Record Heat on Sunday

Sunday May 27, 2012 will go down in the record books for a few reasons.  Officially at Chicago Rockford International Airport, the mercury hit 99 degrees!  That will replace the previous record of 92 degrees set in 1978. 

Another thing of note is the fact that this was the second warmest temperature ever recorded in Rockford for the month of May!  The warmest temperature ever recorded during the month was 106 degrees on May 31, 1934.

The last and possibly most interesting thing is that Rockford may have had the hottest high temperature of any major city in the United States on Sunday!  This would be based on all official National Weather Service weather observation sites (ours is RFD Airport).  This cannot be verified until all data is compiled and published, which may not be until Tuesday (since Memorial Day is a national holiday).

Across the local area, some backyards hit 100 degrees.  However, none of the official observation sites reached the century mark.  All but two local cities set a new record high temperature for May 27th!  Freeport missed their record by 3 degrees and Galena missed their record by 4 degrees.

-JA

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Posted under 13 Climate Authority, heat wave, record weather, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on May 27, 2012

The Heat is On

A warm front that caused a nearly 30 degree spread in temperatures on Saturday will finally move north into central Wisconsin overnight.  Around 6pm on Saturday, Lake Geneva was 63 degrees, Rockford was 75, Rochelle was 81, and Dixon was 90!

Hot conditions are expected for Sunday.  Highs will range from 94° to 98° across the region with heat indices approaching 100°!  We’ll see plenty of sunshine mixed with cumulus clouds and a breezy southwest wind gusting over 20mph.

Our record high in Rockford for Sunday is 92°, set in 1978.  It is likely that we will top that!

The heat continues for Memorial Day, as highs will once again make a run at 90.  By the afternoon and evening, a cold front will spark off showers and thunderstorms.  Some thunderstorms will have the potential to be strong or severe.

-JA

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Posted under weather

This post was written by qni_it on May 26, 2012

Showers & Thunderstorms Moving Through

FLASH FLOOD WARNING for central Winnebago County until 11:30am.  Urban areas and small streams in Pecatonica, Winnebago, Loves Park, Machesney Park, Cherry Valley, and Rockford could experience a quick rise in water levels due to torrential rain.

FLOOD ADVISORY for Boone & McHenry County until 12noon.  Over 2 inches of rain has fallen in some areas.

SEVERE THUNDERSTORM WARNING for northern Ogle & Winnebago County until 5:45am.  Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Ogle County until 5:30am.  Severe Thunderstorm Warning for Stephenson County until 5:00am.   Large hail, winds in excess of 50mph, and torrential rain combined with dangerous cloud to ground lightning has been reported.  Eric Sorensen reported nickel size hail in southeast Stephenson County.

(5:17 AM) nwsbot: Local Storm Report by NWS LOT: 2 N Winnebago [Winnebago Co, IL] broadcast media reports HAIL of penny size (M0.75 INCH) at 05:13 AM CDT — dime size hail at wrex studio

(5:17 AM) nwsbot: Local Storm Report by NWS LOT: 1 N Winnebago [Winnebago Co, IL] public reports HAIL of penny size (E0.75 INCH) at 05:14 AM CDT —

A warm front draped across Kansas, Missouri, central Illinois, and Indiana is slowly moving north.  As a result, showers and thunderstorms stretch across northern Iowa, southern Minnesota, southwestern Wisconsin, and far northern Illinois.  The general direction is east-northeast.  The storms have been training (moving over the same areas)  in eastern Iowa, putting down over 3 inches of rain in some areas.  Frequent cloud to ground lightning has been observed across Jo Daviess and Stephenson County.  Pea-size hail and brief gusty wind has been reported as well.

I will closely monitor this situation from the technology standpoint, while Meteorologist Eric Sorensen is out in Stephenson County keeping an eye on the sky.  If any storms turn severe this morning, stay tuned to the Weather Blog for updates.

Link to our Live ExacTrack Radar: http://www.wrex.com/category/181589/exactrackradar

-JA

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This post was written by qni_it on May 26, 2012

Second named tropical storm of the season forms

…and officially “hurricane season” doesn’t begin until June 1st!

