Taking the rain check

It’s no secret we’re in the hole when it comes to rainfall. June’s surplus was exhausted late last month. In fact, the new drought monitor should be out on Thursday with us possibly heading a smidge deeper into a level-0 drought or even level-1!

2 Here’s a look at the amount of rainfall observed at the Chicago/Rockford International Airport. You can clearly see the abundance of rain we had in June. Remember that? Rivers were at flood and we wondered if we’d ever see the hot, dry weather for the summer! But things dramatically shifted dry and that pattern lasted through July, August, and into the first few days of September.

3This is a look at the amount of rainfall that is normal for each of the months. (Even though the line dips remarkably in September, keep in mind that that’s just for the first four days of the month).


Posted under drought

This post was written by qni_it on September 4, 2013

The Week Ahead

CaptureWe are entering our first week of above average temperatures in quite some time, and could see our first 90° day in over a month! High temperatures will be on the rise this week with the lowest high temperature clocking in at 86 degrees. So far this month we have seen 11 of our 18 days BELOW average with respect to high temperatures, so this will be a welcomed change for some! The downside to the week ahead is the lack of rainfall that is expected. We only have one chance for rain (at 20%) late Thursday into early Friday, and are already 1.42″ under the average precipitation through the date in August. -Greg


Posted under drought, heat wave, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on August 19, 2013

Dry Stretch Continues

While Rockford—and nearly every other community in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin—has a rainfall surplus for the 2013 calendar year, the month of August is lagging behind.  Statistically speaking, August is typically our second wettest month of the year with 4.59 inches of rain expected over 31 days.  That is not the case this year.

From August 1st through now, Rockford would normally pick up around 2.60 inches of rain.  However, only 1.33 inches of rain has fallen into the rain gauge at Chicago Rockford International Airport.  Most of that total—1.12 inches—came on Tuesday, August 6th.  The last time any rain was recorded at the airport was on Sunday, August 11th.  Only 0.05 inches fell that day.  The outlook is not very promising.


Over the course of the next 7 days, forecast models keep us completely dry in some cases.  Other scenarios only show up to a quarter-inch of rain falling across the area.  The reason behind this is the shift in our general weather pattern—different from what we saw earlier this month.  A ridge pattern in the middle of the country will keep the jet stream along the U.S.-Canadian border.  High pressure will mainly be in control, which means any active weather will stay well north and south of the Stateline.


The best chance of rain comes on Thursday and may linger into Friday as a system with limited moisture dives south out of northern Wisconsin.  But that chance of rain is just 20% right now.



Posted under drought, rain, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on August 17, 2013

Wet fields delay crop planting this spring

CaptureA good indicator when farmers can get in their fields is the soil temperature. Once the temperature of the first four inches of soil reached 50 degrees, seeds are warm enough to germinate.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), soil temperatures are 55-60 degrees for most of Northern Illinois with Southern Wisconsin exceeding that 50 degree mark.

So why are we so far behind in planting this year? Too much rain! Imagine that! After a significant drought last year, we are getting too much rainall this year! In fact, some spots in the Midwest saw their rainiest April on record! Capture2While our drought is officially over, it continues across the Plains States from South Dakota down into much of Texas.

On average, Illinois farmers are about half way through planting. However this year due to extreme rainfall, only 7% of the corn has been planted.


In Wisconsin, only 4% of the state’s corn has been planted with the average being 26%. Continued dry weather will ensure the number goes up, but rainfall is in the forecast for Illinois and Wisconsin Thursday. Some locations in Northern Illinois could receive in excess of an inch. Wisconsin will remain a bit drier.


Looking at statistics from the USDA for the nation: 12% of the corn is planted which is the slowest pace since 1984. It is very similar to  1993 when much of the Midwest was dealing with record flooding. -Eric






Posted under climate/climate change, drought, flooding, news

This post was written by qni_it on May 7, 2013

Ahead of Schedule

We are three full months into 2013 and are currently sitting with a surplus of precipitation in the bucket this year. Last year at this time we were slowly slipping into a drought that would last the entire year and bring us summer temps that broke records. This year we have been below average in terms of high temperatures, but above average in precip. Our next round of showers moves into the area on Saturday with the possibility of some thunder mixed in. That combined with an active pattern early next week could help us keep this precipitation surplus going! -Greg1


Posted under drought, rain, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on April 4, 2013

Diminishing Drought!

According to the United States Drought Monitor, Northern Illinois is still abnormally dry and the rest of Illinois is currently not under drought conditions.

Just three months ago, 78% of Illinois was abnormally dry, while 40% was under moderate drought conditions, and 9% (including us) under severe! We can thank those “spring” snow storms, along with the January and February rain and snow showers for pulling all but 16% of Illinois out of dry conditions.

