Once in a Blue Moon…

July 29, 2015: “Once in a Blue Moon” is actually going to happen this Friday! More specifically, a full moon will occur late Thursday night into Friday morning.  The “Blue Moon” is the term for the 2nd full moon of the month (and not because it turns blue).

Click on image to enlarge.

Click on image to enlarge.

While the phrase “once in a blue moon” is used to describe something rare, the actual occurrence of a blue moon isn’t all that rare. The average lunar cycle (from full to new and back again) lunar cycle is 29 1/2 days, so almost every month can have 2 full moons if the timing is right. I say almost because February is the only month that can’t.  Sorry February; 28 days just doesn’t cut it.

The definition of the blue moon has changed a little within the last few decades.  It used to mean the 3rd full moon in a season (spring, summer, etc.) with 4 full moons. A misunderstanding eventually lead to the current definition of 2 full moons in a month. No matter what the moon is called this time around, see if you get the chance to take a peek and enjoy the view Thursday night!

– Alex


Posted under event, science, space

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on July 29, 2015

Project: Tornado 2015 Wrap-up

May 21, 2015: Project: Tornado has wrapped up for another year, as we visited our last school today. While this year’s round of presentations is over, our message about severe weather preparedness isn’t!  We’ll get to that in one second.

First, a special thanks goes out to all of the teachers, principals, and administrators that invited us to visit your school and students!  We had a great time talking to all of the eager and enthusiastic children in the Stateline we got to meet within the last 4 weeks.

project tornado

Overall, 4,176 students were taught about severe weather safety and tornadoes. Each student went home with a Project: Tornado book, so our hope is that for each student that reads and shares that book with their loved one, we reach many more thousands of people about the importance of weather awareness and safety.

Severe weather season is not over yet, so make sure you are always taking the proper steps to be aware and safe during severe weather, even though we haven’t had any since the April 9 tornado outbreak. This is the same message we shared with all of the students:

– have multiple ways to get weather alerts, such as the TV, radio, text message alerts, a weather app, and a weather radio.  You can sign up for text alerts at www.wrex.com/weather, download our 13 Weather Authority app for free for your smartphone, and we will hold several more weather radio events to program a radio for you.

– know where to go and what to do when severe weather strikes.  If you hear thunder, go indoors immediately. In the event of a severe thunderstorm, get inside and stay away from the windows. Know where to go in your house, work place, etc. if a tornado threatens.  You may only have minutes to act, so have a plan in place now.

– be weather aware: stay in-tune with the weather forecast, know when severe weather may threaten, and plan accordingly. If you see rapidly changing weather, it would be best to head indoors and check with 13 WREX for updates.

Thanks again to all of the schools we visited this year!  Look for sign-up for next year’s Project: Tornado sometime in March 2016.

– Alex


Posted under event, Project: Tornado, safety, science, severe weather, tornado, weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on May 21, 2015

Project: Tornado…The Final Days

The end is near, but the reason has only just begun!
Severe weather season is in full swing, and the 13 Weather Authority has been making sure Stateline students know how to handle it by continuing Project: Tornado.

Within the last three weeks, we have traveled to 19 schools across Northern Illinois educating elementary students on how thunderstorms form and how to stay safe during a tornado. As of today, roughly 2,651 students are prepared for severe weather, and we’re still not done!
Next week, we finish off our final week of Project: Tornado, as we head to Spring Creek Elementary, Rolling Green, Barbour Language Academy, Swan Hillman and St. Mary’s School to educate another 1,200 students. This means almost 4,000 Stateline students will know exactly what to do when severe weather strikes.

Each student receives a Project: Tornado booklet, filled with pictures, games, and important information to help them understand thunderstorm processes, tornadoes, safety, and local historic tornadoes.
Here’s a sneak peek:




























‘Severe weather ready’ students are from Conklin Elementary, Perry Elementary, Pecatonica Elementary, Keith Country Day, Jefferson Elementary, Immanuel Lutheran School, Ellis Arts Academy, Lincoln-Douglas Elementary, Rockford Lutheran Academy, Thurgood Marshall School, Ralston Elementary, C. Henry Bloom, Holy Family Catholic School, West View Elementary, Shirland School, Highland Grade School, Loves Park Elementary, Lewis Lemon Elementary, and Nashold Elementary.



Posted under event, Exactrack|HD, history, Project: Tornado, safety, science, severe weather, tornado, weather, weather geek, Wind

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on May 15, 2015

A Look Back 48 Years Ago and 11 Days Ago

We are 11 days removed from the EF-4 tornado that ripped through north central Illinois, beginning in Franklin Grove, stretching 43.5 miles through Flagg and into Fairdale. While locals and non-locals are pitching in on the effort of recovery for residents affected by 7 tornadoes on April 9th 2015, many are also remembering the devastation from a tornado that struck the Stateline nearly 48 years ago.

On April 21st, 1967 the city of Belvidere experienced a deadly tornado, with eerily similar damage to the EF-4 tornado on April 9th 2015, but this one was twelve times as deadly.

