Cold Turkey

Thu., Nov. 27, 2014- Happy Thanksgiving!  I hope your holiday is going well so far.  Here’s a little light reading for you as you digest all that turkey and the fixin’s:

You probably noticed it was very cold today.  In fact, it was one of the top 5 coldest Thanksgivings on record for Rockford (not that we wanted to set a record like this)!

Top three coldest Thanksgivings in Rockford history

Top three coldest Thanksgivings in Rockford history

We tied for 4th place with a high of 25°.  That is 16° below average for this time of year. This is only the 10th time since 1905 that we’ve had temperatures in the 20’s for Thanksgiving!

We also had a few flurries.  We are usually dry for Thanksgiving, so this is uncommon too. Snow has fallen on Thanksgiving only around 30 times over the last 109 years.

I hope you managed to stay warm today.  Good news- we’ll be back in the 40’s by this weekend! Have a great rest of your holiday!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving travel weather

Monday, November 24, 2014: Naturally, most of the focus has been on today’s snowy and windy weather and its impacts on driving conditions. Many of you may be anxiously waiting for the time when you have to catch that flight or hit the road to your Thanksgiving meal. Here’s a holiday-focused forecast for anyone hitting the road early or looking ahead to Thursday.

Tuesday will be dry and cold, so for those of you early birds zooming out of the Stateline already, good news!  Keep an eye on the roads for any lingering icy spots from Monday, and safe travels!

Wednesday will be interesting.  A clipper system will be moving into the Stateline, right on one of the busiest travel days across the country.

Futuretrack's outlook for Wed., Nov. 26

Futuretrack’s outlook for Wed., Nov. 26, 7 AM

A clipper system is a quick hitting storm, so its impacts vary.  Its full name is an Alberta clipper- Alberta from the province in Canada where these storms usually get their start, and clipper in tribute to the fast-moving sailing ships that used to zip along the oceans and seas. As you may have guessed, this is a fast-moving storm, so it doesn’t stick around long enough to drop a ton of snow.  In this case, there is the possibility of light snow for Wednesday, but accumulations will be very light and shouldn’t slow you down much.  There is the possibility that this storm stays to our south, so most of the Stateline and into Chicagoland will be dry.

Futuretrack's outlook for Wed., Nov 26, 7 PM

Futuretrack’s outlook for Wed., Nov 26, 7 PM

The bigger impact in this case is that these storms usually bring in some very chilly air in their wake, and that’s the case this time around too. Thanksgiving Day will be a cold one for a lot of the Midwest.

Holiday forecast for Rockford and the Stateline

Holiday forecast for Rockford and the Stateline

Friday will also feature a slight chance for snow, but like Wednesday, the impacts will be light if we do get anything.  The rest of the weekend looks dry with temperatures varying between the 30’s and low 40’s.

Overall, there should not be much that slows you down, but keep in mind, we had snow today and there may be some on Wednesday, so practice good winter driving habits if the roads aren’t dry.

If you need a quick update right before you head out the door, jump over to www.wrex.com/weather and click on the Interactive Radar tab.  Once there, look for the Layers tab at the bottom.

The 13 Weather Authority's Interactive Radar allows you to add layers to the radar, like temperature, snow cover, winds, and road conditions.

The 13 Weather Authority’s Interactive Radar allows you to add layers to the radar, like temperature, snow cover, winds, and road conditions.

You can add the Road Weather layer to the map, giving you a snapshot of the road conditions at that time, as well as over the last hour or so.

Interactive Radar's road conditions layer

Interactive Radar’s road conditions layer

This will hopefully give you a good outlook on how the roads look at your location and at the spot you are heading!  Be sure to stay with the 13 Weather Authority on-air and online leading up to Thanksgiving (and the day’s after for the return trip), and have a safe journey to your destination this week!

-Alex

akirchner@wrex.com

 

 

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 24, 2014

Record Stretch

Tuesday, Nov. 28- If it’s going to be this cold, we may as well get something out of the deal and set some records, right?  That’s what happened today, and almost happened yesterday, too.

If you look back at the previous entry (Arctic Chill: http://addins.wrex.com/blogs/weather/2014/11/artic-chill), you’ll see a couple things.  1) We’ve been under the freezing point (32° F) for nearly a week, and that likely won’t chance until the weekend, making this a pretty substantial cold stretch.  2) 1951 and 1959 stand out amongst the past cold stretches like this.

Why is that?  Those years were the last time we had weather this cold, or cold enough to set the records that were threatened or fell today.

