Why So Rainy?

June 16, 2015: Today was nice, mostly due to the lack of rain! This was the first day in the last 6 that we are completely dry. 3 of the last 6 have also featured flash flood warnings in the Stateline because of the intense rainfall at times.

temperature and wind chillRockford is now at 2.62″ of rain for the month, which is right on average for June. 2.29″ of that came within the last 5 days, which is why everything is so soaked.  In some areas of the Stateline, 4 times the normal amount of rain for a week fell during this rainy stretch!

So, why so rainy lately? We’ve had a pretty good setup for that hefty amounts of rain.  There’s a lot going on on this map, so bear with me:

RAINY SETUP3 main factors have lined up repeatedly for heavy rainfall:

1) First, plenty of moisture. The days lately have been very humid, with dewpoint temperatures in the 70’s! This means showers and storms have a lot of water that they can suck up and drop over our area. Stronger winds in the lower part of the atmosphere has been keep the very moist air flowing into the area.

2) Next, the jet stream is positioned perfectly to bring us a lot of chances for rain. Disturbances in the jet help spark up showers, and direct them right into the Stateline, since the jet is set up directly over us.

3) Finally, we’ve had a series of warm and cold fronts criss-cross the area. These boundaries are great for creating showers and storms.  The problem is that they aren’t moving fast at all, allowing them to sit and pour over the same spot.

The combo of all three of these factors is like taking a garden hose and pointing it at one spot on the ground.  Eventually, the ground can’t hold any more water, creating a large puddle because the stream of water won’t stop.

Looking forward into next week, while the jet stream looks to stay in place, we should more pushes of dry air out of the north, which should help keep the humidity a little lower and leave less fuel for heavy rain. Rain will continue to be on and off in the forecast, but at least the heavy rain risk will be lower.



Posted under flooding, rain, weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 16, 2015

So…What Happened Yesterday?


Wind shear…check.


So what happened to the severe thunderstorms yesterday?

I think it’s important to go back after any severe weather event (whether it comes to fruition or not) and understand why things happened and/or why things didn’t happen.
Thursday morning we had many showers and thunderstorms fire up, dropping 1-3″ of rain in just the morning hours. These happened *before the warm front (our last ingredient for severe weather) lifted north to the Stateline.

6-11-15 radar image for blog

Here were the thoughts Thursday morning: A warm front that was placed in central Illinois will lift north in the mid afternoon hours, bringing with it a warm, humid airmass. Combine that with the wind shear and moisture in place, and we’ve got a severe weather threat on our hands.

So, why didn’t that warm front stay in central Illinois and not lift into Northern Illinois in the early/mid afternoon? Did you notice the cool breeze?

6-11-15 warm front

It has to do with something called an outflow boundary. Sometimes, thunderstorms will trigger an outflow boundary, and yesterday morning, they did just that. I learned to think of outflow boundaries as dropping a water balloon on an angled driveway. When it splashes, the water hits the ground and moves in the direction the driveway in angled. Except with an outflow boundary, we’re talking about air. The cool air from the downdraft of the thunderstorms yesterday surged southward, and we were able to see a northerly wind in areas along I-88. We could also see this outflow boundary on radar yesterday, extending from the southern edge of Lake Michigan (some of this may have been enhanced from the lake) stretching all the way to the Quad Cities area. We could even see a thunderstorm pop up along the outflow boundary near Joliet. Think of it as a smaller version of a cold front.

6-11-15 ofb6-11-15 ofb2

So what does this have to do with our warm front? Well, the warm front was in central Illinois. The outflow boundary was surging southward toward it while it was trying to lift northward.  This ended up stalling our warm front.



Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on June 12, 2015

Flash Flood Setup

June 11, 2015: Flash flooding is a risk tonight as we have a lot of moisture coming our way.

First of all, where did the severe weather go? The potential was there, but the pieces didn’t come together in time to produce severe thunderstorms.  The blue-red stationary boundary you see below was key. If that boundary worked northward as a warm front, very unstable air would have been available to fuel intense storms. We had the wind shear necessary too, but without that unstable air, we had what happened today- a few thunderstorms but no severe weather.


Now onto the threat for flash flooding.  The setup is this- we have storms forming north of a stationary boundary (where warm, unstable air is trying to replace cooler, more stable air; the clash between the two is sparking storms).  Upper level winds are pushing a lot of moist air into the region. And I mean a lot!  This leads to heavy rain showers.  Because the boundary isn’t moving anywhere, storms keep forming along the boundary, but have nothing to push them anywhere else. This means we keep getting t-storms in the same locations.  The soggy ground can only hold so much, leading to the rain water piling up and flooding.