We’ve actually had an excess of precipitation since the start of the year, compared to our normal of 4.82 inches for January, February, and March here in Rockford. January brought us 3.09 inches, slightly less from February at 2.98 inches, and just over 2 and a quarter inches so far this month. These precipitation amounts total to 8.36 inches and nearly double our precipitation totals for the same three months in 2012 (4.63 inches).

There is a little bit of rain and rain/snow mix in the forecast for the weekend, so don’t forget to check the updated U.S. Drought Monitor on Thursday. In the meantime, Northern Illinois will slowly chip away those abnormally dry conditions.


Posted under 13 Climate Authority, climate/climate change, drought, statistics, weather

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on March 29, 2013

One Upside to Down Temps

We are closing in on the last week of March and have a very good shot at ending the month with only one day at or above the average high temperature. That is as far away from last year’s March as we could get. Last year we saw an impressive and highly unusually warm March with temperatures soaring above 80 degrees for nearly a week straight. Those well above average temperatures were a gift at the time, but they also helped spark our extreme drought that endured the rest of the year. This year’s temps are down, but our precip is steadily gaining ground and not going into the negative. I don’t know about you, but I can handle a few more weeks if it lessens our chances for another extreme drought this summer. -GregMarch


Posted under cold blast, drought, statistics, winter weather

This post was written by qni_it on March 22, 2013

Drought conditions easing

CaptureBurt Rundall sent me an e-mail this afternoon asking “How much of an impact has this winter moisture had on the drought?”

Burt, no question the recent snow events will have a positive impact on our drought conditions. But more important is looking at the long-term trend. Here, you can see the precipitation departure from normal for the past 12 months. 8 of the past 12 months have been dry, but the trend noticeably changed around Christmastime.

This past weekend, we participated in a media workshop at the National Weather Service Quad Cities Forecast Office. We discussed the drought conditions at length. Ray Wolf, Meteorologist with the NWS said it is extremely rare to have a drought go from one year into the next. Rivers are back near bank-full levels thanks to plenty of rain in December and January. Snowfall from February and March will be melting in the coming weeks which will help reinvigorate our fields and yards.

Great question Burt! -Eric

p.s. If you have a weather question, send it to us! weather@wrex.com


Posted under 13 Climate Authority, drought

This post was written by qni_it on March 6, 2013

Seven feet of snow?

Capture42012 brought the Midwest the worst drought conditions in a generation! It all began in May when we saw only 1.62 inches of rainfall, nearly 2 1/2 inches below normal!

While the drought continues now, the precipitation began to turn around in December. The problem for many snowlovers has been the warm temperatures. It was just too warm to produce much snowfall in the first few months of the winter. In December, we had a surplus of 1/2 inch, but that got even higher in January.

January 2013 was a very odd month. While we saw over 3 inches of precipitation, almost all of it came in the form of RAIN! For the month we only got 2.7 inches of snow. To make the comparison fully, the 3.09″ of precipitation, had it come as all snow, would have been 2 1/2 FEET! Okay, with that being said. What if all of our precipitation this winter season fell as snow? We’ve had 8.51 inches of precipitation. Move that decimal point over to the left one place and if all of the snow came down heavy, we would’ve seen 85 inches! The record snowiest winter season for Rockford is 74.5 inches, set 1978/1979.

Bottom line: The precipitation trend has been wonderful for our drought woes. It’s also beneficial to be making this up in the latter part of the winter season versus the early part. Heading into March, it will prep our precious agricultural zones with much-needed moisture and nutrients! -Eric


Posted under drought, rain, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on February 27, 2013

Light Snow Adds Up

A weak Alberta Clipper system that dived south out of Canada brought some light snow to northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin on Wednesday.  Nearly all of us picked up a light dusting of snow.  Some locations picked up a bit more, especially west of the Rock River.  Galena led the way with 2 inches, observed just southeast of town.  Both Freeport and Dixon picked up around an inch to an inch and half.

At Chicago Rockford International Airport, about a quarter of an inch was observed (similar to most local areas).  How does Rockford fare this season, now that meteorological winter is halfway over?  Not surprisingly, our snowfall deficit is significant: nearly 18 inches below normal!  At RFD, only 2.9 inches of snow has fallen this season.  While measurable snow (0.1 inches or more) has occurred on just 6 days, a trace amount of snow occurred on 17 days!  A ‘trace’ means that snow has fallen, but it’s not significant enough to measure (less than 0.1 inches).

Our next snow maker will come in the form of another Alberta Clipper late Thursday into Friday.  Another round of light snow with similar accumulations can be expected.



Posted under drought, snow, statistics, weather, winter weather

This post was written by qni_it on January 23, 2013