Wet November

Nov. 30, 2015: No big surprise here: November was definitely on the wet side, especially after a record-setting Thanksgiving (wettest on record for Rockford). There’s still a little time to go, but it looks like this month will be in the top 5 at least for snow and precipitation:

Precipitation stats for November 2015. Click on image to enlarge.

Precipitation stats for November 2015. Click on image to enlarge.

With one snow storm alone, this month vaulted into the top 3 for snowiest November’s. The top spot belongs to 1947, with 14.8″ of snow.

As for precipitation (this is rainfall AND the liquid equivalent of the snow (i.e. all of the snow melted down to water)), November 2015 ranks at least in the top 4. The official total will be know after midnight, and there is a little more rain that may fall and could nudge the precipitation total of the month into the top 3.

November 2015 will also be know for the very mild weather throughout most of the month, and the warm conditions will keep chugging along into December. More on that later this week!

– Alex


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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 30, 2015

Soggy holiday!

Nov. 27, 2015: Hopefully the wet weather didn’t put a damper on your Thanksgiving plans (or cancel the annual backyard football game). At the very least, this Thanksgiving will go down in history!


The soaking showers put Thanksgiving 2015 in the record books as the wettest in Rockford’s history. We have to go back nearly 100 years for the last really soggy holiday; keep in mind the date of Thanksgiving changes, even to the day doesn’t (the fourth Thursday in November, annually).

We hope your turkey and stuffing were moist, but not as moist as the soggy weather!

– Alex


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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 27, 2015

Holiday travel outlook

Nov. 24, 2015: The weather can make a mess of holiday travel, especially as we get into the later months of the year and have to deal with snow, cold, and ice.

Thankfully, we don’t have to deal with that for a 2nd week in a row. The Pacific Northwest gets a heaping does of winter leading up to the holiday.


Winter Storm Warnings, Winter Weather Advisories, and even a few Blizzard Warnings stretch from Seattle to Wyoming. Up to a foot of snow will fall across these states in the next day or so, which could snarl holiday traffic.

pattern 3

As for the rest of the country, the weather is quiet until the heavy rain showers get going on Thanksgiving. The heavy rain will affect the middle of the country, then slide east by the weekend.

winter list 2

Closer to home, we’ll be dealing with fog tomorrow as the snowpack melts in our area. Remember to slow down on the roads if you encounter hard-to-see conditions.

winter list

By Thursday, we will see drizzly weather through most of the day, then rain showers Thursday evening and night. Those showers may be heavy at times, which could lead to 1″ to 2″ of new rainfall between Thursday and Friday morning. Plan accordingly, as the showers may slow down your drive, or leave plenty of puddles and mud in your or your host’s house if you get a game of backyard football going before dinner!



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 24, 2015

Snowpack in action and soggy weather coming

Nov. 23, 2015: Our mild November was interrupted by a winter preview, to say the least. The impressive snowfall from this past weekend will be melting away this week as we get back to fall weather, at least for a few days.

The warm-up will be slow at first, however, thanks to the properties of the snowpack.  We see this a lot in the winter, when the mercury in the thermometers across the Stateline barely rises between the weak winter sunshine and a layer of snow on the ground.

cloud coverThe white color of the snow reflects light, resulting in the sun’s energy mostly bouncing back into the atmosphere.  Whatever doesn’t get reflected, which isn’t much, goes into melting the snow. The ground, therefore, doesn’t get warmed up, so our air temperature in turn barely warms. Without the snowpack, the sun’s energy goes into heating up the ground, which in turn heats up the air (as happens all year round on a normal, snow-free day).

temperature midwestWe saw that in action today across the Midwest. There’s an area of blue on the map showing temperatures in the 30’s across Iowa and into Illinois and Michigan, surrounded by warmer weather. A close-by locations, like La Crosse, WI and Minneapolis, MN, didn’t get much snow at all this weekend, and warmed into the middle 40’s, or 10° warmer than we here in the Stateline with over 9″ of snow on the ground.

PATTERN PATTERN 2The weather should warm up to the 50’s by Thanksgiving, meaning a lot of the snow will be melted away by the time Thursday rolls around. By that time, the atmosphere will be warm enough for rain, and we may see a lot of it. A wet pattern sets up by Thursday, giving us possibly up to an inch of rain between Thursday and Friday.

pattern 3For those traveling this week, the weather will have activity elsewhere. Rain and snow hit the Pacific Northwest tomorrow, then snow and freezing rain move into the Midwest by Thanksgiving. We will be under the soaking showers, while the East Coast looks to stay quiet and mild for most of the week.

Safe travels to anyone leaving for the holidays, and stay tuned for updates on the rainy weather this week if you are staying close to home!



