Summer 2016 Outlook

May 31, 2016: Here comes Summer 2016! Well, at least “meteorological summer” starts June 1st. It is looking likely that we’ll have a warmer to hot summer ahead.

Billboard 3

First, we’ve been on a hot streak leading up to the start of summer. Today marked the 11th day in a row in the 80’s, which is a rare streak for May. In fact, this is the 4th longest stretch of 80’s that we’ve seen in May. The streak ends today, since the month is ending.

Looking ahead to the summer months, we may be in for a pretty warm summer. Overall, we are transitioning from El Niño to La Niña. This has bigger implications during our winters (a La Niña this winter may mean colder than average conditions), but during the change to La Niña during the summer usually means hot weather is ahead.

The Climate Prediction Center’s outlook for the summer months (June, July, August) looks like this:

Summer Outlook2

Much of the West Coast, and sections of the Northeast are looking likely to have a hot summer. Much of the East, including sections of Wisconsin and northeast Illinois, will likely have warmer than average weather. This means plenty of warm days in the upper 80’s to possibly plenty of 90° days, but still some cool days and not too many unbearable hot stretches.

Summer Outlook

The weather pattern also looks to keep us near average for rainfall, but it could be a wet summer for much of Nebraska, Wyoming, and Colorado. New England also looks to be wetter than usual.

Remember, this is an average of all 3 summer months, so in total we should be warm to hot this summer, but day-to-day and month-to-month may vary a little with cool or wet weather or both popping up from time to time.

Get ready to bring on the heat! Cheers to summer!



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 31, 2016

Why so stormy?

May 25, 2016: Scattered showers and thunderstorms do not seem to want to leave the forecast, with chances for rain nearly every day into next week. As we’ve seen, this doesn’t mean rain all day. However, we are seeing spotty thunderstorms become more frequent the later into the week we get.  This trend carries on into next week, meaning you may be dodging raindrops as late as next Wednesday.

So why are we seeing so many chances for rain, and why can’t the forecast be a little more concise on when the rain arrives? Here’s the overall pattern:

WREX 2016The jet stream will be in a similar pattern almost all week and into the weekend.  You can see the jet stream cutting right across the Midwest, which helps direct subtle waves of energy into our region. These waves help trigger storms if conditions are right. We’ll see plenty of these “triggers” slide by, giving us plenty of chances for rain as a result.

The one issue, is that these subtle waves or “triggers” are a little difficult to track when and where they show up, providing a lot of uncertainty to the forecast. That’s why we have broad chances for rain, rather than pinpoint time frames. The forecast does usually get clearer the closer we get to the rain showing up.

WREX 2016 2

Helping fuel the extra rain chances is the much warmer, muggy air that started to set up today.  With humid, warm air, storms are a little more likely to form, plus we have higher chances for heavier rain with the extra moisture in the air.

The good news is that the end of the holiday weekend may be a little quieter, as that broad, unsettled weather pattern begins to break down.

– Alex


Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 25, 2016

Once in a blue moon!

May 20th, 2016: It doesn’t happen too often, but we have a blue moon coming Saturday night!

No, the moon won’t be blue (how cool would that be?!), but it is a special event. A blue moon is essentially an “extra” full moon. It has a few definitions though.


A blue moon is considered: a) the 2nd full moon of the month (a month typically has only one full moon), OR b) the 3rd full moon in a season with 4 full moons (a season typically has 3 full moons, since we have 3 months per season). The second definition is considered the “older” or “more historical” definition, but either apply.


This weekend features the 2nd type of blue moon.  This will be the 3rd of 4 full moons this spring.  Making this “rare” full moon a little more special is a visit from a friend: Mars! If you go out Saturday night and look at the full moon, you’ll see a red-looking bright “star” near the full moon.  That isn’t a star, however, it’s Mars!  Mars is at its closest to Earth in its orbit, which is why it will be bright in our sky.  If you have a telescope, you’ll be able to see some features of Mars, so get out and enjoy the night sky!



