Rare Middle East Winter Storm

While we’re used to it here in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin, other parts of the world are not.  We’re talking snow, ice, and cold temperatures of course!  Thursday into Friday, a wintry mess blanketed parts of the Middle East.  Parts of Palestine, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey were walloped with once-in-a-lifetime snows.  Parts of Israel picked up over 12 inches snow, with some locations closing in on 2 feet!



While most of us probably picture the Middle East as an arid, desert landscape with hot temperatures, snow isn’t necessarily uncommon in the wintertime.  There are some locations that see a little snow every winter.  But the magnitude of snow from this Thursday and Friday was extremely rare.  The city of Jerusalem recorded its first major snowfall in over 50 years!



Check out some pictures and a few news stories by clicking on the links below:



Posted under event, news, snow, weather, winter storm, winter weather

This post was written by qni_it on December 13, 2013

November: Primetime for “Frost Flowers”

Got your attention with that headline, didn’t I?

This morning I received an e-mail from Dick Roush of Freeport. He writes about the “Frost Flower,” and says “I’ve never seen anything like these in 80 years!” Take a look at this slideshow and see for yourself!

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Here’s how it works. The air temperature must be below 32°F with non-frozen ground. Conner says it’s likely to occur only once per year. “The water in the plant’s stem is drawn upward by capillary action from the ground. It expands as it freezes and splits the stem vertically and freezes on contact with the air.” The conditions for Frost Flowers only happen once because after it occurs, the plant’s stem is either destroyed or the expansion of the ice won’t allow it to happen again.

Frost Flowers are also referred as ice blossoms, ice castles, or crystallofolia.

This is a big reason why it’s great to hike Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin in the fall! -Eric


Posted under news, science, weather, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on November 12, 2013

Personal Weather Authority Forecast for our local veterans

Instead of showing current temperatures, wind chills, troughs, high pressure systems, and snowfall totals today, we thought it would be more important to show a five-day forecast for some of our local military heroes who are away from home.

Because 13News isn’t viewable outside of our 50 mile radius, here’s a slideshow of the nearly two dozen heroes that we showed on the air at 5, 6, and 10. We’ll post a video to this story on Tuesday. Please check back!

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And thank you so much to the families for sharing the photos and stories with everyone today. -Eric


Posted under news

This post was written by qni_it on November 11, 2013

Satellite may crash to Earth next week

1107-satellite-falling_full_600Just a week or so ago I blogged about an asteroid that passed close enough to come between the Earth and the Moon. Now astronomers are watching a satellite that ran out of fuel. Because there’s nothing to keep it in orbit, the Earth’s gravity will likely bring it down sometime next week!

The satellite, named GOCE, or the European Space Agency’s “Gravity Field and Steady-State Ocean Circulation Explorer,” weighs 2,425 pounds. Calculations have it falling to Earth as early as Sunday, November 10th. The problem is no one can predict where it will fall!

What’s for certain is the satellite will break up into many pieces, but some of those pieces could fall to the earth. RedPlanet.com says some could weigh as much as 200 pounds.

This satellite is at the end of its life, but is a large piece of equipment. A day before reentry, scientists hope to pinpoint the impact to a four to five hour timeframe. Since most of the Earth is covered with water, it is not likely to crash-land in a city or highly populated area. Instead, it will likely fall in a 15-20 square yard uninhabited area.

We’ll keep you updated! -Eric


Posted under news, space

This post was written by qni_it on November 8, 2013

Rockford weather legend loses his battle to cancer

Eric Nefstead 1943-2013 (Photo Courtesy of WTVO/WQRF)

Eric Nefstead was the Chief Meteorologist for WREX-TV in the 1980s and 1990s, most recently working at WTVO/WQRF. (Photo Courtesy of WTVO/WQRF)

Long before The Weather Channel could influence my love of weather, there was a guy on WREX Channel 13 who I looked up to. I remember standing in front of the TV wanting to grow up to be like Eric Nefstead, the Chief Meteorologist. There was even a kid-connection because we even shared a first name! Every evening I had to watch the weather and my mom even worked dinner around the weather on TV.

The dream that Eric Nefstead enstilled in me came true a decade ago this month when I took this job at WREX-TV. Walking into the studio, I remember thinking that “This was Eric Nefstead’s station.” Luckily for me, I got to meet him in the fall of 2003. I told him “Eric, I remember watching you on Channel 13 as a kid. You’re why I grew up to become a Meteorologist!” He joked back saying “I’m not that old!” It was nice to see him on WTVO for the past few years showcasing his love of weather and the garden. The latter part of that combo, I’ve yet to figure out. Maybe I wasn’t paying enough attention to “Eric’s Garden” versus “Eric’s Weather!”

His cancer took him off the air within the past year or two and he died at his home on Saturday.

While I didn’t get the chance to work with him, I was grateful to have known him…and learn from him.

It’s my goal to be as good of a role model as he was, knowing the next weatherman named Eric may be watching me do the weather every night. It was bittersweet walking into the station today, knowing the guy who blazed my weather trail is gone.

Memorial services are planned for this Saturday. You can find more information by clicking on this story on WTVO’s website. Condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues at WTVO.

