Historic Hurricane

Oct. 23, 2015: Hurricane Patricia in the Pacific Ocean near Mexico made history today, as being the strongest hurricane on record.  At their highest point, wind speeds were at 200 mph, gusting to 240 mph! The central pressure was an amazingly low 879 millibars, or 25.96 inches of mercury.  The most astounding part of this storm, is that it blew up from next to nothing Tuesday morning to the strongest hurricane on record 3 days later.

The hurricane blew up so quickly because of nearly ideal conditions in the Pacific. The water temperature was at a record 87° F, and that water temperature extended deep below the surface. We can thank a strong El Niño for helping out with that.  Also, wind shear was non-existent, allowing the storm to build explosively without anything threatening to tear it apart.  The storm blew up so quickly, in fact, that the winds speeds intensified by 100 mph within 24 hours between Thursday and today. This is one of the fastest intensifications caught on satellite!

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Hurricane Patricia as it made landfall, Oct. 23, 2015. Click on the image to enlarge.

The storm made landfall as a Category 5 hurricane, with winds weakening to 160 mph once away from the very warm waters and over land. This will still be a catastrophic event for those in coastal Mexico.  Besides the wind, the number 1 killer in hurricanes is flooding, from rain and the storm surge. The storm will weaken over Saturday to tropical storm strength winds over 74 mph, with flooding rain coming with it. The remnants of the storm should hold together enough to bring flooding rain to Texas as well.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.

For comparison, the 200 mph winds at the storm’s peak were at the same strength of the EF-4 Fairdale tornado!  The scary thing about this hurricane is that those 200 mph winds are spread over 15 miles, rather than 0.4 miles with the Fairdale tornado. The tornado’s winds may only last a few minutes; the hurricane winds can last upwards of an hour.  Winds that strong can strip the bark off of a tree, if the tree is still standing.

A few other quick facts about Patricia, courtesy of Phil Klotzbach, Colorado State University:

 

  • Patricia is the 22nd Category 4-5 hurricane in the Northern Hemisphere this season, beating the old record of 18 established in 1997 and 2004.
  • Patricia is the 15th hurricane of the Northeast Pacific season. Only 1992 had more hurricanes (16) through October 22.
  • Patricia is the 24th tropical cyclone to form in the Northeast Pacific this season. Only 1992 had more (26) through October 21
  • Patricia is the 9th category 4 or 5 storm in the Northeast Pacific, exceeding the old record of 8 set in 1997, when another strong El Niño was in place.

Of course, our thoughts and prayer go out to those in Mexico this weekend as they try to ride out the storm.

– Alex

 

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 23, 2015

Fire Danger

Oct 19, 2015: For the third time in the last 7 days, we dealt with strong winds, gusting over 30 mph. These pesky wind gusts can make walking and driving difficult, and make your yard messy with leaves, to say the least.

A bigger issue with the strong wind gusts this last week has been with brush fires. Each of the windy days has resulted in at least a couple brush fires sparking up and spreading quickly.  Today featured the most ideal setting for out of control brush fires, prompting a Red Flag Warning from the National Weather Service.

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What is a Red Flag Warning? These are issued when dangerous fire conditions exist. In these weather conditions, a brush or wild fire can spread rapidly, making the fire very difficult to control and put out, if not caught quickly.

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Strong winds are able to blow sparks, embers, and flame around very easily. Add in dry air and warm temperatures, and the environment helps spark and spread a fire quickly. To top it all off, dry brush and crops provide great fuel for the fires to consume. We’ve barely had any rain over the last month, so there are plenty of fields and lawns that are very dry. Combine all of these, and the situation can be dangerous, as explosive fire development can occur if one gets started.

As we’ve seen in the last week, several brush fires have spread quickly in these conditions, with each of the windy days featuring at least a couple brush fires. Remember, on windy and dry days, especially when we’ve gone a while without rain, avoid open burning, and be very careful with any work with flames, sparks, or embers. Always dispose of cigarettes properly, and never leave a fire or coals unattended (not just in windy weather- in any circumstance).

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We should get a little shower activity starting Tuesday evening, which will help moisten up our area, and reduced some of the fire danger on the next windy day.