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 20, 2016

Thirsty lawns

May 18th, 2016: After a rainy week last week (at least 1 1/2″ of rain each night from last Monday to last Friday), we have almost the complete opposite this week: dry weather is in the forecast through next Tuesday. By this point, many of you have a garden or outdoor plants started, plus you are keeping up with keeping your lawn nice and green. This is a good time to get into good habits before the summer starts.

lawn tips

A healthy lawn needs around 1″ of rain or water per week during the spring and summer. Before you drag out the sprinklers, first: make sure to the forecast! If there’s rain coming, hold off on the watering until you see how much rain is coming. 1/2″ in the forecast? Then you only need to add 1/2″ of water to your lawn to help it out.  You can keep track on how much you have watered by putting a container like a coffee can marked to 1″ (or less, if there’s rain in the forecast). Once the water in the can gets to that 1″ mark, turn off the sprinklers and you’re done!

water in the morning

Best time to do this? Early in the morning.  Waiting until later in the day means the sun is more intense, evaporating a lot of the water as it tries to soak in. This means you have to add more water than you need to the lawn, which hurts the environment and your wallet!  You should also add water to the lawn all at once.  Watering a little at a time promotes shallow roots in the grass, which isn’t the best for your lawn.

Remember- if it gets really dry for a while this summer, it’s ok to let your lawn go dormant for a while! It might look a little brown, but it will bounce back once wet weather returns to the forecast. Your lawn won’t be harmed, plus you’ll save a little money by not trying to keep up each week.

– Alex


Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 18, 2016

When will we be free of frost?

May 17, 2016: We are getting close to the time of year when frost is no longer an issue, but we aren’t quite there yet.  Patchy frost may pop up again across the Stateline tonight.

Billboard 3

You may be asking yourself: “Wait a minute. How can we see frost without getting down to freezing?”  Here’s how:

Frost While Above Freezing

As the ground cools, the heat that leaves the ground floats upward to where thermometers usually are hanging. Since this is around 5 feet off of the ground, our air temperature readings measure a few degrees warmer than the ground temperature (and we have this setup because we care more about how warm the air is at our torso level than right at the ground.  How often are you lying right on the ground, that you would need the ground temperature?).

Those few degrees make a difference if we are close to freezing, resulting in frost even though the air temperature is still closer to 40°.

When will we be done with these chilly nights? Very soon! The forecast for the rest of the week has temperatures climbing into the 70’s and 80’s for highs, so our lows will climb into the 50’s. I also did a little research, just to see when our last night with 40° or colder is for the season, on average.  I found, in a typical year, that after May 21st, we usually are free of the frosty nights (we stay above 40° for the low temperature). We’ll pass that date over the weekend.

This summer should be above average for temperature, so the worst-case scenario shouldn’t happen, but just for fun, guess when the latest date we’ve ever had in Rockford with lows still below 40°? June 21, 1992! That is right around the start of summer! Can you imagine still having frost possible until the 1st day of the summer season?  We shouldn’t (hopefully) have to worry about that this year!



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 17, 2016

Project: Tornado- Put your severe weather plan in place

May 13, 2016- So far this “severe weather season”, it’s been pretty quiet.  There were a few stronger storms earlier this week, but we haven’t seen much for severe weather.  You should be ready no matter what, which is why our Project: Tornado initiative is out talking to kids through next week, to help them understand the importance of having a severe weather plan.

Is your severe weather plan ready to go?

Here’s a couple handy reminders (or tips to help you get started):

1) Know where to go: this starts at home, but also know where to go at work, school, etc. That location definitely will change from place to place.

-Pick an interior room (one that’s away from the outside walls and away from windows) that’s on the lowest level. Preferably, this is a basement, but it could be a closet or a bathroom (as long as there aren’t any windows!). Everyone should know where this place is and know that this is the “safe spot” to go to during severe weather.

-It may be handy to stock this room or area with bottles of water, a first aid kit, heavy blankets, sturdy shoes or boots, and maybe even bike helmets to help protect you from flying or falling objects.  You may even want to have a list of emergency contacts and insurance information in this area or kit too!