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

How Snow Totals are Documented

After receiving our first snowfall of the winter there was one question many viewers were asking…why was the official total so low at 8.8″? The answer isn’t as complicated as you might think. There is no perfect way to get snow totals for one location. When looking at snow totals on a micro-scale they differ a ton. That is why the National Weather Service uses ASOS (Automated Service Observing Systems). These weather systems can collect data such as temperature, dew point, temperature, wind speeds, cloud conditions, rain totals, and snow totals to name a few. This information gets collected and then documented by the NWS.

Here is a map of all the ASOS stations across the nation:


The information from these sites are the most precise weather data meteorologist can collect. The data helps with research and climate data for that area. These systems aren’t effected by blowing/drifting snow when calculating accumulation totals.

This previous snow event can show how difficult forecasting snow events can be. All it takes is one little heavy snow band within a system to bust a forecast for a meteorologist and that occurred in some areas of the Stateline Friday and Saturday. Areas just northeast and west of the Rockford Metro experience those heavier snow bands and that’s what lead to amounts reaching over a foot of snow. The gradient between snow bands was very tight during this event and that’s why just six miles away from a specific location could have received 5-8 more inches of snow.

Due to these heavy snow bands within a system there will never be a measurement the same in all areas of a large city like Rockford. The NWS does take into account spotter reports all across the area for when they release snow total graphics as seen below.

snowfall recap nws


Although the official report will be looked at as 8.8″ it is known that across the Stateline anywhere from 8-18″ of snow fell during this event.

– Nick



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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 22, 2015

Impressive event

Nov. 20, 2015: Right on time, our first snowfall of the season is here! We usually see our first 0.1″+ (i.e. our first measurable snow) today (the 20th) in Rockford.

We are getting a lot more than 0.1″ of snow this evening and tomorrow. The snow totals may rank among the top November snow events in Rockford.

Courtesy of the National Weather Service- Chicago office, here’s the rankings:

  1. November 6-7, 1951: 9.5″
  2. November 27, 1995: 6.6″
  3. November 17-18, 1926: 6.0″
  4. November 30, 2004: 5.2″
  5. November 26-27, 1950: 5.0″
  6. November 10-11, 1947: 4.8″
  7. November 28, 1968: 4.5″
  8. November 26-27, 1975: 4.4″
  9. November 30, 2008: 4.3″
  10. November 18, 1926: 4.2″

Our forecast is currently 6″ to 9″ in Rockford, which could put us easily in the top 3 all-time if that much falls across the area.

This season is getting off to a much faster start for snow than last year.  Here’s the month-by-month totals:

November 2014: 3.5″

December 2014: 0.1″ (!)

January 2015: 9.5″

February 2015: 14.7″ (most of that falling during the Groundhog Day/Super Bowl Blizzard).

Stay with www.wrex.com/weather throughout the weekend for updates on this storm.





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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 20, 2015

Here comes the first winter storm

Nov. 19, 2015: Our 1st storm of the season will barrel into the Stateline starting Friday night and lasting into Saturday morning. Usually the first snowfall catches residents and motorists a little off guard, and this particular storm packs a punch. Because this winter storm will drop several inches of snow over our area, make sure you are ready ahead of the storm; don’t let this storm sneak up on you!

futuretrack 2

Futuretrack showing heavy snowfall after midnight Friday night.

As with yesterday, this forecast may change a little as the storm approaches, but the outlook on the storm’s path, intensity, and timing has come into better focus.

The timing on Friday night's snow storm.

The timing on Friday night’s snow storm.

The storm should arrive after 6 pm in the Stateline, starting out as a rain/snow mix because of warmer lower level air and ground temperatures.  Precipitation should transition quickly to snow after 8 pm, with moderate to heavy snow showers kicking in after midnight. After a night full of heavier snow showers, we see light snow Saturday morning, then dry weather by Saturday afternoon.

Impacts of this incoming winter storm

Impacts of this incoming winter storm

How will that impact you? Besides a lot to shovel or snow blow Saturday morning, the roads will become treacherous late Friday night and Saturday morning. Because snow may be coming down at 1″/hour, the roads will quickly become snow covered, so avoid travel unless necessary late Friday night and early Saturday morning. Thankfully, we avoid heavy snow during the Friday drive home from work, but roads may be wet Friday evening. We should also avoid any freezing rain during the transition to all snow, which helps keep the roads ice-free.

Now that snow has entered the forecast, it would be a good idea to get your home and vehicles ready for snow, even if we don’t see any more for a while after this storm. Here’s a list of items you should have stocked up for the winter, from the National Weather Service:

WinterPrepardness Winter Preparedness2

You may want to get some of these items in your car or truck now, so you can get through this weekend. Start gathering up everything else, so you are ready in case you lose power during the next storm.