A great example of this is in Iowa right now, in the circled area near Cedar Rapids. Heavy rain showers are “training” or following each other over the same areas repeatedly, causing rain to accumulate very quickly.  This is similar to pointing a garden hose at the same spot on the ground until a puddle forms.  In this case, the puddle is now northeast Iowa.  Not long after this image was captured, Cedar Rapids and the surrounding areas were placed under a flash flood warning, with drivers stranded on flooded streets.

*The best location for flooding will occur wherever those heavy thunderstorms track. That line of heavy showers in northeast Iowa will track eastward, but look to diminish some as they head east.  This looks to be close to the Iowa/Illinois border, then into the area right near the Wisconsin/Illinois border. This will mainly occur overnight, with less shower activity tomorrow morning.*

flash flood watch

A Flash Flood Watch will remain in effect until tomorrow morning. Flash flooding will only occur where the heaviest showers set up, so not all locations in the Stateline will see flooding. The rain should wind down by the end of Friday morning.  Be sure to follow us online at www.wrex.com/weather, on our Facebook/Twitter pages, and on 13 WREX on-air for further updates.



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 11, 2015

Severe Weather Potential for June 11

June 10, 2015: The Stateline yet again has another chance for severe weather this Thursday. The SPC (Storm Prediction Center) has placed the Stateline under a “slight risk” for Thursday.

SPC 6-11

Ingredients are lining up well for the potential for severe weather, but there are some limitations that we would have to overcome to see severe weather tomorrow afternoon. Temperatures will again be very warm across the northern Illinois region.

temps 6-11

Temperatures will reach the middle 80’s in most cities across Northern Illinois and these warm temperatures will help fuel storms for tomorrow afternoon. Several other ingredients are looking favorable for tomorrow as well.  The humid air adds to the amount of moisture needed for storms, plus helps create instability. Winds in the lower parts of the atmosphere appear to be backing meaning that there is a wind shift that is counterclockwise. Models are showing winds shifting from the southeast to the east during the afternoon hours.

sounding 6-11 (Winds are located on the right hand side of the image)

The GFS and NAM models do differ when it comes to the amount of instability tomorrow. The instability values in the GFS sounding image shown above are not impressive at all. However, the NAM sounding below is showing high instability values which increases our chances of seeing storms tomorrow afternoon. nam sounding

Now since both models differ so much, we are looking at these values to be the extremes for tomorrow afternoon. The amount of instability will more than likely be somewhere in between the two extreme values.

Our major limiting factor is going to be the moisture available in the mid-levels of the atmosphere. Although the CAPE values are very impressive in the NAM sounding, the mid-levels of the atmosphere are extremely dry and the cloud top height is not impressive at all. The timing of a warm front and upper level disturbances that would trigger storms have to line up right as well.

We are looking at a 3-7 PM time frame right now for severe weather.

We will continue to track the potential for severe weather for tomorrow afternoon and we will update everyone on social media and our website.

– Meteorologist Nick Jansen


Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 10, 2015

Hello Heat!

June 9, 2015: Temperatures soared to near 90° today in most locations, not only making this the hottest day of the year (so far), but also matching some of the hottest days from last year.

Hottest days of 2014

Hottest days of 2014

Only 2 days reached the 90’s last year, with a scant total of 6 days in the upper 80’s or above for the whole summer. We tied the 2nd warmest days this afternoon.


A few locations did reach the 90’s today, like Dixon and a few areas in southern Wisconsin.


Looking ahead, the temperature will slowly trend downward, but the humidity will not. Today was a little humid, but we’ll feel the mugginess the next few days, so it’s a good thing the heat is going down.

threattrack outlook

I know this isn’t the hottest weather we’ll ever see, but there are a few good habits you can start doing now before the dog days of summer arrive. Remember to drink plenty of water (lots of sugar in sports drinks), take some time out of the heat, and don’t forget about your pets! Hot pavement doesn’t feel good on dogs’ pads.

Stay cool, and enjoy the summer weather!



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 9, 2015

Looking Ahead

June 8, 2015: This month has been off to a warm start, with all days (except one) in at least the middle 70’s, if not the 80’s. We could see plenty more warm weather within the next few days.

temperature and wind chillTomorrow and Wednesday look to top out in at least the middle 80’s, if not push 90° with a very warm and muggy airmass moving in. Even as temperatures cool toward the end of the work week, we are still staying above 80°.