2) Have as many ways to get severe weather alerts as possible. This may be the TV or radio leading up to and during severe weather. You can also stream this coverage on a laptop or tablet (though make sure you can still get to the internet in case the power and Wi-Fi go out). A weather radio is a great tool to have; this will make a loud noise to notify you of a warning, read you the warning information, plus it works when the power goes out.  Having weather alerts via text or a weather app is great to have too. Finally, the outdoor warning sirens are great if you are outside.  You may not hear them over the sound of the storm or whatever is going on in your house (or while you are asleep) so don’t totally rely on them!

3) Know how to get in touch.  This may be different from friend to friend or family member to family member.  They should know how to best get a hold of you during or after an emergency, and vice versa. Sometimes sending a text may be better than trying to call. Get a system set up, so your family and friends can quickly find out if you are safe, or need help.

4) You should also have a “meet-up” spot, in case anyone gets separated during a severe weather event.

Much like you may practice a fire drill at home, practice or talk about your severe weather plan, so everyone knows it and has it fresh in their mind.  Don’t forget- severe weather can happen at any time of the year, so keep up-to-date on the weather forecast!

If you have any questions about where to go or what to do when setting up your severe weather plan, sending a message to us via email at or message us on Facebook on the 13 Weather Authority page!  I’ll write more about severe weather preparation next week.


Facebook: Meteorologist Alex Kirchner

Twitter: @AKirchner13



Posted under weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 13, 2016

Project: Tornado- Getting ready for “tornado season”

May 10, 2016: It’s that time of year again!

The 13 Weather Authority has been visiting schools every spring for the better part of the last decade, educating area students about the science behind tornadoes, and severe weather preparedness.  We are kicking off another round of schools this week, visiting at least one a day through next Friday. Our goal is to make sure the kids in our area are less scared by severe weather, since they know what to do and where to go when severe weather strikes. We also hope the students we talk to every year share this information with their friends and family, so everyone in our community knows how to respond to severe weather.

The question for you is: do you know what to do? Are you ready for severe weather season?

Throughout the week and into next week, we’ll be bringing you a variety of topics to help you get ready, plus offer a few opportunities to view us live while we are in action at the schools for Project: Tornado, in addition to having a live chat about severe weather and getting ready for the season.

For starters, a little more about tornado season itself:


We typically see the majority of our tornadoes between April and June.  This is what we consider “tornado season” around the Stateline.  The reason for the season during this time frame is due to the “roller coaster” weather we usually get around this time of year; we bounce back and forth between very cool and very warm, giving us that contrast in air masses that promotes thunderstorm development. The winds throughout the atmosphere are in the right places to help with wind shear, or winds moving at different directions at different heights.  This provides the “spin” needed in the atmosphere for rotating storms and severe weather.

Severe weather set-up

IMPORTANT: remember that we can get severe weather and tornadoes at any time of the year! Tornadoes have touched down in northern Illinois in November (the Washington tornado in 2013 is an example), or even in January (the Poplar Grove tornado in 2008). As long as the conditions are set up right, we can get tornadoes even in the winter.

Most tornadoes pop up in late afternoon to evening hours in the Stateline.  Again, don’t think we can’t get overnight or early morning tornadoes, but the majority develop later in the day.  As you may have guessed, the later afternoon hours are the hottest parts of the day, so the amount of energy built up in the atmosphere is at its highest. If we can get something to act as a trigger, storms will explosively develop and lead to severe weather.

Since we are in the middle of May, we are smack dab in the middle of tornado “season”. If you aren’t prepared for severe weather already, this is the time to do it!

The National Weather Service has a great breakdown of the steps you need to take to be ready for severe weather. It’s called PPMA, or “Prepare, Practice, Monitor, Act”.


Right now you should be taking the “prepare” and “practice” steps.  I’ll talk more about all of these steps in the coming days, but here’s something to get you started:


-Start by reviewing your severe weather plan.  Do you know where to go at home, work, school, etc. if there’s severe weather?

-Do your family and friends know this plan, where to meet, and how to get a hold of one another before, during, and after severe weather strikes?

-What ways do you have to get weather information and severe weather alerts? Are all of these methods on, working, and in a place that you will be able to hear them in case of an alert?

Start going through these questions, and we’ll provide some tips and suggestions throughout the week!



Posted under Project: Tornado, severe weather, tornado, weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 10, 2016