Here’s how Monday played out (day 1 of the very cold stretch):

Monday's weather threatened to break the record for coldest high temperature

Monday’s weather threatened to break the record for coldest high temperature

Take note that the record was set in 1959.  Now look at the records set for today:

2 records fell on Tuesday- coldest low and coldest high temperature for Nov. 18

2 records fell on Tuesday- coldest low and coldest high temperature for Nov. 18

The coldest high temperature record, standing for 63 years, fell today!  It just goes to show that while unusual, we can have very cold weather in November like this.  Thankfully, it doesn’t happen all that often- we had to wait around 60 years before it popped up as this cold again.

If you are curious about what set up our very chilly weather this time around, head to our website for a web exclusive on the Omega Block pattern that contributed to this long cold pattern.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 18, 2014

Arctic chill

November 13 marked the 2nd day in a row with a high of 30°- that’s also the 2nd day at nearly 20° below average!  The Stateline also saw plenty of flurry and light snow activity, enough that the Rockford airport measured o.3″ of snow by 4 pm, but thankfully the ground and the roads were just a little too warm for accumulation.

The average low for Nov. 12 and 13 is 32°.  We didn't warm up to that value either day.

The average low for Nov. 12 and 13 is 32°. We didn’t warm up to that value either day.

There have been cold stretches like this in the past for the middle of November, but we haven’t had cold like this that stuck around in a while.

Rockford has not been this cold this early in the season since 1995.

Rockford has not been this cold this early in the season since 1995. (Courtesy National Weather Service Chicago)

With flurries in the air, and the threat for snow Saturday night, you may want to start doing your winter prepping a little early, especially as sub-freezing temperatures are expected to last well into next week.

Tasks you might want to start thinking about and doing before winter really sets in

Tasks you might want to start thinking about and doing before winter really sets in

Another item you may want to add to the list is putting up the Christmas lights.  You don’t have to turn them on, but why not put them up before everything gets icy or snowy for a while?  Installing them now means not having to deal with the more treacherous conditions.

Stay warm!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 13, 2014

Why so cold for so long?

Brr!  We here in the Stateline definitely felt the cold grip of winter enter the area this Veterans Day- the air temperature has plummeted from the 60’s Monday evening (Nov. 10) to the middle 30’s 24 hours later.

The air temperature trend from Nov. 10 to Nov. 11

The air temperature trend from Nov. 10 to Nov. 11

Get used to the 30’s, because we’ll be seeing them for a while, at least through next week.  So why will they hang around for so long?

First, let’s look at what brought the unwelcome Arctic air in.  And no, it’s not the Polar Vortex.

Former super-typhoon Nuri helped move warm air north, which pushed cold air south

Former super-typhoon Nuri helped move warm air north, which pushed cold air south

A former super-typhoon named Nuri (a typhoon is the same thing as a hurricane; different name because it formed in a different part of the world (Pacific vs Atlantic, in general terms)) moved into the Bering Sea.  On its move, the storm intensified.  A lot.  While the storm raged near Alaska, it caused some side effect to this that are affecting us now.  Nuri was able to rev up the jet stream nearby, pushing a ridge in the jet stream along the Pacific Coast northward.  This shoving of the ridge moved a lot of unseasonably warm air toward the North Pole.  That push of warm air north dislodged cold, Arctic air from the North Pole and sent to sliding down to us in the Midwest.

That’s what we felt Monday into Veterans Day on Tuesday was the very cold air finally reaching us.  Now, that air will stick around because the ridge is sort of coming back into play.

Broad high pressure on the West Coast makes life difficult in the Midwest

Broad high pressure on the West Coast makes life difficult in the Midwest

Forming Wednesday and lasting well into next week is a blocking pattern called an Omega Block.  We call these patterns blocking patterns because they do just that: block any changes to the weather pattern, resulting in consistent, persistent, stagnant weather for a long stretch of time.

In this case, the omega block (which looks like the Greek letter Omega) is cause by Nuri weakening, relaxing the jet stream near Alaska and causing a strong ridge to form on the West Coast.  That broad area of high pressure under the ridge means weather systems either have to travel all the way around it, or be strong enough to break the ridge down.  This results in the weather being very consistent for a while.

So in the end, the Arctic air that arrived for Veterans Day? It’s not going anywhere, anytime soon.  We’ll have highs in the 30’s and lows in the teens clear into next week!  Bundle up!

-Alex

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 11, 2014