.5 inches.  One of the least snowiest springs occurred just last year in 2011.  Only 0.1 inch of snow fell at RFD Airport!

-JA

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Posted under snow, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on April 22, 2012

Slight Chance of Showers

A fairly tranquil weather pattern is upon us here in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.  A weak high pressure ridge that was responsible for today’s partly cloudy and cool weather will slide east tonight.  An equally weak low pressure system will move southeast from the Dakotas into northeastern Missouri by tomorrow morning.

With a very dry atmosphere, showers have been mainly contained to eastern Iowa.  There is a slight chance for precipitation tonight mainly west of the Illinois Route 78 corridor where dew points are a little higher.  This includes areas of Jo Daviess, Carroll, and Whiteside County.  The chance for rain is only 20% so umbrellas will likely not be put to use.  A very slight chance of rain exists for the rest of the region tonight.

Another center of high pressure will control our weather for Sunday.  Your 13 Weather Authority forecast calls for a mix of clouds and sun, a breezy northeast wind, and temperatures in the middle 50s.

-JA

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Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on April 21, 2012

Why is frost more likely in valleys?

The National Weather Service has issued Freeze Warnings for Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Boone, Carroll, Whiteside, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, and Green County for early Saturday morning as temperatures dip into the 20s and 30s.

You may have heard us in recent weeks forecast cooler temperatures in rural valleys. Typically, they are the coolest spots at night around here. The reason is the air at higher elevations becomes heavier and sinks as night wears on, pooling in the lowest elevations. In Meteorology this is known as negative buoyancy. The cool air descends hills along the same terrain as rain or snow would run off. When the air reaches the valley floor, it will keep cooling due to continued radiational heat loss as the night wears on.  Cold air pools can be very deep in mountainous areas but can be as small as just a few feet around here. In short, cover your plants if you’re in a valley!

Interestingly, any obstruction the cold air encounters entering a valley causes the air to stop, much like water running into a dam. In this example, a stand of trees may block the wind, causing a frost pocket.The temperature may be several degrees colder in this shaded area than the valley floor itself.

In addition, valleys with ponds or rivers can provide fog. -ES

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Posted under cold blast, fog, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on April 20, 2012

Celebrate Astronomy Day at the Discovery Center Museum!

Did you know that the stars and planets have their own holiday? The Discovery Center Museum, along with help from the Rockford Amateur Astronomers will be celebrating Astronomy Day, Saturday April 28th from 11am-4pm.

Activities for children will include making a star map, investigating telescopes, taking safe, close-up views of the sun, creating glittery crafts, and enjoying free planetarium shows.

Info on the Discovery Center Museum:

Discovery Center Museum is a non-profit children’s science museum with over 200 hands-on exhibits, planetarium, special area for children under 6, and an award-winning outdoor science park. The museum is ranked the #4 children’s museum in the nation by Child Magazine. Discovery Center is located inside the Riverfront Museum Park, 711 North Main Street, Rockford, Illinois. Admission is $7. Children  under the age of 2 are free. Hours of operation are: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday and Noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For additional information regarding Discovery Center Museum, call (815) 963-6769 or log onto our website at www.discoverycentermuseum.org.

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Posted under event, science

This post was written by qni_it on April 20, 2012

Blustery Friday Afternoon = Cold Friday Night

We will unfortunately have to deal with a round of chilly conditions this afternoon.  This is all thanks to the low-pressure system that passed by last night and is now pushing colder air in from Canada.  The combination of cloud cover and north winds gusting up to 30 mph will first cause our temperatures to remain below average in the upper 40s and lower 50s.  Then to make matters worse, the northerly winds will cause them to feel about 10 degrees colder.  Since temperatures will be below average this afternoon, our temperature will be prone to fall quickly overnight due to the cloud cover clearing out.  Temperatures will once again fall into the lower and mid 30s producing patchy frost across the viewing area.  This means you will want to cover your plants tonight to keep them safe.

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Posted under cold blast, weather

This post was written by qni_it on April 20, 2012

WREX Hosts Weather Workshop

This afternoon, WREX hosted a weather workshop given by Meteorologists with the National Weather Service office in Chicago. We were also joined by Mark Henderson and Dan Guthrie from WIFR and Candice King from WTVO.

Highlights:

This year is the first year the National Weather Service will have a country-wide severe weather awareness week. In addition, there is a new national campaign called “Be a Force of Nature” so that those in your workplace who are weather-savvy become the “spotter” for severe weather. That person alerts the rest of the staff about the life-threatening potential. It’s a very interesting concept! Click here to read more.

Meteorologist Jim Allsopp gave a rundown on the different weather alerts the office puts out and the reasons behind them.

Meteorologist Matt Friedlein presented about the recent dual-pol upgrades to the National Weather Service dopplers at Romeoville, Davenport, and Milwaukee/Sullivan. It’s important for local TV meteorologists to learn more about this because the technology wasn’t around when I studied for my B.S. degree.

Meteorologist Ricky Castro presented an in-depth on how dual-pol radar allowed Meteorologists to see debris within the air during the Branson, Missouri tornado earlier this year. In addition, he pointed out an example from a tornado in North Georgia where Meteorologists at the National Weather Service were able to confirm a tornado on the ground just based on radar data.

Attention turned to local tornadoes when Meteorologist Gino Izzi took the floor. What if there was a large tornado that crossed Chicago? What if the Joplin tornado happened in Rockford instead? The conclusions are that we are just not ready for a large tornado here even though an EF-4 or EF-5 tornado may be overdue. “If a tornado crossed Chicagoland, especially the highly populated areas of the city, there would likely be more than a thousand fatalities” says Izzi. He pointed out that people in Kansas and Oklahoma know tornadoes can happen there and they are (in most cases) ready for them to occur.

Finally, Meteorologist In Charge of the NWS Chicago Office, Ed Fenelon, talked about the societal impacts tornado warnings have. “We know that people don’t heed the warnings.” There was discussion about a color-coded scale that a few NWS offices are using when forecasting significant weather events. In addition, five NWS offices are utilizing impact-based wording in the weather warnings. For significant tornado warnings, a more descriptive forecast is given which will allow the public to know it is a particularly dangerous situation.

We wrapped up with a very good discussion about how we should move forward as Meteorologists. There is a lot to learn and it’s our duty as weather enthusiasts to help others know the weather risk.

And one more thing: Imagine if your smart phone was a weather radio. Stay tuned for info on that! -ES

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Posted under weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on April 19, 2012