If you were thinking of taking off for the holiday this weekend, avoid traveling Friday night and most of Saturday. The weather will be better for travel by Sunday, and stay smooth until the middle of next week, with a few chances for rain pop up between Wednesday and Friday.

Stay with WREX for the latest on this winter storm. Check out www.wrex.com/weather for more.




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

Snow Is On The Way

Nov. 18, 2015: It’s been a mild November so far, but head’s up! We get a taste of winter this weekend.

Before you start thinking that it’s too early for snow, this time of year is about when we start seeing our first dusting of snow in the Stateline.


Average dates for our first snow amounts.

We haven’t had our first snowflakes yet this fall season, so we are a little behind on that. This Friday happens to be the 20th, so our first accumulation is right on average.

What are we looking at? Several inches of snow look to fall between Friday night and Saturday morning, with lighter amounts north and south of the heavier band of snow.


Right now, it looks like the Stateline is right under the heavier band, with lighter amounts closer to Madison and south of I-80.

There is still a high amount of uncertainty with the storm track with this system. If the low wiggles more to the north, the heavier snow will be in southern Wisconsin, leaving us with lighter now (same if the low tracks more to the south).

futuretrack 2

The forecast for the storm track is still uncertain, which will dramatically change the snow amounts, depending on its direction.

The reason for the uncertainty? The low is still over the Pacific, which means there’s less data to analyze. Once it comes on-shore tomorrow, the storm track will become clearer, thanks to the amount of weather sensors and tools on land.

snow headlines

Stay tuned for snow amounts and timing on this storm. You may see maps of different forecast models throwing out outrageous amounts, so keep in mind that a lot may change over the next 60 hours (which is a lot of time before this event!).

What you can do is start prepping for this event, regardless of how much snow falls, since we are almost to Winter anyway.


Do you have all of your winter tools, including the snow blower, in working order and ready to go? Have you started putting together your winter emergency kit for your house and vehicle? What about winterizing your vehicle and house? This early snow storm is a nice reminder to start getting things ready! Also, start thinking about your Friday night and Saturday morning plans. Do they need to be adjusted, in case of winter weather?  No need to cancel anything, just food for thought!

– Alex




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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 18, 2015

Winter Preparedness: Heading Outside

Nov. 17, 2015: Day 2 of Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois, and the topic: out and about outside.

Living in the Midwest, you likely know how to dress, but a few friendly reminders:


Layers are the best way to keep warmth in, but make sure they are loose and lightweight. Heavy and tight-fitting layers speed up heat loss by making contact with your skin. This is why mittens are better than gloves, since your fingers aren’t placed into a tighter fitting area.

Make sure to cover up exposed skin, especially your hands, nose, and ears. These areas lose heat the quickest, since they are out and away from the body. Your head also loses heat much faster than the rest of the your body as well, so having a hat handy is a good habit to be in.

Finally, make sure to take it easy on yourself when it comes to shoveling snow. Snow shoveling is a notorious cause for heart attacks in the winter, especially when the snow is wet and difficult to move. Take plenty of breaks, and ask someone to help if you aren’t in the best physical health.

More topics to come this week- stay tuned!

– Alex


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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on November 17, 2015

Winter Weather Preparedness Week

Nov 11, 2015: This week is the National Weather Service’s Winter Weather Preparedness Week in Illinois! The point of the week is to help get you ready BEFORE the snow starts falling.

We are going to start out with a few terms used during severe winter weather. Make sure you familiarize yourself with these terms, so you know what the warnings means and how to get ready for them.


As with spring/summer severe weather, any time a WATCH is issued (like a Winter Storm Watch, or a Wind Chill Watch), that means hazardous weather is looming, so get ready now. Watches are usually issued 24 to 72 hours ahead of dangerous winter weather.

An ADVISORY is issued when hazardous winter weather will occur soon (12 to 36 hours from the issue time), or is occurring. “Hazardous” weather means the conditions are not life-threatening, BUT you’ll need to exercise caution, as the weather conditions may be harmful if you aren’t careful. Example: a Winter Weather Advisory is usually issued for a few inches of snow (say, 2″ to 4″).  This isn’t dangerous, as long as you take it slower on the roads.

A WARNING means dangerous (life-threatening) conditions will occur soon or are occurring. This is when you should try to stay indoors and off the roads as much as possible, because the weather is very hazardous, either from the cold, snow, wind, or a combination of all of those.

By the time a warning or advisory has been issued, you should be ready! Don’t wait until the warning or advisory starts, because it might be too late to avoid the hazardous weather. Stock up and have the necessary clothing ahead of time.

We’ll be sharing more facts from the National Weather Service all throughout the week, so stay tuned!

– Alex


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