Here’s a look at the current position and the model forecast path (lines) as well as the National Hurricane Center’s forecast (shaded). The storm is expected to drift southwest toward the Georgia and Florida coast. Landfall is expected Sunday evening as a tropical storm. There is only a 10% chance of it achieving hurricane status. Still, Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect from Cape Canaveral, northward to South Carolina. -ES

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This post was written by qni_it on May 25, 2012

Memorial Day Weekend Forecast

As Memorial Day weekend quickly approaches, many of you are wondering if any rain will wash out your holiday plans.  A warm front will move through overnight Friday and by Saturday afternoon it will be in southern Wisconsin.  Showers and thunderstorms are a possibility Saturday morning (40% chance).  By late afternoon, we’ll see a mix of clouds and sun with temperatures in the 80s.

Sunday will be hot!  Mostly sunny conditions and a light breeze will take us through the day.  Our record high in Rockford for May 27th is 92 degrees, set back in 1978.  We’re expecting a high of 95 degrees; some of our backyards will be a couple of degrees warmer!

On Memorial Day, a cold front to our west will be of some concern.  Scattered showers and thunderstorms will enter the forecast, mainly by evening.  Some models have this front moving through during the overnight hours; we’ll keep an eye on the timing of thunderstorms as things could change.  Highs will climb into the middle and upper 80s otherwise.

-JA

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This post was written by qni_it on May 25, 2012

How to water your lawn effectively

To be honest, I don’t usually have to give watering advice in May (and this probably doesn’t bode well for Summer). However, we’ve only seen about a half inch of rain in Rockford since the beginning of the month!

Before you set the sprinkler out, consider some tips. In most circumstances, your grass will be much greener and healthier if you just pay attention to a few things.

When you set your sprinkler out for the first time, put a bowl of water within the range of the sprinkler. You should water about an inch at a time which means when an inch of water has accumulated in the bowl, you’re probably good to go. Make sure you pay attention to how much time it takes your sprinkler to fill that bowl to an inch. This is how long you should set your egg timer every time.

Only water your lawn in the morning. Watering in the afternoon means that most of the water is evaporated due to the strong sun (and stronger wind during the day). It’s best to water right around sunrise because the water is able to soak into the roots and your grass actually does its growing in the morning.

Water about an inch a week. Using the bowl trick, this means you’ll only need to water once a week…unless we get really, super dry. And be sure to give a good soaking less frequently. Sprinkling a little bit, more often won’t do your lawn much work.

Another tip is to raise your mower’s blade just a bit. Keeping your grass a little longer will allow it to remain healthier under stressful conditions.

Finally, don’t water your rain when we have rain in the forecast! You will be wasting water and your wallet will be a little thicker when the city water bill arrives. -ES

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Posted under drought, going green, news, rain, science, sunlight, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on May 23, 2012

Storms in Iowa will weaken overnight

Strong thunderstorms continue in parts of Nebraska and Iowa tonight. Many times these nighttime thunderstorms will accelerate eastward during spring and summer months. However, the axis of instability from Threatrack (shaded in green) is not expected to shift eastward tonight. This will keep all of the storms west of the Mississippi River overnight.

We will have a threat for thunderstorms on Thursday, but not likely before 8pm. -ES

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Posted under severe weather

This post was written by qni_it on May 23, 2012

Project: Tornado Question of the Day

I had the chance to head to Freeport Middle School this afternoon for Project: Tornado and spoke with the entire 6th grade class.  While we were waiting for the video to load, I answered some good questions from the audience.  One question I was unable to answer was about EF-5 tornadoes.

Many of you are probably familiar with the Enhanced Fujita (EF) scale, used for measuring the strength or intensity of tornadoes.  Dr. Ted Fujita developed this scale in 1971 at the University of Chicago.  Tornadoes are ranked from EF-0 through EF-5, based on the amount of damage they cause.  Wind speeds (classified by the EF number) are then determined after the National Weather Service surveys the severity of the damage.  In 2007, the original scale was updated to reflect the continuing evolution of tornado knowledge and information.  That’s where the ‘E’ (enhanced) came from!