-Eric Sorensen, Chief Meteorologist


Posted under news

This post was written by qni_it on November 4, 2013

Falling Back

changes 2Daylight Saving Time is coming to an end for 2013.  At 2am Sunday, we will set our clocks back one hour.  As a result, our sunrise and sunset times will change.  The sunrise on Sunday will be before 7am—daylight will come a little earlier.  But many of us are dreading that sunset time—before 5pm!  In fact, the sun will not set after 5pm again for another 83 days! 



Posted under event, news, statistics, sunlight

This post was written by qni_it on November 2, 2013

Are you scared of the weather?

UntitledSince it’s Halloween, I decided to take a look at the common “fears” when it comes to the weather! How many of these are you afraid of? Hopefully nobody is pagophobic since we’ve got colder air coming this weekend. And with all the heavy rain around today, ombrophobics are probably going crazy! 🙂

Have a great Halloween everybody! -Eric


Posted under news, weather geek

This post was written by qni_it on October 31, 2013

Fewer Tornadoes in 2013: Nationally, Not Locally

Even though we are heading into the colder months, it is important to remember that severe weather and tornadoes can happen anytime during the year. 

With the main tornado season behind us, both Illinois and Wisconsin have had less tornado activity than expected. This follows the national trend.  Only 770 tornadoes (as of this blog post) have been reported across the United States, fewer than any year since 2005.

Illinois & Wisconsin Tornadoes since 2004

Illinois & Wisconsin Tornadoes since 2004


Just 20 tornadoes have been reported in the Land of Lincoln from January 1st through today (October 16th).  The number is even less for Wisconsin, with 15 confirmed tornadoes.  Illinois sees 54 tornadoes on average every year; Wisconsin averages 24 tornadoes.

One of the main reasons why this year’s tornado count is so low was the weather pattern during Spring.  Spring was filled with extended periods of rain and slow-moving weather systems, which helped keep temperatures down.  Tornadic thunderstorms often thrive when there is a clash of airmass and temperature, something which did not happen much in 2013.

As we transitioned to Summer, the jet stream–which drives our weather–moved well to the north along the Canadian border, keeping much of the nation in a 3 month period of drought.

Believe it or not, 40% of Illinois’ tornadoes this year occurred in the Stateline area!  With 8 tornadoes between May 19th and June 24th, we had an above average year.  Since 1950, the Stateline sees 3 or 4 tornadoes on average per year. 

In 2013, most local tornadoes were brief and rated EF-0.  But on June 12th, an EF-2 tornado touched down in western Carroll County near Savanna and Mount Carroll.  On the same day, an EF-1 tornado pushed through southern DeKalb County near Shabbona.

2013 Local Tornadoes

2013 Local Tornadoes

The year is not over, but hopefully we will not have to endure anymore tornadoes.  They can and do occur at anytime of year (Caledonia Tornado in November 2010, Poplar Grove Tornado in January 2008).



Posted under 13 Climate Authority, news, Project: Tornado, science, severe weather, statistics, tornado, weather

This post was written by qni_it on October 16, 2013

Stateline Tornadoes Since 1950

A recent report shows that the United States has had fewer than normal tornadoes during 2013.  Illinois and Wisconsin, as a whole, have witnessed the same trend.  That is not the case locally, however.

Number of Local Tornadoes by County Since 1950

Number of Local Tornadoes by County Since 1950

The Stateline had 8 confirmed tornadoes so far this year, all occurring between the end of May and the end of June.  Since 1950, our local area averages 3 to 4 tornadoes every year.  Within our 13 county area, Lee & Whiteside County in Illinois and Rock & Walworth County in Wisconsin have picked up the most tornadoes since 1950.  We all have the same exact risk, however, as nothing in our geography prevents tornadoes from forming or the paths they take.

Let’s hope the national trend continues locally for the rest of the year!





Posted under 13 Climate Authority, news, Project: Tornado, severe weather, statistics, tornado, weather

This post was written by qni_it on October 16, 2013

Fall Foliage Report

1Who’s up for a road trip?

Get set for one of the best weekends for fall color! Aside from a cold front sparking a few showers on Saturday, both Illinois and Wisconsin will be completely dry and sunny on Sunday. WISCONSIN: In Wisconsin, we’re looking at some spots in the Northwoods past peak already! But there’s still great color in the Wisconsin River Valley from Portage to Prairie du Chien. Also, the lakeshore from Milwaukee to Door County is looking great this weekend! Peak for South-Central Wisconsin will likely occur next weekend.

2ILLINOIS: Down in the Land of Lincoln, we’re actually nearing peak in many spots along the Mississippi River already! The color isn’t nearly as good as we had hoped. Blame drought conditions on that one! Still, areas downstate have a few weeks to get to peak. But many of you say now is the time to take that trip down Illinois Route 2 from Rockford to Dixon. A close second in our Facebook poll is US20 from Freeport to Dubuque. Should be peak next few weeks there!

If you get any great photos of fall color, post on our Facebook page, Tweet me, or send them in via email.

And special thanks to Anna Filipowicz-Piccirilli for asking when we should see peak color on Facebook!


Posted under drought, news, photos, statistics, weather

This post was written by qni_it on October 11, 2013