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 19, 2015

Fire and Ice

Oct. 12, 2015:

This week will be book-ended by two weather-related events that can be harmful if you are not careful.

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We’ll start with the ‘fire’ end of things: today a few field fires sparked up, with one jumping over to a residential area, because of the wind.  Remember, on windy days, flames, sparks, and embers can spread and be carried quickly by the wind. That means one careless spark can start a fire in a hurry. Not helping matters is the fairly dry brush around the Stateline.  We haven’t had a ton of rain, meaning there’s plenty of dry fuel for fires to consume.

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We should have the winds die down by Tuesday night, which will help matters.

The second event is the possibility of widespread frost coming later this week. Between Friday night and Saturday night, conditions will get down to the freezing point or nearby, so start thinking about what plants you may have to cover or bring inside when we get extra chilly this week.

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We are a little behind for our first frost.  According to the National Weather Service office in Chicago, Rockford and most of the Stateline usually sees the first frost of the fall between October 1st and the 10th, so we may be getting a bonus week of frost-free weather this year.

– Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 12, 2015

Packed weekend

Oct. 9, 2015: Lots of events are going on in the Stateline and the region in general. With the wild roller coaster we’ll continue to ride with the temperatures this weekend, planning for those events will be interesting.

Here’s what we have coming: temperatures will climb from the 60’s to the 80’s between Saturday and Sunday, with some windy weather in the mix.

Evening Planner

The wind will make rowing challenging for those competing in the Head of the Rock Regatta in Rockford this weekend. The strong winds on Sunday could create some waves, and push the boats around on the river.

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If you are traveling down to St. Louis to catch the Cubs and Cardinals play in the playoffs, it will be a comfortable evening, with calmer evening.

running

On Sunday, those in Chicago for the marathon will be in for a warm morning. The breeze should help some, but adjust your pace accordingly! It will be getting very warm fast during the race.

Good luck to all of the rowers, runner, spectators, baseball fans, and anyone else in the Stateline!

– Alex

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

Roller Coaster Temperatures

Oct. 8, 2015: Temperatures do a lot of dancing around in the month of October. This month, we’ve had a few days in the 50’s, followed by today nearly reaching 80°.

So, what’s typical for this roller coast month of temperature swings? Here’s the breakdown:

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We usually have average highs in the upper 60’s to 70 early in the month, then low 60’s for the middle of the month, with the upper 50’s by the end of the month.

On average, however, we see around 7 days with highs in the 70’s, so those temperatures aren’t uncommon, plus lately we’ve average 2 days in the 80’s every October, but that is usually early in the month as we transition out of September. The upswing in the upper 70’s we’ve seen lately isn’t uncommon.

We also average 14 days with highs below 60°, so there is plenty of fall weather to be had.  Brace yourselves for this one, however: lately we’ve averaged 5 days at or below 50°.  Cold days are ahead, if this is a typical October!

-Alex

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

Fall color update

October 5, 2015: The weather has been gloomy for several days in a row now, so let’s discuss something a little more bright and colorful. The fall colors are getting their start across the region!

fall color

We are starting to see some color around the Stateline; we are in the “some color” range, or around 25% of the trees showing color in our area. Northern Wisconsin is the place to be for better color.  Many locations are reporting 50% to 70% color already!  Of course, northern Wisconsin is getting colder air more frequently, and a little less sunlight being higher up in the northern hemisphere. Both of these factors causes the leaves to change earlier than around our area. Eventually, these factors will catch up to us.

Within the next 2 weeks, we should see a big change in the leaf color around the Stateline. Get the rakes and blowers ready; you’ll need then soon!

– Alex

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

Temperatures To Rebound

Temperatures will be rebounding throughout this next week across the Stateline. Last week temperatures were on the decline. High’s remained in the 60’s most of the week and temperatures on Sunday (10/4/15) stalled in the mid 50’s.

However, temperatures for the second week of October will actually rise to above average for this time of year. Highs will be above 70 by mid-week this week. ROLLAR COSTER TEMPS

So make sure to take advantage of the warmer weather we will be seeing this week across the Stateline

-Nick

 

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on October 4, 2015