The question asked today was ‘How many EF-5 tornadoes have there been?’

Officially, there have only been 57 EF-5 tornadoes confirmed in the United States since 1950.  This is less than 2% of all tornadoes that have occurred in our country.  The most recent EF-5 tornadoes occurred one year ago.  The May 22, 2011 Joplin tornado moved through southwest Missouri, leaving nearly 160 people dead and causing $2.8 billion in damage.  Two days after that tornado, another EF-5 touched down in Oklahoma, killing 9 people.  Both of those tornadoes had wind speeds estimated over 210mph.

Only two EF-5 tornadoes have touched down in Illinois since 1950; three EF-5 tornadoes have moved through Wisconsin.  The 1990 Plainfield, Illinois tornado killed 29 people and caused hundreds of millions in damage.  The storm that produced that tornado formed in Rock County, put down a small tornado near Pecatonica in Winnebago County, and then continued southeast to the Chicago suburbs where a tornado intensified to EF-5 strength at Plainfield.

-JA

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Posted under Project: Tornado, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on May 23, 2012

Join us for a “Project: Tornado” Special Report!

On Friday, Project: Tornado will come to an end for the year. However, we are planning a special half hour program dedicated to tornadoes and tornado safety. Jeannie Hayes will be our host Sunday morning at 7:30am as we sit down and talk about the reasons why our weather team spent countless hours authoring a book, producing a documentary, and speaking to at least one school each day for a month.

Yesterday marked the one year anniversary of not only the Joplin, Missouri tornado, but a long-track tornado right here in Northern Illinois. We will be talking about the apathy that has settled into our community, including the notion that tornadoes bypass Rockford. Joplin and Tuscaloosa will come up, along with the ways we in the Meteorology community are learning from these killer events. We’ll also be showing the documentary video we’ve been showing all of the children this month.

Do you have any tornado questions you’d like answers to? We’d love to answer some viewer questions as well. E-Mail weather@wrex.com and be sure to watch 13Cares, this Sunday at 7:30 on 13WREX. -ES

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Posted under news, tornado

This post was written by qni_it on May 23, 2012

Today marks one year since Northern Illinois long-track tornado

WREX-TV coverage of the tornado as it happened. We did not know until the next day that the tornado had been on the ground for 29 miles.

 

Exactly one year ago today, a rare long-track tornado affected the Rockford metro. The storm started producing a tornado in Ogle County, around Forreston. As the storm moved northeast, it produced EF-1 damage around Adeline.

By the time the storm reached southwestern Winnebago County, it was caught by former 13News Meteorologist and Storm Chaser Aaron Brackett. Even though the tornado was hidden within the rain, he was able to alert us that “there could be a tornado at any time guys. This is not good.” Within seco

 

nds from that live shot, he sped away, taking shelter in a stranger’s open garage…ready to go to the basement.

Meteorologist Cyndi Kahlbaum and I were doing continuous live coverage from the Weather Center. Within seconds after Aaron’s live shot, I ordered all people in our building into the basement. As the storm began pounding the station, we stayed on the air, broadcasting live from the WREX basement as well. We had quite a bit of debris here at the station, as well as numerous dents on cars and trucks due to quarter sized hail.

After a storm survey, the National Weather Service concluded a tornado was on the ground for 29 miles from east of Forreston to near Loves Park. Two mobile homes were severely damaged in Ogle County. In Winnebago County, several outbuildings were destroyed and the roof was partially torn off of Kennedy Middle School. Large trees and limbs were snapped by the tornado. A pontoon boat ended up in a tree at a house along the Rock River in Machesney Park.

Luckily, no one was killed by this tornado however by looking at the map above it’s easy to envision the injuries and possible fatalties had this tornado tracked just one mile to the south. Had that occurred, it would’ve devastated shopping malls, busy intersections, as well as hundreds of homes.

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Posted under news, tornado

This post was written by qni_it on May 22, 2012