Late in the week, showers and t-storms reappear in the forecast. A cold front moves through on Wednesday, then stalls out, providing a nice boundary for daily chances for rain. While there is only a slight chance for rain on Wednesday, the other two days look decent for precipitation.

Temperature forecast from the Climate Prediction Center

Temperature forecast from the Climate Prediction Center

Peeking ahead to the rest of June, get used to the warm weather. There is a good chance that above average weather (i.e. highs in the middle to upper 80’s) will fill the majority of the days this month.  Cooler weather gets stuck in Texas and the Great Plains.

Precipitation forecast from the Climate Prediction Center

Precipitation forecast from the Climate Prediction Center

Rain-wise, let’s hope we get a little more, or that it stays frequent. The current outlook for the month shows drier than average weather. So far, we’ve had 2 days of rain out of 8 this month.

In summary- if you like warm summer weather, you may be in luck this month!



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 8, 2015

Here’s to the weekend!

June 5, 2015: There is plenty going on this weekend in the Stateline, and we have up-and-down weather to go along with that.

Basically- Saturday is the better day to be outdoors than Sunday.  Sunday will not be a total washout, but Saturday will be the only completely dry day.


Saturday will be fairly comfortable as well, with a cool start and a warm finish, with plenty of sunshine.


Sunday will be the day to keep a close eye on the weather. Heavy thunderstorms are possible in the morning, followed by scattered showers and thunderstorms during the afternoon along a cold front.  The humidity climbs plenty on Sunday too, making the day feel muggy.  Depending on the timing of the cold front, we could see some isolated strong to severe storms.

threattrack outlook

The risk is minimal for severe weather right now, with a better chance into central Illinois. Make sure to stay up-to-date this weekend with the weather by following our updates on-air and online (www.wrex.com/weather).


IF we see any severe weather (again, the risk is low right now), strong winds, hail, and heavy rainfall would be the main threats. In fact, we could have heavy rain without severe weather, mainly due to the higher humidity on Sunday.

Enjoy the weekend, and keep one eye on the sky this Sunday!

– Alex


Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 5, 2015

The things you can see on radar…

June 4, 2015: Tuesday night, something interesting popped up on the radar near one of our neighbors to the north (and I’ll give you a hint- it isn’t rain):


Any guesses as to what the solid, green blob is at and south of La Crosse, WI?



Wait for it….






radar (2)Yep. Mayflies hatch on the Mississippi River every year.  We may see a hatch near the Iowa/Illinois border close to us soon. The bug “cloud” emerging from the river is so thick, it resembles rain on the radar!  Believe it or not, a good mayfly hatch is a sign of a healthy Mississippi ecosystem.

Weather radars are tuned to pick up small objects like raindrops, hail stones, and snow flakes. Because of this, we sometimes are able to see bugs (like the mayflies), and flocks of birds as well!  It takes a trained eye to figure out whether objects at times are meteorological or non-meteorological.



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on June 3, 2015

Whose showers bring whose flowers?

“April showers bring May flowers,” or do they?

June 1st officially marked the first day of meteorological summer, however the summer solstice doesn’t actually occur until June 21st. Who’s counting, right? 😉

Actually, farmers, landscapers, and gardeners just might be.

After a rainy last few months, an area landscaper tells WREX-TV each rainy day sets them back another 3 days! You can read about that by clicking here, my purpose is to tell you how much has been falling.

A normal spring in Rockford drops close to 10 inches of rainfall, before we head into drier territory in July. 6-2 RAINFALL 1

Not so bad, right? Well, within the last 5 years, four of them have been ABOVE average and we’re on track to possibly make it 5 out of 6 this year.

Here’s what the past five have looked like:
2014: 10.59″
2013: 13.37″
2012: 7.84″
2011: 10.75″
2010: 10.12″

So far this spring, Rockford has gotten 8.87″ of rainfall which is close to 2.5″ above what we should be at for this time of year. April 9th’s tornado event contributed to that big time.

6-2 RAINFALL 2So, which days were the windshield wipers on full blast? Here’s a recap:

April 9th: 2.24″
May 5th: 0.84″
May 24th: 0.75″
May 4th: 0.58″
March 23rd: 0.53″

The month of May brought Rockford 4.85 inches of rainfall, while the month of April “wrung” in 3.12 inches. The final days we have in the spring season this June bring in 3.21″ of rain on average, the rainiest of the entire season.

So, whose showers bring whose flowers?


Guess it depends on the year! 🙂



Posted under weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on June 2, 2015