Let’s flash back to meteorology in the 1900’s. Right after World War 11, the weather community started the use of radars, which were around for about 30 years by the time the Belvidere Tornado occured.
4-9 radar imageIn 1948, less than 20 years before the 1967 tornado, Robert C. Miller and E. J. Fawbush correctly predicted the first tornado in Oklahoma.  10-15 years before the Belvidere Tornado, computers ran their first models of the atmosphere. Just 5 years before the deadly tornado hit Boone County, Keith Browning and Frank Ludlam published a detailed study of a supercell storm, the first one of it’s kind. In fact, it wasn’t until a few years after the Belvidere tornado that Dr. Tetsuya Theodore Fujita invented the “Fujita Scale.”

Are you catching my drift here? While the foundation and structure of much of meteorology was founded, knowledge and awareness was minimal on the atmosphere during the early and mid 20th century. This is a key contributor to the saved lives and safety of many Stateliners on April 9th 2015.

The tornado that devastated Boone County 48 years ago was rated an “F-4” on the Fujita Scale. According to the Fujita Scale, an F-4 tornado *estimates wind speeds between 207 and 260 mph, and typical damage includes well-constructed houses leveled, weak foundation structures blown away, and cars thrown. We now know that the Fujita Scale could over-estimate wind speeds, which is why we now use the Enhanced Fujita Scale (another educational advancement).

Still, the damage we see in photos of the Belvidere Tornado in 1967 grimly mimic the photos being posted from Fairdale within the past 11 days.

According to Jim Allsopp, Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service, the Belvidere Tornado first struck just before 4PM 2 miles southeast of Cherry Valley. It went on to destroy 300 new cars and 100 employee cars at the Chrysler Plant, which was only a fraction of the damage it would go on to create. The tornado moved on to the southeast side of Belvidere, where 127 homes were destroyed and hundreds more were damaged.

At the time, Belvidere High School had just dismissed students onto buses filled with elementary school students. 12 buses were rolled over and children were flung into muddy fields.


In 2011, Ken Anderson (left) told WREX, “My bus (#30) was moved 100 yards by the tornado. I was wedged under a seat, my shirt soaked red with blood. I saw one, little body half buried in the mud. That memory, an 11 year old should never witness. In this picture, I am on the left (shirt tail out). That concerned look on my face marked the end of my childhood.” At Belvidere High School, 13 people were killed and another 300 were injured, which was just a little more than half of the havoc caused that day.




Dale Marks also vividly remembers April 21st 1967, “They tell me I was lucky. I only had both legs and pelvis broken. Our bus was just on the north side of the school. I think there were five people killed on my bus.’
belvtor1The Belvidere Tornado of 1967 went on to kill a total of 24 people and injure another 500.
To read Jim Allsopp’s full synopsis of the event, click here. To read all of the survivor comments from 2011, click here.



The Belvidere Tornado of 1967 was an F-4 and was up to 1/2 mile wide. It traveled 25-28 miles on the ground.
fairdale1The tornado that hit Fairdale (left) eleven days ago was an EF-4 that was nearly 1/2 mile wide. It traveled 30 miles on the ground.
But, what about the fatalities and injuries? During the 1967 F-4, 24 people were killed and another 500 were injured. During the 2015 EF-4, 2 people were killed and 22 were injured.







Education and awareness are saving people’s lives.

The Storm Prediction Center was able to put out the risk of severe weather nearly a week ahead of the April 9th event. The Chicago National Weather Service was able to implement watches and warnings with ample time to get to safety before these tornadoes struck communities. In fact, Ogle County Sheriff Brian Van Vickle stated, “I don’t think you could’ve asked for better warning.” Local TV meteorologists were able to give in depth explanations on air and online about WHY that Thursday could end with severe weather. We all could do this because of advancements in the world of meteorology.
4-9 radar image 2

In my opinion, the most important thing meteorologists can do is continue to explain to you WHY we could see dangerous weather, WHY we saw dangerous weather, or WHY we ended up not seeing dangerous weather. We’re living in a world with Google at our fingertips, with politics overlapping into sciences, and with education being pushed on everyone. We have been raised and trained to ask questions. Why would you believe something just because someone told you? You have the right to question. I think it’s our job to explain to you why it’s a threat, not just the fact that it’s a threat.

In my opinion, one of the most important things we as a community can learn from both of these deadly tornadoes, is the importance of heeding warnings and continuing to educate yourselves and listening to “the why” instead of chalking it up to “sensationalism,” “hype,” and even “TV ratings.”

Because awareness and education is one of the biggest contributing factors in the difference in death and injuries during severe weather.


Posted under event, history, news, safety, science, severe weather, statistics, tornado, weather, weather geek

This post was written by Morgan Kolkmeyer on April 20, 2015

Record dry air (nearby)

April 14, 2015: Did the air feel really dry today to you? It did in Chicago today, where the dry air tied a record at O’Hare airport.  The relative humidity dropped to 13%, which tied April 8, 1971, April 11, 1956, and May 10, 1934 for the driest relative humidity on record for Chicago. For reference, the human body generally feels comfortable at 45% relative humidity, so 13% is very dry!

