Stuck in the rinse cycle

Sep. 30, 2016: The weather has gloomy for a couple days this week, and now we get one more of those days for October 1st (with effects possibly lingering into October 2nd). Why? We have a pesky area of low pressure to thank.

The low waltzed into the region on Wednesday, bringing us brisk, windy, and drizzly weather. The low then got stuck over Ohio, and now is wobbling backward toward the Stateline, providing drizzly weather for Friday and Saturday, with a few showers mixed in for good measure.

cut off low

How did it get stuck? We call this weather pattern a “cut-off low”, because the low got “cut off” from the main flow across the U.S. Without the jet stream pushing this low along, it simply spins its gears until the jet stream is able to sweep it up again.

As a result, we get stuck with a consistently cloudy, soggy, and cool weather pattern (as long as we are under the low). Elsewhere, the weather stays nice.

WREX2 (2)

 

Interesting fact that was observed this week, and at times pops up with these cut-off patterns: we had rain and clouds coming in from the east to northeast. We usually don’t see our rain come in from that direction! This is due to the air flow around an area of low pressure. It’s always flowing in a counterclockwise direction. Normally weather systems flow from west to east around us, but if we get something like this where the low is able to move “backward” and to the west, we get showers flowing in from an unusual direction.

The low gets slowly kicked out on Sunday, allowing drier and warmer weather to spill in for next week.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 30, 2016

Welcome to Fall! (Wait, what season is it?)

Sep. 21, 2016: Autumn 2016 officially kicks off Thursday at 9:21 AM!

Tomorrow’s weather, however, is a good reminder that the season outside usually has trouble lining up with the season the calendar.

1st of fall

The “official” start to fall occurs during the autumnal equinox, or when the Earth is lined up straight up and down on its axis. Night and day are roughly equal, and we are at the halfway point between the solstices (the longest and shortest day of the year). That point occurs at 9:21 am this year. Because of the way light bends through our atmosphere, sunrise and sunset don’t line up exactly on this date, but within a day or two we’ll see them as close as possible before we slip under the 12 hour mark for daylight and night becomes longer than day.

1st of fall OR NOT

As you can see, we usually still have highs in the low 70’s, with some brisk nights flirting with the 40’s. At least this time around, it will still feel like summer outside. Highs should be about 10 degrees above average, and conditions will feel even warmer than that with the humidity. We can even see days in the low 90’s, if we get the right setup to set a record, like the one for Thursday set in 1937.

Cold Blast 2

So, what gives? Where did fall go? We are in the midst of a weather pattern that we typically see more during the summer months. The jet stream is arching well into Canada, allowing very warm and definitely humid air to flood the region. Right along the boundary of the warm, humid air mass are rounds of thunderstorms, which we saw plenty of today, and our neighbors to the north in Wisconsin will see plenty more of those (flash flooding will plague the area, due to all of the storms and rain they’ll get through the end of the week).

AC forecast

Starting this weekend, this pattern does break down, allowing the heat and humidity to relax a little this weekend. By next week, we’ll be getting our first good does of fall air, as there potentially may be some days in the 60’s coming soon. Hold on for now; the A/C doesn’t have to be on for too much longer!

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 21, 2016

Not done with the 80’s yet

September 15, 2016: As the days grow shorter and cooler air appears more regularly, those summer-like days start to get few and far in between. No need to fret yet; we can see the 80’s for a while into the fall! In fact, Rockford snuck up to 80° this afternoon.

last of the 80s

On average, we see our last day in the 80’s around October 2nd. Some years, like last year, the 80’s linger well into the middle of the month. In 2007, one of our latest 80 degree days was felt on October 21st!

We usually see around 10 days in the 80’s during an average September, or about 1/3 of the month; right now, we are sitting at 8 days, with a few more in the forecast.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 15, 2016

Losing Daylight

September 14, 2016: You may have noticed the days getting a lot shorter lately, which is a clear sign that fall is almost here. The autumnal equinox (our “official” start of fall) is next Thursday, the 22nd. That’s when the Earth is roughly straight up and down on its axis, giving us nearly equal hours of daytime and nighttime. The tilt of the Earth is also why we’re getting shorter days; the sun is lower on the horizon, reducing the amount of time it’s “up” in the sky.

losing daylight 1

The closer we get to this date, the quicker we end up losing daylight. We’ve seen our amount of daytime shrink by about 3 minutes a day since the start of the month. It may not sound like much, but over the course of 10 days, we lose a good 30 minutes of daylight, with another 30 minutes gone by the beginning of Autumn. That’s 1 hour of daytime gone in about 3 weeks!

losing daylight 2

In total, we’ve lost nearly 3 hours of daylight from the start of summer (approximately the longest day of the year) until now. I know this isn’t fun to think about, but we’ll keep losing daylight until the start of winter. By then, sunrise will be at 7:22 am on December 21, with sunset at 4:27 pm. We’ll lose another 3 hours of daylight before we reverse course and the days slowly get longer.

-Alex

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This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 14, 2016