Relative humidity readings at 4 pm today

Relative humidity readings at 4 pm today

If you are wondering what or how we figure out the relative humidity of the air, here’s a crash course (get ready for a lot of science!): humidity describes how much water vapor is in the air. We can measure this with absolute humidity, which is the mass of water vapor divided by the mass of dry air at a certain temperature. The hotter the air, the more water vapor it can hold, and so the value for absolute humidity is higher.

To get to relative humidity, we use the ratio of the current absolute humidity to the highest possible absolute humidity at that temperature. At 100% relative humidity, the air is completely saturated and can’t hold any more water, usually creating rainfall as the moisture falls out of the air.

An area of high pressure results in downward movement in the atmosphere. This dries the air out, and is why we don't usually have clouds or active weather under high pressure.

An area of high pressure results in downward movement in the atmosphere. This dries the air out, and is why we don’t usually have clouds or active weather under high pressure.

Why did the air feel so dry today? We did have an area of high pressure right overhead, which may have contributed to the dry conditions. High pressure promotes downward movement in the atmosphere, which counteracts what you may have learned in elementary school about the water cycle- instead of the air rising, then cooling and condensing into clouds, downward moving air dries out.  This is one of the reasons why the air was so dry today.



Posted under event, record weather, science, weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on April 14, 2015

Going For Two

What a week we’ve had!  Sunshine and warmth every day, which each day a little warmer than the last.

Highs slowly climbed into the lower 80's this week thanks to sunny, quiet weather

Highs slowly climbed into the lower 80’s this week thanks to sunny, quiet weather

What made this Friday in particular so nice, was that the weather didn’t take a turn for the worst, like we’ve had lately.  Counting today, 3 out of the last 5 Fridays have had horrible weather for outdoor events: thunderstorms, lightning, wind, and bone-chilling dampness and cold.

Stormy and sometimes cold weather impacted high school football games 3 weeks in a row, in addition to impacting other outdoor events

Stormy and sometimes cold weather impacted high school football games 3 weeks in a row, in addition to impacting other outdoor events

There were unfortunate impacts on our typical Friday night events, with lightning and rain delays and cancellations for Friday night high school football, and the Rockford City Market was cancelled two weeks in a row because of thunderstorms and unpleasant cold and damp weather.  These, of course, are wise decisions to keep everyone safe, but they do put a damper on the last few nice Fridays before winter sets in. I think that’s why today’s “2-point conversion” (or 2-Friday conversion) felt a little extra nice- we had splendid weather for Friday night under the lights in a row.

Valid Saturday, Sep. 27 to Sunday, Sep. 28

Valid Saturday, Sep. 27 to Sunday, Sep. 28

Looking ahead, make sure you get outdoors and enjoy the gorgeous weather this weekend!  80’s, sunshine, and low humidity should add up for a beautiful weekend.  Enjoy!

-Alex Kirchner


Posted under event, warm up, weather

This post was written by Alex Kirchner on September 26, 2014

Looking Back

Yesterday’s storms are well off to the east and we have entered a much calmer (and cooler) weather pattern. In just the matter of 24 hours, some of our hometowns received almost 3″ of rainfall! Places that were the bullseye for our biggest storms yesterday even had some flash flooding this morning, but conditions have improved greatly as we have gone through the day. radarBe prepared for cooler temperatures for the rest of the week as highs struggle to stay in the 60s today through Friday. – Greg


Posted under event, rain, weather

This post was written by qni_it on May 13, 2014

Weekend Outlook

The Easter weekend is upon us and the weather will cooperate for most of it. CaptureTomorrow will be full of sunshine and highs into the 50s. Saturday we begin to cloud up but pump up the temperatures into the low 60s! Easter Sunday brings us middle 60s and the chance for a few scattered showers, though most of those should hold off until late in the day. If you have the umbrella on standby you should be good to go! Have a great weekend! – Greg


Posted under event, First Look, weather

This post was written by qni_it on April 17, 2014

Slam Dunk!

CaptureWe have officially and finally made it into spring! Today and tomorrow look great when it comes to temperatures with highs today in the mid to upper 40s and we make a run for the mid to upper 50s tomorrow. In fact, some spots along the I88 corridor could push near 60 degrees! Make sure you enjoy these two days, because late tomorrow we bring in a chance for a few scattered showers. Those showers will then usher in a cool spell that will leave us with highs in the 30s Saturday-Wednesday. It won’t be a bitterly cold spell, but our highs will be more than ten degrees below average. – Greg


Posted under cold blast, event

This post was written by qni_it on March 20, 2014

St. Patrick’s Day Facts

Happy St. Patrick’s day everyone! Here is a look at some of our records for today (and yes it was 82° two years ago from today), and a look at the week ahead. sdfsdfsfNotice, we have more 40s and 50s for high temperatures than we do 30s! Not too shabby right? – Greg Capture


Posted under event

This post was written by qni_it on March 17, 2014